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