THE GREEN MILE
I canít slap enough superlatives on THE GREEN MILE ($20); this wonderful movie is as close to perfect as any film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture is likely to be. Sure, the filmís detractors have complained about the slow pacing, as well as the filmís three-hour length, but this reviewer found every moment of THE GREEN MILE to be rewarding and I actually enjoyed the leisurely pace, which allows the story to unfold in its own good time. THE GREEN MILE is beautifully written, acted and directed movie that truly benefits from the marvelous performances of its wonderful ensemble cast. Set in a death-row cellblock of a Louisiana prison during the depression, THE GREEN MILE proves to be a surprisingly joyous and uplifting movie.
THE GREEN MILE is based upon the Stephen King novel and was adapted for the screen by director Frank Darabont. Darabontís enormously success his directorial debut, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION was also drawn from a King story, which is probably why he chose THE GREEN MILE as a follow-up project. Although the film has been available on DVD for years and a staple of cable network broadcasts, I hate to reveal too much about the plot of THE GREEN MILE, as there are still some out there that have yet to experience this superb film.
The nominal star of THE GREEN MILE is Tom Hanks, who portrays Paul Edgecomb, the guard in charge of his prisonís death row. Edgecomb is a compassionate man, who maintains the dignity of the prisoners awaiting execution; therefore, there are very few problems on his watch. Edgecombís life and the lives of everyone in the cellblock are forever changed with the arrival of a hulking prisoner named John Coffey (Academy Award nominee Michael Clarke Duncan). Although sentenced to death, Coffey is a gentle giant, who makes an indelible impression on everyone who comes in direct contact with him. To say more, would spoil the surprises for those who have yet to see THE GREEN MILE. In addition to Hanks and Duncan, the sterling cast of THE GREEN MILE also features David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter, Graham Greene, Sam Rockwell, Doug Hutchison, Barry Pepper, Patricia Clarkson, Jeffrey DeMunn, Harry Dean Stanton, Dabbs Greer, Eve Brent, William Sadler and Gary Sinise.
Warner Home Video has made THE GREEN MILE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. The original release of THE GREEN MILE looked quite good by 2000 standards, but by 2007 standards... not so much. As for Warnerís new edition of THE GREEN MILE, it bests the old disc by a rather nice margin, as the three-hour film has been spread across two discs, instead of being shoehorned into one. Definition is improved, with the image appearing stronger and crisper on this offering. Colors are also improved and feature better saturated hues, not to mention even more appealing flesh tones. Blacks are wholly accurate, as are the completely stable whites. The film elements appear virtually pristine, and demonstrate little apparent grain. With the added breathing room afforded by spreading the film across two platters, digital compression artifacts are always well contained.
THE GREEN MILE comes with a very nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Much of the time, the sound mix is subdued, due to the talky nature of the material, but there are moments that the soundtrack bursts to life in a highly effective manner. Ambient sound integration helps to create realistic sonic environments throughout. Fidelity is excellent, whether the track is reproducing music or sound effects. The bass channel kicks to life during key moments, but otherwise maintains a very low profile. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the filmís dialogue is always completely understandable. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as an excellent array of supplemental materials. Writer/director Frank Darabont is on hand to provide a running Audio Commentary. Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by writer/director Frank Darabont are also included on Disc One, as are Tom Hanks Makeup Tests, Michael Clarke Duncan Screen Test, a Theatrical Trailer, plus The Teaser Trailer: A Case Study, which shows how a teaser is put together for theatrical consumption. On Disc Two one will find the meatiest supplements- Walking The Mile: The Making Of The Green Mile, a thirty minute program from 1999, plus Miracles And Mystery: Creating The Green Mile, a six-part documentary that runs one hour and forty two minutes and covers the production of the film in extensive detail.
I am a big fan of THE GREEN MILE and am delighted that the film has received an upgraded, feature rich presentation. Highly recommended
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