Set includes 'The Shawshank Redemption,' 'The Green Mile,' and 'The Majestic.'
Frank Darabont is one of the better filmmakers to ever grace the big screen, however his resume is fairly small. I'd like to think the reason is the whole "quality, not quantity' angle, but as we saw with his stint on AMC's 'The Walking Dead', that's not always the case, meaning the studio execs have tried to intrude on almost every single one of his projects. That being said, Frank Darabont has given us some of the best films ever made, one in particular usually makes the #1 spot on many "Best of All Time' lists.
I'm of course talking about 'The Shawshank Redemption', which was based on a Stephen King short story. King and Darabont would go onto collaborate on a few other films in the future, including 'The Green Mile' and 'The Mist'. Time and time again, Darabont has shown us what true filmmaking is and can be. Darabont got his start writing 'A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors' and the 1988 version of 'The Blob'. Darabont then forged a good relationship with Steven Spielberg as he went on to write a bunch of the episodes of 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles'. He also re-worked the screenplays for 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Minority Report' for Spielberg. Then, of course, 'Shawshank' and 'The Green Mile' hit big on all levels, winning awards and praise from virtually everyone.
While the horror film 'The Mist' is not included in this set, which is a shame, Darabont's less popular film 'The Majestic' is. I firmly believe that 'The Majestic' is one of the most underrated films ever made. It's a beautiful piece of filmmaking with a genuine story, great characters, and an amazing performance from Jim Carrey, who doesn't do his usual comedy schtick, but delivers a very endearing and emotional performance of someone who is lost on multiple levels with his life. There are already perfect reviews of both 'The Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Green Mile' here, which you can click on their respective titles to view those reviews, but if you'd like to know my opinion on those, I believe they are both some of the best films ever made and continue to grow with each viewing.
However, let's get back to 'The Majestic', which stars Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Laurie Holden, and Bruce Campbell. Carrey plays a man named Lulke Tremble, who is a writer for feature films in Hollywood in the 1950s, where every script is changed by old studio execs trying to make a quick buck. He heads out for a long drive after his script is changed to a virtually unrecognizable piece of fluff to clear his head, but ends up crashing his car along the coast. He wakes up with severe amnesia, where he can't remember a thing about who he is or his past life. It turns out that the town he crashed near had a guy who looked exactly the same as him and was feared dead in the war.
Now everyone in town is trying to make this complete stranger remember his life in the town, when in fact he's never actually been. Soon enough, everyone in town try to put the pieces back together for Luke, including setting him up with his old flame and rebuilding an old movie theatre. The side story here, which I feel that bogged the film down a bit was that of the government trying to find Carrey's real character, who was a protestor during a communist rally, which back in the 50s was seen as a crime by some. Jim Carrey delivers on of his first dramatic performances here as he struggles to try and fit in and make all the super sweet people of this small town happy, even though he is not the answer to their feared conclusions. It's not his fault, because he sincerely doesn't remember.
This movie along with possibly 'The Truman Show' were possibly the sole films where we realized that Carrey was more than just 'Ace Ventura', but rather an actor capable of much more. Darabont really nailed the time period of the 50s as well, giving us a very warm and almost fairy tale like ambience with white picket fences and bold colorful period clothing. I think this film didn't do as well or hold the same value as the others is that most people didn't expect such a dramatic performance from Carrey nor such a dramatic film as a whole. I think people were expecting a straight out comedy, rather than an endearing film set in the 50s. Whatever the case might be, 'The Majestic' is a brilliant homage to the films of the 1950s with enough heart and soul for two films.
Each of these films are direct copies of their previous Blu-Ray releases. Each film comes with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and has a 1080 HD transfer. You can read about 'The Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Green Mile's' video presentations by clicking the appropriate titles. But, I will tell you that both of these video transfers are the same transfers from six or seven years ago, which was when Blu-ray was coming into the big spotlight.
That's not the case with 'The Majestic' though, which has a much nicer looking image than the other two films in this set, as this movie was released individually recently. That being said, 'The Green Mile' and 'The Shawshank Redemption' had some of the best video presentations back in 2008, when they were released, hence the great quality still on show here. 'The Majestic' has a beautiful image. The detail is crystal clear and very vivid. Closeups reveal wrinkles, the 50's era makeup blemishes, and individual hairs on the actor's faces. The costumes and clothing from the 50's look amazing here too as almost each stitch and clothing pattern can be seen very easily. The colors really pop off screen.
The bright and bold color palette is wonderful and makes you feel a sense of warmth and home. In fact, there is a fairy tale-esque glow to the whole picture, but it never distracts from the viewing. The black levels are always inky and deep and the skin tones are natural throughout. There were any major problems with any compression issues either, leaving the video presentations with great marks, even if they are the same transfers from their original Blu-ray releases.
These three films all come with a variety of different audio options. 'The Majestic' comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and is the only one here that has that option. The other two films both have options between a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 track and a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio mix. You're going to want to choose the TrueHD mixes here as it sounds more robust and energetic throughout.
Your rear speakers (if you have them) will come alive on a more consistent basis with this option. I did notice that you'll have to choose the TrueHD format on 'The Shawshank Redemption' manually, as it won't automatically start with that option. All three movies have a great sound. The sound effects in each film sound realistic and are perfectly balanced and layered. The directionality is always great too. 'The Majestic' has a softer playing field in terms of sound, so don't expect a ton of big explosions or loud moments to fill the room up, but it gets the job done. Dialogue is always centered, clear and easy to follow at all times, with no complaints of any pops, cracks, or hissing.
Perhaps the best moments in each film are the incredible scores from each movie. When the score swells and crescendos, you can't help but get emotional. The sound is full and lively at all times. The LFE is quite good in each release, and the dynamic range is wide, leaving these audio tracks with very good marks.
Again, these are the same extras from the past releases with zero new footage or extras.
'The Shawshank Redemption'
Audio Commentary - Director Frank Darabont gives an excellent commentary here and if you've never listened to it, you'll want to after viewing the film. He discusses pretty much every aspect of the film and tells us why he made certain decisions involving the story.
Hope Springs Eternal: A Look Back At 'The Shawshank Redemption (HD, 32 Mins.) - From the DVD version of the film all those years ago has the cast and crew discussing making the movie.
Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature (HD, 48 Mins.) - Here is a BBC special that has more interviews with the cast and crew as they discuss the influence and lasting impression this film has made. They even go to some of the actual prisons where the movie was shot.
The Charlie Rose Show Segment (HD, 24 Mins.) - From 2004, Darabont, Tim Robbins, and Morgan Freeman discuss making the movie.
Comic Spoof: The Sharktank Redemption (HD, 24 Mins.) - It's a bit long, but stars Morgan Freeman's son as he is to work at a Hollywood agency.
Still Galleries (HD, 16 Mins.) - A collection of photos from the film in a slideshow.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'The Green Mile'
Audio Commentary - Here is the old commentary track from Frank Darabont from it's first release. Again, if you haven't heard it this before, you're going to enjoy it as Darabont gives us a wealth of information on every aspect of the film.
Walking The Mile (HD, 25 Mins.) - This is a standard promo reel, though a bit longer than most, where we have interviews from the cast and crew as well as some behind the scenes footage. I guess if you're in a hurry, this is the one to watch, however there are more comprehensive and better extras to be found here.
Miracles and Mystery: Creating 'The Green Mile' (HD, 103 Mins.) - From pre-production to the finalized film, every aspect of the filmmaking process on 'The Green Mile' is here. From casting, shooting, costumes, sets, and makeup, everything is covered.
Walking the Mile: Extended Version (HD, 95 Mins.) - There our four discs in this set. One for each movie with an extra disc for this bonus feature alone. This is a much longer version than the standard promo reel we talked about above and is well worth the watch.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 4 Mins.) - With a movie that is more than three hours long, it's funny that Darabont didn't keep these four minutes in the film. These can be viewed with optional Darabont commentary.
Michael Clarke Duncan's Screen Test (HD, 9 Mins.) - Watch Duncan nail this role in his last audition for the film. Amazing.
Tom Hanks's Makeup Tests (HD, 6 Mins.) - Wow. I'm a visual effects and makeup effects guru, and this shows just how much makeup went into the film by some highly recognizable names in the business.
The Teaser Trailer: A Case Study (HD, 7 Mins.) - This is an awesome concept for a teaser trailer for the film, which was designed by comic book artist Bill Sienkiewicz (The New Mutants).
Trailers (HD, 5 Mins.) - A couple of trailers for the film.
Additional Scenes (HD, 10 Mins.) - Here are a few scenes that were left on the cutting room floor. Nothing here really adds to any character or plot point of the film.
Movie Within the Movie: 'Sand Pirates of the Sahara' (HD, 5 Mins.) - Any Bruce Campbell is good, right? The old black and white movie that is shown throughout 'The Majestic' is shown here in its entirety, which is 5 or so minutes. It's worth it, because it has Bruce Campbell sword fighting.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 Mins.) - The trailer for the film.
'The Frank Darabont Collection' really should have included 'The Mist', but I'm glad 'The Majestic' is here. That being said, this feels like more of acash grab for films that have already been released. Now, if you don't own any of these films, then by all means, this is a MUST-OWN, but for those of you who already have 'The Shawshank Redemption' and 'The Green Mile', you don't need to double dip as the transfers and extras are the same.