Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
3.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

Good Will Hunting: 15th Anniversary Edition

Street Date:
August 21st, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 14th, 2012
Movie Release Year:
1997
Studio:
Lionsgate
Length:
126 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated R
Release Country
United States

Introduction

Portions of this review also appear in Aaron's earlier review of 'Good Will Hunting.'

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

'Good Will Hunting' is in a rare breed of movies. A movie that not only lives by formula, but thrives on it. So often we look at formula as a bad thing in movies, but 'Good Will Hunting' shows us that's not always the case. We know how the entire story will play out, more or less. We have a good idea of where the movie's heading, but that isn't the payoff here. The real treat about 'Good Will Hunting' is its rich characters and their very personal, very touching interactions with each other.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a genius, but he doesn't want to be. He'd rather spend the rest of his days swinging a sledge hammer at construction sites than use his awesome intelligence to figure out impossible equations. Will could do anything he wants in the academic realm, but he chooses to be a janitor instead. Why? Well, because he doesn't care much for being smart. He likes to show it off every once and a while when it's needed, but he doesn't have any big plans to do anything with it. His rocky past holds him back from truly achieving what he could.

After Will casually figures out an equation, which is supposed to too difficult for any student at MIT, he's tracked down by Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) who is determined to put Will on the track to becoming the next Albert Einstein. He enlists the help of psychiatric colleague Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) in order to try and get through Will's thick skin.

It's the scenes between Sean and Will that really make this movie the instant classic it became. Williams and Damon play so well off of each other. Williams showing that he could take a more dramatic role by the horns and Damon showing all of us the star he was going to become. These two characters create a rich, satisfying experience. They see into and relate with one another. 'Good Will Hunting' won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay that year, and it was well-deserved. The conversations that take place between Sean and Will are some of the most poignant scenes committed to film.


'Good Will Hunting' is never about Will finding and accepting his inner genius. It's about something more. Will's genius is only a ploy in order for us to become invested in his character. Deep down he's just a troubled young man trying to deal with the difficulties of a rough upbringing. Trying to deal with the sometimes unfair expectations that have been arbitrarily placed on him by people who can only see his smarts.

It isn't often that you get to watch a movie and actually see the birth of a new superstar. This was indeed Damon's launching pad to ultra-Hollywood stardom. We saw the birth of an actor not just a star. An actor that would go on to play a myriad of different roles from action star to dramatic thespian.

Revisiting 'Good Will Hunting' is a good thing to do every now and then. Like I mentioned before, the story is predictable maybe even generic. That's okay though. We don't mind, because the characters are so deep, and the conversations so natural that we forget about the conventional nature of the plot.


The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

This is the 15th Anniversary Edition of 'Good Will Hunting.' Nothing has changed in the audio and video department for this release, but a new retrospective special feature has been added that is well worth watching. The disc is a 50GB Blu-ray Disc, comes in a standard Blu-ray keepcase and has a slipcover. There is not a Digital Copy included with this release like the earlier Blu-ray release.


The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded picture provided for 'Good Will Hunting' does the film proud. It isn't without its faults, but overall, fans will be much happier with this version rather than with the somewhat troubled Alliance version.

Fine detail is the driving force in this release. Facial details look great. Each one of Robin Williams' mussed beard hairs is visible. The textures of his suit jacket and cardigans are striking. Damon's boyish good looks are done justice here too. Tiny scrapes and bruises, earned by Will during a fight at the beginning of the movie, are nicely defined and never blurry or indistinct. Crushing hampers the picture ever so slightly, while some edge enhancement is noticeable. It isn't a glaring amount so it never really detracts from the overall enjoyment of the transfer.

The grain is stable, adding a filmic quality to the movie's look. There are a few dirt specks that pop up with random frequency, but it isn't overly annoying by any means. The fact is 'Good Will Hunting' has never looked better on video. This certainly looks better than the Canadian import disc from Alliance. In short, this is the version of the movie that you should purchase.


The Audio: Rating the Sound

'Good Will Hunting' has been given the lossless treatment with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It's true that this movie, like so many talkative dramas, doesn't need much in the way of sonic goodies to keep us interested. It'll never be used as wham-bam demo material, but this intimate affair will please fans no matter what.

Dialogue, the most important aspect here, is almost always clear (though there are a couple instances of dialogue that seem to harbor some minor distortion). Directionality gives the sound design a bit of dimension and depth as characters talk out of frame. The rear speakers are lightly peppered with some of the movie's score along with ever-so-slight ambient noise. There aren't many scenes that really require a surround sound feel, so that aspect of the mix isn't going to really impress anyone. LFE is also pretty light, pumping up on occasion for the soundtrack and other random sound effects. Other than those instances, there really isn't a big need for deep bass in a movie like this.

This is an understated dramatic film that doesn't really need an interactive sound mix to keep viewers engaged in the movie. That's okay, because the mix provided here achieves everything you'd expect it to.


The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentary — Now this is a great commentary. All the major players are represented here. This is the same commentary that you get on the DVD release of the film. Director Gus Van Sant is joined by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to discuss the movie. It's fun listening to Damon and Affleck talk about their pet project. Listen to them reminisce about the movie that for all intents and purposes, made them both the stars that they are today. They get along fantastically and never make for a dull moment. This is certainly a track that fans of the movie should listen to.
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 20 min.) — These 11 deleted scenes are available with optional commentary from Van Sant, Damon, and Affleck if you so choose. It's true that most of these scenes amount to "cut for pacing issues," but there are a few of them that you'll want to watch as they add a bit more to the story. One scene in particular is a talk that Skylar and Chuckie have about Will. It's the best of the bunch. Even though many of the scenes are throwaway scenes, it is interesting to hear the guys talk about them. I particularly liked when they talked about filming a St. Patrick's Day parade two months before principal filming even started.
  • Production Featurette (SD, 7 min.) — Interviews from those involved spliced in with film footage.
  • Behind the Scenes (SD, 4 min.) — A montage of behind-the-scenes footage set to Elfman music.
  • Music Video (SD, 3 min.) — A music video for "Miss Misery" by Elliot Smith.
  • Academy Awards Best Picture Montage (SD, 1 min.) — Just what the title says, nothing more.
  • Trailer (HD, 2 min.) — The theatrical trailer is included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Two new retrospective features have been added to this 15th Anniversary release.

  • Reflecting on a Journey: 'Good Will Hunting' 15 Years Later (HD, 1hr. 1 min.) — This is a great new retrospective look at 'Good Will Hunting.' There isn't a promotional vibe attached to it at all. Instead it's an honest look back at the movie with candid interviews from Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Gus Van Sant, Robin Williams, and even Kevin Smith. Here Damon and Affleck discuss being starving actors in L.A. when they wrote the script. They talk about how amazed they were when Robin Williams signed on, how he influenced the movie getting made and his improvisation of the last line in the movie. This is a genuine reminiscing over the moments that led up to the movie being made, getting it made, and the aftermath of winning an Oscar. Is it worth purchasing the movie again? That's something you'd have to decide for yourself, but this really is a worthwhile look back at the movie that made Matt Damon and Ben Affleck stars. How it all happened and what they think of the movie now.
  • Matt Damon Remembers 'Good Will Hunting' (HD, 17 min.) — This is Damon recapping much of the stuff that was covered in the more extensive retrospective. He covers a lot of the same stuff, with a slightly promotional feel, but it's still a good recap of how the movie was made. Although, it pales in comparison to "Reflecting on a Journey."

Final Thoughts

The only difference between this release and the earlier release is the added special features. The new one-hour retrospective is very good though. If you haven't bought the movie yet then this is the copy to get, but I wonder if it's worth rebuying the movie just for the new special features. It's a great movie anyway, so it isn't hard to justify it. I still highly recommend this set simply because the new feature is really great and any fan of the movie should watch it.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:!

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, French, Spanish, German

Supplements

  • Audio commentary with director Gus Van Sant and writers/stars Ben Affleck & Matt Damon
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Production featurette
  • Deleted scenes with optional audio commentaries
  • 1998 Academy Awards Best Picture montage
  • "Miss Misery" music video by Elliott Smith
  • The Era of Good Will Hunting
  • Cast and crew spotlight
  • Academy Awards: A Winning Season
  • Life Goes On
  • Theatrical trailer

Exclusive HD Content

  • Four-part Reflecting On A Journey: Good Will Hunting 15 Years Later featurette including interviews with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Gus Van Sant, Chris Moore, and Kevin Smith
  • Matt Damon Remembers Good Will Hunting interview session

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