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Featured Blu-ray Review: Good Will Hunting

August 20th, 2012

Good Will Hunting - 15th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Good Will Hunting first made its Blu-ray debut way back at this time last year. Seriously. It's been less than one year since the previous Blu-ray release. Why? Obviously opinions about the movie haven't changed in a year, but is there anything new this time around? Are there new extras? Is the video and audio improved?

The Movie

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote and star in this movie. Matt plays Will Hunting, who works as the janitor at M.I.T. At the beginning of the film, we see Professor Gerald Lambeau talk to his students about an important mathematical theorem that he is hoping one of his students will be able to solve during the year. While cleaning the floor, Will sees the problem and the next time he's cleaning up he solves it, but does so anonymously. He's a genius, but he would rather spend time with his decidedly blue-collar friends, Chuckie Sullivan, Morgan O'Mally, and Billy McBride. Hell, calling them "Blue Collar" might be giving them too much credit.

While watching a little league baseball game with the guys, Will spots a guy he went to kindergarten with. The guy was a bully and used to beat him up. Later that day, they spot him again and he decides to get a little payback. Unfortunately, the cops interrupt and he's arrested and charged with assault.

Meanwhile, Professor Lambeau is amazed that someone solved his math, even more so after no one takes credit for doing so. In order to draw out the person, he puts even tougher problem on the board. When the professor catches Will writing on the board, he just assumes he's drawing graffiti and chases him off, but when he looks at what he wrote, he realizes Will is his mystery genius. Of course, Will didn't tell him his name before he ran off.

Fired from his job and waiting for an arraignment, Will and his friends go to a Harvard bar (one of their other friends was bouncing that night and let them in). While there, he embarrasses a Harvard student with his knowledge and gets the phone number of Skylar, another student.

Will's arraignment goes poorly and his given $50,000 bail. Professor Lambeau is able to get him out of jail time, but in exchange, he has to work on some math with the professor. Also, he has to go to therapy sessions. He takes an instant liking to the challenges of math. The therapy sessions he sees as a challenge of a different nature. He read the books written by the therapists in advance and uses that knowledge to tear apart the therapists and drive them away. The professor gets desperate to find a therapist that can stand up to Will, so he goes to his old college roommate, Sean McGuire. Sean McGuire is from South Boston, just like Will. Unlike the other therapists, Sean doesn't wilt under attack, but fights back.

At this point, we start to get deeper into the characters and we run into spoiler territory.

Neither Matt Damon nor Ben Affleck were major stars before this film came out. It was their first screenplay, and it is amazing. It tells a great story, but it is also at its best when it just lets the characters talk to each other. The pair have created characters that feel real and the dialogue and the natural delivery goes a long way in creating that. The script won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and three of the main main leads also earned Oscar nods, (Robin Williams earned his only Oscar for this performance). It's clear from that performance that the script and the acting are the film's main strength. It's not a flashy story, but all of the elements work to create something great.

The Extras

There are two new extras for this edition on the Blu-ray. The first is an hour-long retrospective, which is mostly talking heads with a huge number of people who were involved in the making of the movie including Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Gus Van Sant, Kevin Smith, and others. It is very in-depth. The second featurette is short at just under 17 minutes and focuses on Matt Damon remembering how that movie got made and how it changed his life. The old extras are here including an audio commentary track with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Gus Van Sant. Next up are some deleted scenes, also with audio commentary with the same trio. There are two shorter behind-the-scenes featurettes, and finally a music video and montage from Oscar night.

The film cost just $10 million to make and it doesn't have a flashy video or audio. The level of detail is very strong, but colors tend to be muted, mostly for aesthetic reasons. The blacks are deep, but sometimes swallow details. The audio is clear, but uncomplicated. There's some ambient sounds, but neither the surround sound speakers nor the subwoofer get a workout.

On the other hand, it only costs $11, which is a good deal.

The Verdict

Good Will Hunting is a great movie and it is worth owning on Blu-ray. Is the 15th Anniversary Edition worth the upgrade? It only costs $11 and you get close to 80 minutes of new extras, but I'm not sold that it is worth it. On the other hand, if you don't already own it, now is the perfect time to buy it.

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Filed under: Video Review, Good Will Hunting