has an average rating of 8.6 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
a very extensive & include collectibles
– 114 minutes
This uses 27.5GB for the movie out of 44.7GB total.
Street Date: April 5th, 2011
Overall Verdict – VERY Highly Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was directed by the now legendary Martin Scorsese back in 1976 and starred a young Robert De Niro; who had previously worked with the director on “Mean Streets” from 1973. Speaking of those who worked with Scorsese previously and would again, the film was written by Paul Schrader — who in 1980 would also write the screenplay for “Raging Bull“, which also starred De Niro. Schrader would go on to work again with Scorsese on a few other films like “The Last Temptation of Christ” from 1988. Yes, I know, I’m getting a bit too much into the history of Mr. Scorsese here and straying away from this film — so back to discussing “Taxi Driver” as a film and its story — for those who have never seen this now 35-year-old classic film.
This tells the story of a Vietnam veteran name “Travis Bickle” (played by Robert De Niro) living in New York City that decides to take the job as a taxi driver to pre-occupy himself with the simple fact that he can’t sleep. So he becomes a taxi driver, hence the film’s title. It’s quite obvious that our main character is suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that most all veterans have. This guy is sincere but he is clearly disturbed. He doesn’t really have any friends, aside from fellow cab drivers he shoots the shit with from time to time. Eventually our main character finds a girl that he likes. She works at the campaign headquarters for a (fictional) presidential candidate. He eventually gets the courage to go up to her (at work) and actually ask her out on a date. They have a date, no spoiler involved, just long-story short, it doesn’t really go anywhere and that leaves our main character frustrated and on the border-line of stalking the female. He instead of pursuing stalking gets pre-occupied (as he had hoped) in his job when he meets a young teenage prostitute trying to escape from a pimp. This isn’t a sexual relationship though as you might think. Our main character is trying to help this under-age 12 year-old girl (played by a young Jodie Foster) escape the clutches of the pimp (played by Harvey Keitel). On top of all of this, things start to revolve around a scenario roughly 45 minutes into the film in which our main character “Travis” starts to dislike his job and is determined to do something about the things going-on within his sociological circle, and so he purchases a few firearms in the name of what he believes to be right. Later he engineers a mo-hawk hairstyle, wears a political pin (that states “We ARE the People“) and goes a bit ape-shit.
“Taxi Driver” 35 years later still remains a hard-hitting, emotional and controversial film. It depicts a Vietnam vet that is emotionally disturbed which was not an isolated incident during that time period. The film serves as a great trip back to 1976 visually as well, with this really impressive new Hi-Def restoration that I’ll be discussing further below. Let me end by saying that this (“Taxi Driver“) is one of my personal favorite films that Martin Scorsese has done to-date and includes one of my favorite performances by Robert De Niro. Also there are some good performances in supporting roles by Albert Brooks, Cybill Shepard, and Peter Boyle.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications for the aspect ratio, this was shot on traditional 35mm film. This comes from a new 4K digital restoration that was approved by the original cinematographer (DP) Michael Chapman and even by the director Martin Scorsese. There’s a lot of film grain still present here as you’ll notice in the film’s opening credits — which appear to have been touched up “a bit” but still left pretty much how they originally appeared in theaters. This is a good thing, the film grain being left in the title sequence especially early on was a great sign this restoration was “the real deal” so-to-speak. The black level here is perfectly solid, the color palette is very vibrant, with strong obvious emphasis on the yellow of taxi cabs, and the fleshtones appear accurate throughout. Once things brighten up in the first daytime shots around 10 minutes in, for instance 30 seconds later you’ll see some real detail that will almost make your jaw drop once you realize this is a 35 year-old film and that you just saw a young Martin Scorsese make his first cameo in the film but don’t worry, he’ll be back later in the film.
There is a scene worth mentioning that lacks the exact perfection depicted within this video quality of this review — this occurs roughly 1:38:03 in, and in general reference to the black level and color palette, things are simply a bit off in terms of saturation. There’s actually back story to that but I’ll leave that to the bonus materials to explain it. Let’s get slightly technical here for a moment. This actually uses a good 27 gigabytes or so for the film itself on the disc and it is pretty damn impressive visually; for sure the best the film has EVER looked. There’s lots of detail here, most newfound to home video, as mentioned — that hasn’t been there in along time; likely since its theatrical run. I’m happy to report there are no signs of any compression flaws here, nor signs of excessive use of DNR or EE filters. This restoration should leave even purists extremely pleased. There is one slight problem I found in terms of visual continuity that seemed “off” (so-to-speak) at the 1:38:03 time stamp but this only lasts a minute or so. Having said that, still all and all, this earns a very impressive, perfect even, “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. It’s up there (almost) with the restoration done of “The Godfather” if you ask me, which I’m assuming you did; if you’re reading my reviews. This occurs within the climax/end sequences of this film, which seems a bit “rough” in comparison to the rest of the release’s runtime. HERE and HERE are two screenshots of what I’m talking about. Feel free to look at the other screenshots close as you’d like — as you’ll find very few (if any) problems in this restoration aside from the one mentioned above. Like I said, the film has never looked better. Kudos to Sony for a job well done and to Scorsese for being involved with the restoration.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Video doesn’t seem to be the only part that got a new digital restoration as this DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix packs quiet a bit of a new “punch” that the DVD never had in terms of fidelity. The music during the opening credits for example; there’s a lot more rear channel use and LFE (bass) that makes it subtle, yet also very bold in its climactic build-ups. Once dialogue starts two and a half minutes in, it’s delivered very crisp, and clearly through the front center channel speaker — never being drowned out or requiring any volume adjustment. The mix here is solid, just like the film a good 35 years later. There’s no hiss, cracks or anything here in the audio transfer. It’s just top-notch, and does the film justice. The jazz music here that makes up the original score sounds great and consists of the primary rear channel and LFE presence experienced. Again, and as mentioned, all of this as sum has a lot more fidelity than it did on previous home video releases (namely DVD); this also applies to the sound mix of sound effects presented within the 5.1 setup. All and all, this earns an impressive “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.
Bonus Materials are presented in both 1080i Hi-Def (HD) and Standard Definition (SD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound — unless noted otherwise below.
- BD-Live is included on this Sony Blu-ray Disc release which requires the user to be on a “Profile 2.0” capable Blu-ray Disc Player with Internet connectivity. Also included is the “movieIQ” feature.
- “Interactive Script to Screen” uses Bonus View to deliver a Picture-In-Picture style experience that displays the actual script to the film in real-time as you watch the film with several options to change the size of the film as well as stop and browse through the script itself. This does require the user to be on a “Profile 1.1” capable Blu-ray Disc Player to do the PIP.
- Original 1986 AUDIO Commentary with Director Martin Scorsese and Writer Paul Schrader recorded by The Criterion Collection is very, very nice to see included and to see that The Criterion Collection was co-operative with both the filmmaker and here Sony.
- Audio Commentary by Writer Paul Schrader
- Audio Commentary by Professor Robert Kolker
- “Martin Scorsese on Taxi Driver” (16:52 – HD 1080i)
- “God’s Lonely Man” (21:42 – HD 1080i) features interviews with Screenwriter Paul Schrader and Robert Kolker (author of “A Cinema of Loneliness“); all discussing the film’s main character and script.
- “Producing Taxi Driver” (9:53 – HD 1080i) interviews with Michael Phillips (Producer), and Paul Schrader (Writer) on lots of behind-the-scenes stills of the filmmakers, cast, and crew.
- “Influence and Appreciation: A Martin Scorsese Tribute” (18:30 – HD 1080i) features interviews with folks like fellow Director Oliver Stone, Screenwriter Paul Schrader, Actor Robert De Niro, Author Robert Kolker, Director of Photography Michael Chapman, and fellow Filmmaker Roger Corman.
- “Taxi Driver Stories” (22:23 – HD 1080i) interviews with real taxi drivers; need I say more.
- “Making Taxi Driver” (1:10:55 – SD) is an old DVD featurette.
- “Travis’ New York” (6:16 – HD 1080i)
- “Travis’ New York Locations” (4:49 – HD 1080i) shows viewers 1975 versus 2006 comparisons.
- “Storyboard to Film Comparisons with Martin Scorsese” (8:21 – HD 1080i)
- “Animated Photo Galleries” (9:28 – HD 1080i) play as a video, without the need to use the remote.
Overall, the bonus materials are very in-depth and lengthy with lots of new material in Hi-Def added in as well as some ports of DVD extras — even a Criterion Collection audio commentary with the director. Fans will also love the collectible packaging and artwork cards included as well. Sony has done this film justice in terms of bonus materials.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Be PATIENT with the loading times, as you should keep in mind that these files are (on average) at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.