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True Grit (Blu-ray Review)

Father’s Day is coming, so we decided that it would be more than appropriate if Why So Blu posted a nice double header of western Blu-ray madness.  True Grit is part one of the equation with Once Upon A Time In The West being part two.  I remember seeing the teaser trailer for True Grit several months ago in theaters and it gave me chills!  I wasn’t aware that it was a remake of the John Wayne classic of the same name.  The Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) were back together again and ready to inject the western genre with their trademark film style.  Featuring an all-star cast of well known talent like Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld; will this remake on Blu-ray have True Grit? 

 

Film 

Rooster Cogburn (Bridges) is a rascal of a U.S. Marshall hired by 14-year old Mattie Ross (Steinfeld) to seek and capture the outlaw Tom Chaney (Brolin)  that is responsible for killing her father.  LaBoeuf (Damon) is a Texas Ranger who is also after  Chaney for a different murder.  All of their paths with cross in a hail of eloquent dialogue with a side of bullets.

Rooster Cogburn is one of the most likeable characters in recent western memory.  He’s not necessarily a good person, but he gets his point across with true grit.  He’s also a hard drinker and a smoker.  The reasons why True Grit works so well is that the main characters roll with the punches so to speak.  You’d think that they’ve known each other for ages by how they talk to one another.

True Grit is a bit of a chase movie since they’re out to catch a fugitive and have very little to work with in terms of tracking Chaney down.  There are certain scenes in the film that come to a full stop with some weird and eccentric imagery like in the “almost white woods” scene.  Injected into the film you will also delight in trademark Coen Brothers quirkyness.

Quirkyness aside, there are plenty of exciting action packed shootouts that fill the True Grit landscape.  The film is just under two hours, but breezes by.  I was not able to catch this in theaters during its run, but after watching the Blu-ray it would have totally been on my top ten list of 2010.  Everyone involved deserves the accolades that they have received so far.  Young Hailee Steinfeld is a star in the making and the film itself carries a sort of prestige since everyone involved has either won or been nominated for an Academy Award in the past (and present).

Cross-examining Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him.
Rooster Cogburn: That’s right.
Cross-examining Lawyer: In what direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: Backwards. I always go backwards when I back up.

Did I mention that the dialogue is awesome?  True Grit has such an awesome script that should also be required reading just like No Country For Old Men was, in my opinion.

Video 

True Grit is presented in 1080p 2.35:1 widescreen.  Yeah, this is a reference video track.  There’s a thin layer of grain though out the film which enhances the video quality.  True Grit may be called True Grit, but the video quality is anything but gritty.  This is not a bad thing , as I suspect, may be an aesthetic choice.  It’s the characters that represent “true grit,” so their details down to Jeff Bridge’s long johns look positively weathered and worn.  The contrast levels are amazing (check out the scene in woods with the trees that almost look white).  Black levels are deep and never crush, DNR is absent, and I did not spot instances of aliasing or banding.  I remember watching No Country For Old Men and that was also a reference quality presentation on Blu-ray.  I’m glad to see The Coen Brothers have been consistent with their films in that regard. 

Audio 

True Grit is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  True Grit sounds superb!  Dialogue is smooth and clear, so there will be no trouble in figuring out what some of the southern folks are saying.  Southern drawls sound good all the way around.  Gunshots and shotgun blasts ring out with clarity and heft; the LFE channel does its job properly.  The ambient surround sound channels also create an enveloping atmosphere where echoes, wildlife, and shady characters fill the night…and day.  The sound quality of True Grit on Blu-ray is one for the books. 

Special Features 

True Grit has a few special features worth mentioning, but an overall not-quite-up-to-snuff package.  Some of the featurettes are too self congratulatory, but the ones that stand out are the ones that focus on author Charles Portis, who wrote the novel that the film is based on, and master cinematographer Roger Deakins who shot True Grit. There is also a second disc which is a dvd/digital copy. 

  • Behind the Scenes with Mattie Ross
  • Outfitting the Old West: Buckskins, Chaps, and Cowboy Hats
  • Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western
  • Re-creating Fort Smith
  • The Cast
  • Charles Portis – The Greates Writer You’ve Never Heard Of…
  • The Cinematography of True Grit
  • True Grit Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD Feature Film
  • Digital Copy of Feature Film

 

Final Thoughts 

To my surprise True Grit is rated PG-13, but don’t let that alter your opinion.  There are several lovely kills in True Grit that made me flinch, so not all is lost.  Even with a PG-13 True Grit retains all of its grit.  The Blu-ray presentation is a flawless one.  The film is great, the special features not all that great, but my overall recommendation is that its a must buy!  Paramount has done great job with True Grit on Blu-ray.

Order True Grit on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

12 Responses to “True Grit (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I love living in a world where an incredibly enjoyable True Grit remake from the Coen Brothers exists, and it has huge widespread appeal.

  2. Matt Goodman

    Great film, boring in parts, overall a very well made film.

  3. Brian White

    This one is not for me, but i just heard great things about the acting of the girl in this movie.

  4. Gregg

    You heard right, Brian. Hailee Steinfeld absolutely stole the show in this movie. In my opinion, he acting stood out more than anyone else’s. She was magnificent and nothing short of that. Matt’s comment above is true though as there was some downtime in this movie that didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. Thankfully, this movie is so strong overall that those parts didn’t take away from the experience this movie offered. At the end of the day, I agree with Gerard’s 4.5 score. Consequently, I agree with that score at the beginning and middle of the day as well. Yee haw!

  5. Sean Ferguson

    But how does it compare to the original? I can’t be the only one who wants to know that. The original earned John Wayne his only Oscar and is widely loved so I’d like to hear how this stacked up against it.

  6. Aaron Neuwirth

    It improves upon Kim Darby’s role for sure. Steinfeld is fantastic. There is a tone that is much more in line with Coen Brother films than that of a John Wayne western, so it has enough distance in that regard. Besides the way a lot of scenes playout similarly, as they are based on the same book, I think it will come down to how much love one has for the original and how much they can separate themselves from it. However, it also benefits people who are huge Coen Brothers fans by fusing their style with a film such as this.

  7. Gerard Iribe

    Sorry Sean, I’ve never seen the original, so I can’t make the comparison.

  8. Sean Ferguson

    Thanks Aaron. It will be interesting to see the difference.

    Gerard – You should watch the original! If you haven’t seen this or Rio Bravo, The Searchers, The Alamo, and North to Alaska, you should get on it!

  9. Gerard Iribe

    Yeah, I haven’t seen any of those, Sean. The last John Wayne film that I saw was Hondo and that was like 15-16 years ago when they showed it on network tv with special 3-D glasses from 7-11.

    Yeah, I just dated myself.

  10. Sean Ferguson

    You really need to see all of those! Actually just about all of his movies are good but those are my favorite ones. I’ll also add The Shootist, The Cowboys, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance to the list too since those are also masterpieces.

  11. Aaron Neuwirth

    Liberty Valance!

  12. Jiminy Critic

    Really liked this one… Definitely Coen style fo sho…