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The Quick And The Dead (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

When Sony announced the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release of Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead, I found myself a bit surprised. It just wasn’t a film I’d think would be leaping to the format right away. Its not hitting any sort of notable milestone this year (23 years old) and Sam Raimi doesn’t really have some big new film coming out. Oh well, though. The Western, headlined by Sharon Stone is making its way with a brand new 4K transfer and newly mixed Dolby Atmos track. They are also tossing on some never seen Deleted scenes in the mix, making this a pretty solid 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray release. You’ll be able to pre-order the film from the Amazon link we have provided below. Land yourself a copy of Raimi’s Western when it arrives July 17th.

Film 

A mysterious woman gunslinger, Ellen, saunters into the town of Redemption looking for revenge. Her father was killed by the town’s sadistic mayor, Herod, who is in the midst of organizing a quick-draw tournament. The lady enters, joining a cast of miscreants and outlaws for a brutal competition in which the loser dies. Among the competitors is “The Kid”, an upstart who has his own score to settle with Herod.

You may see a cast list on The Quick and the Dead. You’ll see names above the title. Big movie stars in the marquee lights. But, make no mistake. While performances in this movie are terrific and do their part in helping the movie to success, the true star of this film is its director Sam Raimi. Many people don’t understand or appreciate what a director really brings to the table, and this movie is a shining example of their importance.

Without Sam Raimi, The Quick and the Dead is probably we acted, rote Western that decided to pull a Hannie Caulder and have a female gunslinger run with the outlaws. And make no mistake, Sharon Stone rocks in this film. But, with Sam Raimi at the helm, you get an incredibly different feeling, a unique experience that sets this apart from other Westerns in standout fashion. Heck, I feel like people who normally aren’t taken by Westerns would enjoy this one just as much as the biggest Western lover would.

If you’ve seen Sam Raimi’s films before (Spider-Man, Evil Dead, yeah I know you know them), then you’ll spot his touch right away. But therein lies the excitement. He gets to do a Western HIS way. Shootouts now become more than just two strangers waiting to draw and one going down with a blood squib bursting. Everything finds a new level of both fun and intensity, completely raising the stakes on previously seen Western tropes. In fact, Raimi even relishes in those commonly uses stereotypes and ramps them up to new levels that make an old thing seems new. Staring down the barrel of a stand-off loser, watching the clock tick, the itchy trigger finger, the cold gaze of an opponent; they all feel like you’re seeing them for the first time and have your squirming in your seat. OF COURSE, you know Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe aren’t going to lose an early match, but Raimi gets you to second guess and worry, and there’s a big feat.

Whether it be the camera work or the post production editing, its clear Raimi has a hands everywhere on this movie. What might be one of his most forgotten films in his canon will hopefully become his greatest re-discovery looking back. Call me guilty, they used to run this film on Cinemax all the time and I skipped over it. Granted, a lot of the time they promoted box office flops and poorly reviewed films as if they were the best of the year, so you didn’t know to trust them. I don’t even know if I knew Raimi was the director back in the 90s. Then it became a bargain bin film in the DVD/Blu-ray era, so I just never went back to it. Now, I’ve done it for this review and I am quite surprised and pleased with the film. I feel this may be the film that actually proves his strength, brilliance and genius as a not just good but great director as its one that isn’t in his typical element and yet he not only is able to deliver a film that is clearly his, but it also elevates the story and the genre.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: The Quick and the Dead debuts on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray with a nice new transfer. The film has been restored from the original camera negative. It retains a nice layer of grain that helps add to natural details and depth portrayed in the image. It has a nice crisp image. Details are quite strong, from threads and patterns on clothing to the intricacies of chipped paint on saloon doors. Russell Crowe’s outfit is a nice point of reference as it is all sorts of battered, dirtied and showing its full on texture almost to the touch. Sony made this, so there’s no surprise its an impressive image, but still, just looking at it will continue your respect for their wonderful treatment of catalog titles.

Depth:  Depth of field is pretty outstanding as the camera sweeps and zooms all travel quite smoothly, confidently and display all the spacing between the background and foreground images. And I mean, when you watch these camera movements, it is quite incredible to watch how swifty and 3D like things travel. No distortions with motion occur at all in this image.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and a pretty nice star of this transfer. Shading is terrific and details are held strong with texture on hates, loose threads and hair follicles find themselves discernible at any given time. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: The film holds a better of them worn colors being a western. Its full of browns, grays and such. But it all looks natural. Its all very well saturated. Greens when available give a good pop and fires roar with an added glow thanks to HDR. As is per usual on 4K UHD, the skies look quite lovely.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural with a little more warmth to them, but its a consistent look from start to finish. Facial features like stubble, wrinkles, bags under eyes, dirt, moles, sweat beads, lip texture, freckles all come through very clear.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: The Quick and the Dead features a nice newly mixed Dolby Atmos track and its quite a treat to enjoy this film. The sound is really loose and airy, crafting a genuine old west environment. Sound effects have great clarity and depth. It features full realize lifelike layers with its gun clicks and creaking of wood. The mix is also well balanced with the vocals, effects and score and features some awesome sound travel to go with the wonderful quick and sweeping camera movements.

Height: From up top you’ll find stray bullets, wind, people shouting, glasses smashing and more. Its appropriately integrated into the film and not overdone.

Low Frequency Extension: Gunfire, stomping, punches, things crashing and the score all feel and nice rumble from your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Fortunately, this is a pretty well realized track. While not dominate with surrounding sounds, it does sport some good ambiance that helps in environments quiet and loud. You’ll get some singers coming through or stray bullets floating around. Sound travel is very accurate and fun here as well as having the score to the film go large in areas.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are quite clear and crisp with real attention to diction.

Extras 

The Quick and the Dead 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film. In an odd turn, the 4K UHD disc contains new extras and the standard Blu-ray has no bonus content at all.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 5:15) 

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:18)

Summary 

The Quick and the Dead is a fun, classic western, elevated to more entertaining and unique heights thanks to its director, Sam Raimi. This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut comes a little as a surprise release, but it features a terrific video transfer and a very fun new Atmos track. The release even features new extras. Fans, Western lovers and Raimi enthusiasts will want to pick this up, but as this has always been a Blu-ray and DVD “cheapie”, I’m sure most will wait for a price drop before adding it to the collection.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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