Gran Torino (2008)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 3-Jun-2009

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Main Menu Audio
Featurette-2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 111:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:37) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Clint Eastwood
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Clint Eastwood
Christopher Carley
Bee Vang
Ahney Her
Brian Haley
Geraldine Hughes
Dreama Walker
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Kyle Eastwood
Michael Stevens


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

 ‘The things that haunt a guy are the things he wasn’t ordered to do’

    Clint Eastwood, legend of the silver screen, has reportedly decided that his performance in this film, Gran Torino will be his last as an actor. Frankly, considering the quality of his performance here, that is a d*** shame. I suppose though at 79 we can forgive him thinking about taking things easier. We will, of course, continue to be the beneficiaries of his work as a Director with his film The Human Factor in post-production and two other projects in development. During his acting career he was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar twice without winning but has won four Oscars for Directing and Best Picture.

    He was not nominated for Best Actor for this film, but was nominated for a number of other acting awards including a win in the National Board of Review awards. His performance here is excellent as he crafts a character who really appeals to audiences despite his curmudgeonly ways and racist leanings. Walt Kowalski is an old man who lives in the suburbs of Detroit. Despite most Americans moving out of his neighbourhood he has stubbornly stayed. His wife has recently died and her funeral kicks off the film. He is a proud man and a decorated war veteran having served in Korea. He is estranged from his two sons and their families who seem to tolerate him at best. Walt’s only prized possession is his 1972 Ford Gran Torino which he built part of during his time as a Ford employee and now takes pride of place in his garage.

    His neighbourhood is now mostly inhabited by Hmong people who are hill people from Thailand, Laos and China. They fought on the side of the Americans in the Vietnam War and were subsequently persecuted once the war was over. Accordingly, many emigrated to the US. Walt is not happy that they live in his neighbourhood and mostly keeps to himself. Next door to him live a family of Hmong including a old grandmother who is as grumpy as he is and two teenagers, older sister, Sue (Ahnay Her) and her younger brother, Thao (Bee Vang). Thao lacks confidence in himself but is trying to avoid getting caught up in the dangerous gang culture which involves many of the young Hmong community.

    One night Thao is encouraged/forced into attempting to steal Walt’s Gran Torino by some Hmong gang bangers including his older cousin. He is a fairly inept thief and manages to get caught by Walt before escaping after Walt trips in the dark. The following night the gang try to get Thao to have another go at stealing the car, however, this time it leads to a front lawn confrontation between Walt and the gang members in which Walt basically saves Thao from trouble. The local Hmong community show their thanks for Walt’s assistance by bringing him food and flowers, much to his consternation. This meads to Walt developing a relationship with the family next door despite his misgivings. He decides to take Thao under his wing and ‘man him up a bit’. Of course this leads to tension with the gang members involving Walt and the family next door.

    Like many characters played by Eastwood over the years, Walt is a man haunted by previous misdeeds (at least in his own eyes), this time his service in Korea. This character, however, is anything but one-dimensional. He is a curmudgeon but also is dryly humorous and it is surprising how often in a dramatic film such as this you are laughing along with Walt and his friends. It is an incredible feat to have made such a difficult character so easy to like and admire. The dialogue is extremely well written being both amusing and meaningful such as the quote at the top of this review.

    The film is shot in a very naturalistic way, with mostly natural lighting. The film seems to have been digitally graded in sepia tones to achieve the restrained colour scheme represented. I am assuming that this is artistic choice rather than a fault in the transfer. I did not see the film theatrically so cannot really compare.

    The focus here is not really on grand visuals but rather on telling a good story and this it achieves in spades. The film is engrossing, interesting, entertaining and emotional which is a wonderful combination that so many films cannot hope to achieve.

    It is interesting to note that this was Clint Eastwood's biggest ever box office success on a non-inflated dollar basis, taking over $250 million at the box office worldwide.

    Highly recommended.

.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good without being spectacular.

    The feature is presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced which is close to the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The picture was sharp and clear throughout without being as crisp as the best transfers. Shadow detail is somewhat lacking however I get the feeling this is by artistic choice rather than a transfer issue.

    The colour was quite restrained and a little dull, however, I believe this is as a result of an artistic choice about grading rather than a transfer issue.

    There were some very minor MPEG artefacts around people moving.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired for all dialogue and a default subtitle stream which contained subtitles only for some of the Hmong dialogue. They were clear and easy to read.

    There is a layer change at 64:37 which caused a slight pause.

   
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is good but a little flat.

    This DVD contains two audio options an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio Descriptive stereo soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s. The Dolby Digital track seemed to suffer from the lower than optimum bitrate as dialogue was a little difficult to understand and the surround usage was restrained, although this is partly due to the nature of the movie.

    Dialogue was a little difficult to make out at times even without accents. I felt the need to use the subtitles and turn the volume up above my normal listening level to ensure the dialogue was understandable.

    The score is by Kyle Eastwood (one of Clint's sons) and Michael Stevens. It is quite sparse but atmospheric. There are some Hmong gangsta rap tunes and the Golden Globe nominated title song over the end credits.

    The surround speakers were used occasionally for directional effects such as doorbells ringing and atmosphere.

    The subwoofer was really only used for adding to music and minor thumps.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     Subtitles are available on the extras.

Menu

    The menu features music.

Manning the Wheel (9:24)

    Featurette about men and cars. The cast (incl. Eastwood) & crew discuss the car and its role in Walt's life and the film and their first cars. Worth watching.

Gran Torino : More Than a Car (3:58)

    Featurette about a classic car rally and the people who attend.

R4 vs R1

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

    Our local release is being released a few days before Region 1 but they would seem to be very similar in content. The main differences are that the Region 1 version includes French & Spanish soundtracks but Region 4 includes the Audio Descriptive track. It is basically a draw and your purchase will probably depend on price or your need for one of the alternative tracks. This movie is also available on Blu-ray locally.

Summary

    An acting and storytelling triumph from Clint Eastwood.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good but somewhat flat.

    A small selection of extras are included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. 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.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE