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Four unlikely cowboys band together to defeat a corrupt frontier sheriff.
For more about Silverado and the Silverado Blu-ray release, see Silverado Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 10, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, Mark Kasdan
Starring: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, Danny Glover, John Cleese, Rosanna Arquette
» See full cast & crew
Silverado Blu-ray Review
'Silverado' strikes gold on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 10, 2009
This oughta do.
If there are two words that can adequately describe Director Lawrence Kasdan's (Wyatt Earp) 1985 Western Silverado, those words would be "fun" and "quirky." An ode to the genre but at the same time a film with its own unique identity, Silverado takes the Western, digs up every cliché in the book, and assembles them into a rollicking good time that's the ultimate in escapist entertainment. Corrupt lawmen, outlaws turned heroes, mysterious characters, revenge, shifting allegiances, stampedes, six shooters, lever action rifles, saloons, dusty center-town standoffs and, yes, even tumbleweeds, all make an appearance. It's a laundry list of classic Western motifs, props, and settings, but it's all delivered here with an obvious yet nevertheless decidedly understated wink and a nod to all that have come before it in the genre that's as American as baseball and apple pie.
Silverado tells the story of four individuals that find themselves banding together to free a small frontier town from corruption. Emmett (Scott Glenn, Training Day), recently freed from prison, is on his way to California but first must bust his brother Jake (Kevin Costner, The Postman) out of prison before he's executed. On his way, Emmett stumbles across a man named Paden (Kevin Kline, Wild Wild West) who has recently been robbed and left for dead on the desert floor. The two team up and head to Turley where Emmett finds his brother, Paden finds the man who took his horse, and they both meet Mal (Danny Glover, Saw), a black man that's denied service at a local saloon because of the color of his skin. Eventually, the four team up and head to Silverado for their own reasons: Emmett and Jake to say goodbye to their family before heading off to California; Mal to reunite with his father; and Paden to consider an opportunity with the town's sheriff, Cobb (Brian Dennehy, First Blood). Instead of finding peace and quiet, they discover a town on the edge and under the thumb of corruption. Will they band together to save the town of Silverado or put themselves first and ignore the troubles that they've unwittingly walked into?
A far cry from the wave of gritty Westerns that both preceded (The Wild Bunch) and followed (Unforgiven) it, Silverado recalls the genre at its most basic, embracing a happy-go-lucky, tongue-in-cheek, rough-and-tumble, goodhearted approach to its material, presenting a serious story in a semi-serious tone thanks to its insistence on reveling in the classic themes that made the genre great. Though one of the least-innovative pictures of its kind, Silverado stands apart from the crowd for just that reason. There's an allure here -- despite some missteps -- that makes the movie a special experience. It manages to make for a refreshing two hour ride in the midst of a semi-complicated plot and well-developed, wonderfully acted, yet mostly recycled characters, two strikes that could represent certain death for a picture in the hands of a lesser cast and crew. Not in Silverado. There's a laid back feel to the movie; it really matters not if the plot's just a bit too convoluted for its own good or if the characters represent an eclectic yet stereotypical bunch. What matters is that the movie hits all the right notes along the way, and that's what makes Silverado work through the unoriginality.
The film's breezy pace and cheerful demeanor supersede the shortcomings and at the same time inject a lightheartedness into the film that lends to it plenty of levity, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. It's a stretch to label Silverado a Parody or even merely a Comedy, even if it does seem to, on occasion, take on elements of each. It's not all that funny in the traditional sense, particularly when compared to Mel Brooks' brilliant Blazing Saddles, though there is an underlying current of humor that resonates through the picture that emanates from the aforementioned broad use of clichéd settings and plot devices and stereotyped characters that populate the film. Paden's pajama-clad revenge shooting near the beginning of the film serves as a prime example. Accompanied by menacing yet breezy music with a classic Western flair, Paden purchases a rust-bucket of a gun that barely holds together. A youngster in the town square excitedly points to the violence-to-come with a smile on his face and a pointer-finger pistol ready for action. Paden hurriedly loads the gun, gets shot through the crotch of his pajamas, takes down his target with one shot, and in the next scene is lip-to-lip with his stolen horse. Every character plays their parts seriously but with a twinkle in their eye that reinforces the film's oddball yet incredibly alluring and highly entertaining concoction of serious Western with tongue-in-cheek undertones.
Silverado Blu-ray, Video Quality
Film lovers, get ready. Silverado dusts off for Blu-ray and reveals a stunning 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. There's no single aspect of this transfer that disappoints, and it currently represents one of the best-looking Blu-ray catalogue titles on the market. Colors -- though the film sports a predominantly brown hue that reflects the dusty leather saddles, the wooden rifle stocks, worn out jackets, and the sandy terrain -- pop off the screen with lifelike clarity. Bolder colors -- the red of an American flag in one scene or green shrubbery in the middle of an otherwise barren landscape in another -- offer superior vibrancy. Fine object detail, too, is fantastic. The terrain that's dotted with gravel, dust, and weeds, takes on an absolutely lifelike appearance with the transfer resolving each and every speckle on the ground with precision. Viewers will note the wear and tear on clothing, saddles, and rifle stocks, while close-up shots of the actors showcase nice texture and clarity. Blacks are generally superb, though flesh tones take on a decidedly red tint. Grain is present throughout, and while it spikes here and there, it lends to the transfer a superior film-like appearance that, along with the scope widescreen presentation, seemingly puts viewers in the middle of the movie theater. There is no sign of noise reduction, smearing, waxy faces, or any such atrocities with this one. The transfer is simply exquisite, taking on a first-rate cinematic look and feel that's a prime example of just how fantastic a format Blu-ray can be. With transfers like Silverado and Glory, Sony shows they know how to recreate the look of film with their catalogue titles for home viewing pleasure.
Silverado Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Silverado rides onto Blu-ray with a strong Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. From the film's opening seconds it becomes clear that this track means business. Loud gunshots ring out from inside and out of a small wooden hilltop shed. Shots crackle, wood shatters, and the track features a strong sense of spacing as sound maneuvers about the soundstage effortlessly. Not to be outdone, the marvelous presentation of the title sequence's scored music -- a rousing, good old-fashioned Western theme -- plays with superb clarity as it seamlessly flows through the entire front half of the soundstage. Such strong attributes remain throughout; later shootouts feature bullets whizzing and ricocheting through the back half of the soundstage, and many shots are accompanied by an appropriately hefty thud. Directional effects on the whole are superb, too, as sounds often travel seamlessly from side to side and front to back. The track also features a realistic atmosphere; a few saloon scenes deliver a superb sense of environmental ambience and outdoor shots often feature the sounds of nature floating through the soundstage. Completed by superior dialogue reproduction, Silverado's soundtrack does all it can to match the quality of the video presentation, and it never fails in that lofty endeavor.
Silverado Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Following in the footsteps of Dr. Stragenlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Midnight Express, and A River Runs Through It, Silverado arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Sony Pictures as an attractive DigiBook release. Contained within its full color, glossy pages are plenty of photographs; an introduction to the film; production notes; theatrical poster reprints; and cast biographies for Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Rosanna Arquette, John Cleese, Kevin Costner, Brian Dennehy, Danny Glover, Jeff Goldblum, and Linda Hunt. As to the on-disc supplements, things get started with Along the 'Silverado' Trail: A Western Historians' Commentary which features Frank Thompson, Paul Hutton, and Steve Aaron, historians all that come together to speak on "the last of the old style Western." They discuss the genre's ability to cheat death over its history, the varied styles within the genre, the cast, shooting locations, costumes, and more. What's truly great about this track is that it's not the usual pat-on-the-back style commentary. The participants don't always agree, don't always say wholly positive things about the film, and show a broad depth of knowledge but don't necessarily flaunt it. It makes for a must-listen commentary for Western fans.
A Return to Silverado with Kevin Costner (480p, 21:01) features the actor recalling his love of Westerns, the character he played in Silverado, the quality of the script, the work of his fellow actors, and more. The Making of 'Silverado' (480p, 37:01) is a solid piece that covers the expected angles, showcasing behind-the-scenes footage and retrospective interviews with cast and crew. Silverado also represents the debut (alongside The Quick and the Dead) of Sony's "MovieIQ" that offers live, up-to-date details about every scene, including cast and crew filmographies and biographies, soundtrack listings, and more. Also included are 1080p trailers for The Da Vinci Code, Casino Royale, Ghostbusters, A River Runs Through It, and Damages: Season One.
Silverado Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Indeed, "fun" and "quirky" represent what Silverado is all about. A classic Western that hearkens back to the genre's glory days but injects a subtle but not at all difficult-to-spot sense of humor into its clichéd story and stereotypical characters, Lawrence Kasdan's most memorable directorial effort continues to impress nearly a quarter-century after its initial release, and this Blu-ray breathes new life into the picture that makes it feel brand new all over again. Sony's gone and done it again, producing a first-rate Blu-ray presentation that defines what the format is all about: bringing high quality film-like transfers into the home. With grain left intact, color and detail to die for, and the scope presentation preserved, Silverado looks marvelous, and the video transfer is matched by a robust and sensory-pleasing lossless soundtrack. With a few good extras and the introduction of Sony's new MovieIQ feature, Silverado makes for a must-own Blu-ray disc. Highly recommended.
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