Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)

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Released 24-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Theatrical Trailer
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 110:23
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Walter Hill

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jason Patric
Wes Studi
Robert Duvall
Gene Hackman
Matt Damon
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Ry Cooder

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, a train riding off into the distance.

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Plot Synopsis

    Geronimo is part of the neo-Western movement of the early 1990s; a slightly revisionist interpretation of the US Government’s policy towards Native Americans. It is, however, quite the mixed bag.

    The film basically follows the story of the attempts by the US Army to pacify the Apache Indians, the last of the tribes to hold out against the US Government policy of Reservation, shortly after the Civil War. After fighting a long campaign against the 6th Cavalry, Geronimo (Wes Studi) finally surrenders to Lieutenant Gatewood (Jason Patric) and agrees to become a farmer on a reservation. But the Apache warrior spirit is unsettled, and after the arrest of a Medicine Man becomes a massacre, the Apache are once more at war with the US Army and the frontier settlers on their land.

    Directed by Walter Hill, who has had a very mixed career in Hollywood (his credits including everything from buddy comedy Red Heat to the remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, Last Man Standing), Geronimo never quite lives up to its promise, and you are left with a feeling of mild dissatisfaction. What should have been a dark and rather nihilistic conclusion just doesn’t carry the weight of the injustice that it should. Still, this is not a bad movie – quite the contrary; the first half of the movie is incredibly good. But it does feel as if it has been shortened; that Hill set out to make a fine three hour epic, and the studio trimmed his film down to a little under two hours. Parts seem rushed, where other scenes are too long in context of the rest of the film. However, without any evidence to suggest that this is the case, I can only blame the script writing of John Miluis (of Conan The Barbarian fame) for these shortcomings.

    Nevertheless, the film certainly does feature some strong performances, most notably by the two leads – Wes Studi and Jason Patric – and Robert Duvall as the hardened white Indian tracker Charlie Sieber. But these are balanced with rather underdeveloped performances by much of the supporting cast, including a young Matt Damon as our central narrator, who starts out strong and then just waffles into the background.

    Still, Geronimo is an interesting tale, and has some magnificent cinematography, as well as some rather well choreographed action sequences. It is definitely worth seeing, but expect some rather turgid monologues which are out of context with the pace of the rest of the film, and a conclusion that just doesn’t quite get there.

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Transfer Quality


    Presented in 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is the original aspect ratio.

    Unfortunately, the studio has chosen to put this on a single layered disc, which has resulted in a noticeable drop in the quality of the picture. There is quite a lot of aliasing, low-level noise and posterization on facial close ups.

    Shadow detail is far from perfect, with a persistent graininess which is at times distracting. Thankfully, most of the film is shot during harsh daylight, but low-level noise is quite apparent in borders of objects on the screen, eg. between mountains and the skyline.

    Colours are generally good, which is important considering much of this film relies on the grandeur of the outdoor cinematography and the hues of red and brown and shades of green and blue.

    There is quite a lot of dirt on the print, which is odd given that this was a fairly recent film.

    There are 6 subtitle options: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Dutch. They are white with a grey border and are easy to read.

    There is no dual-layer pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The default audio track here is an English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. There are also French, German, Italian and Spanish tracks in 2.0 Dolby Digital surround. The foreign language tracks appeared okay, with no significant glitches that I found during my cursory appraisal. The English track bears more discussion.

    Dialogue is easy to understand. There were no apparent audio sync problems.

    The range was adequate, but not perfect, another side effect of having the film on one layer only. Ry Cooder’s score had a good ambience.

    There was, however, some quite noticeable surround use, particularly during the many battle scenes, with gunshots and horses tumbling over in the rears and projected from the sides.

    The subwoofer was used to highlight the music in some ambient scenes, most notably Geronimo’s introspections. Gunshots and the pounding of the horses were also liberally dosed up.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, static with no sound. You can watch them in 16x9, but they look stretched.

“Geronimo” Theatrical Trailer (2:31)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo. The picture on this trailer is very soft.


    Presented in 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced, this is a series of stills with select filmographies for Walter Hill, Jason Patric, Robert Duvall and Gene Hackman.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version has a Pan & Scan version as well as a 2.35:1 16x9 enhanced version and an English 2.0 Dolby Surround track. Widescreen Review gave the disc an impressive write up, and it is quite possible that the picture is better on the R1 release as NTSC takes considerably less room to transfer than PAL, meaning less resulting MPEG artefacts. However, NTSC has its own faults.

    If Pan & Scan is important to you, I would go with the R1 release. Otherwise, it is pretty much a mix and match. Without knowing for sure whether the R1 picture is better, I would spare the importation expense and settle for the R4 release.


    Geronimo is an interesting neo-Western, but not one of the best. It feels underdeveloped and really kind of peters out towards the end.

    Video is marred by persistent aliasing.

    The sound is good, but it is far from being the best 5.1 Dolby Digital mix I have heard.

    The extras are pretty poor.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, June 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
aliasing ?? - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED