Tags: DigiBook, Gary Oldman, JFK, Jim Garrison, Joe Pesci, John Candy, John F. Kennedy, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Costner, Laurie Metcalf, Nigel Turner, Oliver Stone, Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Wayne Knight
has an average rating of 8.0 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 & Dolby Digital 5.1
include some new material & DigiBook
– 205 minutes
This uses 35.7GB for the movie out of 42.8GB total.
Overall Verdict – Highly Recommended
The Movie Itself is directed by Oliver Stone and based off true events surrounding the Louisiana District Attorney, Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) who became obsessed with uncovering the truth with regard to the JFK assassination conspiracy.
I can distinctly remember the first time I popped in the DVD copy of “JFK“ back in 2002. I remember reading a plethora of mixed reviews online, and when I turned to my friends to see what they thought of it, none of them had ever seen it. At the time, I was going through an Oliver Stone phase, and as I recall, I was apprehensive about “JFK” because it was said to take place predominantly after the assassination. Judging it superficially, from the looks of the DVD/VHS cover, I had always assumed that Kevin Costner played JFK, and so you can imagine my confusion when I came to find out that Costner played Louisiana’s District Attorney, Jim Garrison — a man, who seemed to me, so far removed from the events that took place in Dallas, that it must be one of those films that is only loosely based on true events, or maybe it just wasn’t any good.
These were the conclusions that I came to before watching the film.
After the film, however, was a different story entirely.
I felt that my eyes had been opened for the first time. I could hardly contain myself. At any opportunity I had, I would try and convince people to watch the film, and I would do my best to relay the fact that JFK was not killed by a lone gunman, nor was Lee Harvey Oswald a shooter. I was certain of this. The film had told me so. It was based on a true story after all, right?
Well, yes and no. Oliver Stone took a number of creative liberties in bringing Jim Garrison’s story to the silver screen, but he also presents a wealth of facts as well. Unfortunately, for many people, they are far too quick to dismiss the film because of the dense narrative, and the ever-present question of what is truly factual amidst the fiction.
For me, it wasn’t until the following year, in November 2003 — the fortieth anniversary of JFK’s assassination — that my interest was renewed in the JFK conspiracy, thanks to the re-airing of the History Channel’s Special, “The Men Who Killed Kennedy” by Nigel Turner. The compelling series delves deeply into the dense conspiracy materials/stories and eye-witness accounts of the events that transpired, before, during and long after the assassination took place. The program was able to corroborate many of the things detailed in the texts of which Stone’s film was based, and it was also able to introduce far more incriminating evidence that leaves little doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole gunmen, or that he was even involved in the assassination at all.
Now, while much of that might seem tangential or arbitrary given the fact that we’re reviewing “JFK: The Director’s Cut“, and not any of the aforementioned sources, I feel that it’s important to understand that this film isn’t — at least in my opinion — based primarily on fiction, despite what others might tell you.
For those of you sitting there wondering why I’m not going into a lot of depth with regard to the film material, I’ve opted not to, in favor of preserving the twists and turns in the film’s narrative/true events for first time readers/viewers. Personally, I feel that’s necessary, after all, the does a far greater job stringing the events together anyway.
There’s simply no doubt about it, “JFK” is a controversial film. It has polarized audiences since its release in 1991, but it continues to enthrall audiences the world over, and I think it remains as one of the most important American films ever made, if not one of the most important of all time. Many people would argue against that, and that’s fine, it’s simply my opinion.
Say what you will about the factual basis, and feel free to debate about what is presented in the film, because that’s the intended effect, and it is precisely what the film is trying to get you to do. Question the facts. Seek your own truth.
Obviously, not everyone will be a believer — let alone a fan of the film — nor will everyone care to see the assassination for what it might have been. And truthfully, I can’t really blame them. It’s scary to think that our President, can be killed at any moment, by anyone, perhaps even by the very people he’s chosen to empower. And lastly, to borrow from Michael Corleone and The Godfather, “If anything in life is certain, if history has taught anything, it’s that anyone can be killed.”
If nothing else, “JFK” is proof of that.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p in VC-1 on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc) and presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to bring a film like JFK into the HD realm. Shot on nearly every available technology and film size at the time — save for 70mm, or Super 35mm — Oliver Stone’s epic was captured on video, 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm. This style/technique brings an incredible amount of realism to the “past” inserts/flashbacks, especially the re-creation elements of the assassination, as well as the disturbing autopsy scene. Of course, these artistic choices don’t come without some slight drawbacks. Image quality suffers somewhat, depending on the variables inherent in the camera/film technology, and as a result, some grain hounds will not be impressed. However, film purists will be delighted to see the film presented in its original state, unmarred by the likes of artificial Digital Noise Reduction, that too often rears its nasty head, in far too many titles today.
On the other hand, some people may take up arms against the soft appearance of the image, but this was intentional on Stone’s part. Whether he shot the film with a diffusion filter, or opted to add the film effects in post production, JFK on Blu-ray remains unwaveringly true to the original source material. It’s also worth nothing that not every scene has this “glow” effect. Throughout the film’s running time there are number of scenes that boast incredibly improved clarity over the SD counterparts. Of note, is the conversation scene between Jim Garrison and Mr. X. In a quick A/B comparison between the two versions I own on SD, the Blu-ray manages to best both of them, hands down. While not all scenes are as revelatory, this version contains moments of clarity that are showcased beautifully here on this disc, despite the mixed media, and the slightly diffused end-result.
Without question, this is the best JFK has ever looked, and conceivably it is the best it will look for some time to come. It might not knock your socks off, but fans of the film will be thrilled to behold this new “DigiBook” release from Warner Brothers, and any fence-sitters should look no further for a reason to ditch their SD copies.
Audio Quality on this release is in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps. Obviously the 3 hour+ epic “JFK” is heavily based on it’s dialogue which is delivered perfectly through primarily the front center channel and occasionally left and right front speakers. “JFK” received a musical Score by John Williams, who most of you probably remember for his work on the “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” films. It’s safe to say his wonderful Score is done justice here in both the Dolby TrueHD and Digital 5.1 tracks. The rear channel presence is actually more than you’d expect but I will say bass presence is minimal.
In regards further to the Score, the flashback sequences hold some excellent use of anxious tones to convey emotion at times with nice rear channel and bass presence. Now back to dialogue. Dialogue is delivered very distinct throughout and never requires any volume adjustments. Sound effects, Foley and so forth all come across nicely but never overwhelm you. The only thing that can be overwhelming at times — in a good way — is the musical Score by John Williams and ambient sound effects. Overall, I’ll say that Warner has done an excellent job here with the film’s audio in a new Hi-Res audio format. “4 Star Rating” for audio quality on this release.
Bonus Materials are presented in 480p Standard Definition video using the VC-1 codec and Dolby Digital 2.0 @192kbps Stereo audio.
- Audio Commentary by Director Oliver Stone
- “Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy” (90 minutes) gives you an extremely in-depth look at the conspiracy theories regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (55 minutes) include optional audio commentary by Director Oliver Stone. A total of 12 scenes are found here and prove to be rather informative and obviously in-depth with a generous runtime.
- Multimedia Essays are included that shed some new light on developments in the JFK conspiracy.
- “Assassination Update – The New Documents” (30 minutes)
- “Meet Mr. X: The Personality & Thoughts of Fletcher Prouty (11 minutes) takes a look at the real-life person who inspired the “Mr. X” character played by Donald Sutherland in the film.
Overall, Warner has done a great job on including material here but I think they would have done better by including some additional JFK conspiracy documentaries like the one from The History Channel for example and maybe providing a pop-up trivia track using BD-Java. Aside from my complaints of the things I felt were lacking this does prove impressive as a set of supplemental material.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.