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THE QUICK AND THE DEAD ($27) is director Sam Raimiís visually brilliant homage to the spaghetti westerns of yore. Utilizing the stylistic elements of the western genre as a starting point, Raimi who is know for his own visual dexterity, places a new spin on tried and true western imagery. The plot of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD follows a mysterious woman named Ellen (Sharon Stone), who rides into the lawless town of Redemption to participate a shooting contest that will pit one gunfighter against another. While most of the shootists have been drawn to Redemption by the promise of a huge cash prize, Ellen has come to town to settle an old score with John Herod (Gene Hackman), the ruthless outlaw who controls the town and is sponsoring the contest. Also participating in the contest is The Kid (Leonardo DiCaprio), who purports to be Herodís illegitimate son and Cort (Russell Crowe), a man of the cloth, who has been forced into the contest at gunpoint. The cast of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD also includes Roberts Blossom, Kevin Conway, Keith David, Lance Henriksen, Pat Hingle and Gary Sinise.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made their Superbit DVD edition of THE QUICK AND THE DEAD available in a 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for 16:9 displays. This actually a pretty great looking transfer that shows off Dante Spinottiís excellent western cinematography. The Superbit release brings out more of the visual richness of the film than what was present in the fine looking movie only version. Both sharpness and detail are excellent, which makes for an even more pleasing presentation on a large wide screen display. Colors appear vivid and highly saturated, without evidence of chroma noise or smearing. Warm hues, like golds, oranges and reds appear simply marvelous on this release. Blacks are completely pure, as are the whites. Additionally, the picture boasts excellent contrast and shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer displays a handful of blemishes, but is otherwise quite clean. As expected, the high bit rate of the Superbit process keeps digital compression artifacts totally out of sight.

Since this is a Superbit release, THE QUICK AND THE DEAD features 5.1 channel soundtracks in both the Dolby Digital and DTS varieties. The sound mixes are relatively similar in design, with a fairly aggressive use of the rear channels for directional effects, as well as ambient sounds and musical fill. As for the forward soundstage, it is broad and hearty, but the sound design provides for a clean wrap around into the surround channels, which creates an immersive effect. Dialogue is completely understandable and voices are reproduced with a nice natural timbre. Alan Silvestriís western flavored score is very nicely integrated into the mix and is rendered with excellent musical fidelity. The bass channel is solid and very deep, which augments the filmís gunshots and explosions. As for the differences between the Dolby Digital and DTS, there really arenít all that many. However, DTS does have a slight edge in terms of lower bass extension and musical warmth. English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean subtitles have been provided on the DVD. The basic interactive menus offer access to the standard set up and scene selection features. No supplements are provided on this Superbit title, since all of the storage space on the DVD has been utilized to maximize the bit rate for the video and audio.

THE QUICK AND THE DEAD is a visually stunning western as well as being a very impressive addition to Columbia TriStarís Superbit series. If you havenít picked up THE QUICK AND THE DEAD before now, youíll want to add this release to your arsenal. And, if you own the standard release DVD, you will definitely want to give serious consideration to an upgrade.



The Quick and the Dead (Superbit Collection) (1995)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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