Young Guns (Blu-ray) (1988)

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Released 6-Aug-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Trivia
Featurette-The Real Billy The Kid
Trailer-Ultimate Avengers 2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 106:43
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Christopher Cain

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Emilio Estevez
Kiefer Sutherland
Lou Diamond Phillips
Charlie Sheen
Dermot Mulroney
Casey Siemaszko
Terence Stamp
Jack Palance
Terry O'Quinn
Case ?
RPI ? Music Brian Banks
Anthony Marinelli

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None No Audio Data available for this title
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Western has long been a staple of cinema, not in any small part due to the timing of the invention of the motion picture. Since those heady days, many Westerns have come and gone. Some, such as those made by Sergio Leone, have succeeded in turning the conventions of the genre on their ear, leaving a lasting mark upon subsequent productions. Others have been so absurdly bad that they have faded into an obscurity so deep that I am hard pressed to name one of them (Uwe Boll's BloodRayne II: Deliverance appears to take two genres to a whole new nadir). Young Guns is somewhere in the middle. Marcelle Brothers has written a well-researched series of texts on the life of Billy The Kid that, in addition to being quite a lot more interesting than this film, also make it very clear that if the Billy The Kid of this film and the William Antrim of history were to meet, they would not recognise each other. The main site can be found here, with a lengthy dissertation on both of the films' inabilities to keep consistent with history (and not for the better in my opinion) here.

    But historical accuracy is a bad basis on which to write off the entire film, or any entire film for that matter. The real question here is "is it entertaining?". Well, that also depends on which angle you look at it from. Like any good Western, it has some gorgeous imagery, and the chemistry between the members of the ensemble varies from slightly jarring to downright beautiful (Emilio Estevez and Kiefer Sutherland in particular), but the real focus here is on the acting. Emilio Estevez's portrayal of Billy The Kid, as dominated by the myths and fabrications as it is, is probably one of the most memorable. The film follows a loose chronology from the time Antrim meets Tunstall to the time Murphy's thugs gun Tunstall down to the siege at the McSween property. Estevez aside, the heroes of the piece are portrayed by Keifer Sutherland, Dermot Mulroney, Charlie Sheen, Lou Diamond Philips, and Casey Siemaszko. Of this small group, Sutherland and Siemaszko come off the best. Mulroney also puts in a good performance. But make no mistake about it, this is the Emilio Estevez show, through and through.

    I would normally exert myself to write in more detail about the plot of the film, after all, it is an okay piece of entertainment despite all I have been saying. But I have said elsewhere a number of times that the quality of a presentation can have a dramatic effect on how one perceives the content. For a good case study in that, read on...

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Transfer Quality


    In a nutshell, this transfer is bad. No, allow me to repeat this with the proper emphasis: this transfer is BAD. The executive summary is that jagged edges and background pixelisation is all over this transfer to an extent that can only be explained by compression gone horribly wrong.

    The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1 within a 1920 by 1080 window. Whether it is actually progressive or not is also up for debate. As is whether this transfer is not merely an inferior source chucked up to BD.

    When objects are close to the camera, the transfer is acceptably sharp. Not nearly to the extent one expects of Blu-ray, but acceptably sharp. The backgrounds, on the other hand, are so diffuse and harsh that they really warrant a section of their own to list the problems. Low-level noise does not appear to be an issue.

    The colours in the transfer are muted and drab, but this is consistent with the look that was apparently intended by the filmmakers. Browns and greys dominate the palette. One of the few virtues of this transfer is that there is no bleeding or misregistration. Skin tones are quite variable, with actors looking sunburned in one shot and yellow in the next.

    MPEG artefacts are frequently noticed in backgrounds. During the sequence in which we learn that Billy is quite literate, for example, Billy himself is a messy spiral of pixels. And this is by no means an isolated example. A really nasty occurrence at 24:00 robs what is meant to be a pivotal scene of its power. Film-to-video artefacts are also present in the form of aliasing, which was spotted on the opening credits as Tunstall and Skurloc ride into town. Film artefacts were present in small amounts, but well within acceptable limits considering the age of the film, at least where frequency is concerned. A thin vertical line is present at 76:16.

    Subtitles are available in English. They truncate the spoken dialogue somewhat at times.

    Edit, September 18, 2017: In response to some comments made on the review of the Emma BD, I believe that Young Guns is a serious contender for the worst Blu-ray Disc available in this country. I welcome the opportunity to sit with another reviewer and do some A-B comparisons between these two discs, because both fall far, far short of what one should expect as a minimum from the Blu-ray Disc video format. Needless to say, this version of Young Guns should be in the fabled Hall Of Shame.

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


    A choice of two soundtracks is offered with this BD, both of which are variations on the original English dialogue.

    The first, and default, is a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack. The second choice is a DTS HD 6.1 soundtrack. Neither of these soundtracks are lossless, but the DTS option has so much more clarity and separation of the elements that it becomes a non-contest.

    The dialogue is clearer and easier to understand than has been the case in any other medium. The occasional word gets lost here and there, but this is far less of a problem than on previous media. Audio sync does appear to wander at times.

    The score music is by Brian Banks and Anthony Marinelli. It has a certain rustic, country feel that is appropriate to the setting.

    The surround channels are occasionally active to support the gunfights and such directional effects as Chavez's thrown knives. Split surround effects are not heard.

    The subwoofer makes a thud every now and then, usually when one of the larger guns is fired, or the score music really gets going.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The first thing you will see when the disc loads is a submenu from which one can choose to either go to the Top Menu or play the film. This menu remains up for about ten seconds, and makes enough annoying noise to distract the user from making a choice. The Pop-Up Menu covers two thirds of the screen, and does not disappear after being left inactive for an extended period. The Top Menu is fully-featured, but really needs some work in terms of navigation.


    A graphical subtitle track that keeps a count of how many on-screen kills Estevez's Kid scores, little "facts" that coincide with the onscreen happenings, and so forth. Most of them are full of the same kinds of misinformations that have followed the Kid since he was killed. One fact I doubt any onwer of this film is likely to repeat in such a track is that William Antrim was a good five to ten years younger than the rest of the Regulators.

Featurette - The Real Billy The Kid

    A thirty minute, fifty-seven second featurette. Beginning with the words "legend says that he murdered one man for each of the twenty-one years that he lived", this documentary wastes no time in announcing its intention to be complete b******, pardon my language. It appears to have been similarly upchucked to 1080 resolution, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Trailer - Ultimate Avengers 2

    Presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 1080P, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Total running time one minute and forty seconds.

R4 vs R1

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

    A quick look at High-Def Digest suggests that the Region A version of this disc is pretty much identical to the Region B. Similar complaints are made about the ghastly video transfer and the omission of the audio commentary, which also happened to be the best extra from the DVD. Regrettably, neither disc can be recommended in good conscience.


Do we still have a Hall Of Shame? Because this is, without exception or doubt, the worst BD-Video released in Australia to date, and therefore ought to take pride of place there. If I did not know any better about video in general and this was the first example I saw as I tried to get into High Definition, I would very probably get right the hell back out again. The thought that someone who does not have perfect understanding of the complexities of video might cop an eyeful of this literally makes me feel ill.

     Young Guns has been summarised as The Brat Pack In The Wild West. And that really says it all. Under the direction of someone like Clint Eastwood or Sergio Leone, we could have had the definitive biography of Billy The Kid. Regardless of what you think of this film, however, it most certainly deserves a better presentation than this.

    The video transfer is poor. It is poor by DVD standards, and completely unacceptable on BD.

    The audio transfer is acceptable.

    The extras are minimal and unworthy of being spat on in one particular case.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Dean McIntosh (Don't talk about my bio. We don't wanna know.)
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic Viera TH-42PZ700A. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony STR DE-835
SpeakersYamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer

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