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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Wyatt Earp - Two Disc Special Edition (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).



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#1 of 46 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted May 11 2004 - 10:07 AM

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Wyatt Earp – Two Disc Special Edition





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1994
Rated: PG-13
Film Length: 190 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
Audio: DD 5.1
Color/B&W: Color
Languages: English & French
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $26.99
Package: 3 Panel gatefold Digipak with cardboard slipcover case





The Feature:
On May 18th, Warner Brothers is set to release three more of their highly coveted Two Disc Special Editions. Due to be released is the 1956 Academy Award winning film for Best Picture, Around The World In 80 Days, the 1973 Bruce Lee classic, Enter The Dragon and the feature film, 1994’s Wyatt Earp. The film boasts a veritable whose who of stars featuring Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, Gene Hackman, Michael Madsen, Mark Harmon, Isabella Rossellini, Bill Pullman and Tom Sizemore to name just a few. The film was directed by Lawrence Kasdan who also brought us such favorites as The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist and Grand Canyon.

Unfortunately, for fans of the western genre, there hasn’t been much to get excited over during the past 10-15. It seems as though much of the interest in the once popular genre has waned for the more popular big budget action adventures and we’ve really only seen a handful of good westerns come out of Hollywood in the past decade or so. For an absolutely wonderful read on the history of westerns produced by Warner Brothers, I strongly suggest having a look at Barrie Maxwell’s recent article published at the Digital Bits. A superb article.

While there are no shortages of films featuring Earp and the legendary OK Corral gunfight, this version tells the story of the man who was perhaps, the most famous of lawmen in the Wild West. The story starts by showing a young Wyatt eager to leave the family farm to enlist in the war right up to the final years of his life. The film spends a great deal of time showing a young Wyatt growing up and eventually finding love and soon loosing it and the affects the loss had on his own life. Obviously, there are a great deal of myths and legends about Wyatt Earp, surrounding the man himself. Rather than focusing totally on the legendary OK Corral gunfight, there is an emphasis on the events prior to Tombstone which molded Wyatt Earp, the man. He is portrayed as a very powerful individual who, while fighting on the side of the law, could also be cold-hearted, cruel and excessively violent at times, all traits which were undoubtedly necessary during a period of lawlessness.

The biggest criticism of this film always seems to center around its 3+ hours running time, and personally, I think it is appropriate. That time is necessary to allow us to become familiar with his family members and seeing Wyatt for more than he appears, a lawman. Rarely, do I have a problem with long pictures and this film really flew by. I do find myself having to make one special note regarding one of the stars, Dennis Quaid. Beyond Costner’s performance which was outstanding, Dennis Quaid (who got down to a mere 140 pounds to play the part of a gaunt Doc Holliday, dying of tuberculosis) in my opinion, gave the best performance of his career. I found myself wanting him to show up on camera – never getting enough of him. What a performance - absolutely brilliant.

The film is presented in the standard WB Two Disc Special Edition Digipak with a cardboard slipcover. The film is 190 minutes in length. Thankfully, half of the film is on disc one while the second half and the special features can be found on disc two.



Video:
Whether you love this film or absolutely detest it, one thing is for sure; it is absolutely beautiful to look at. The film clocks in at a potentially butt numbing 3+ hours and when it was over, I felt like I had returned from vacation. The cinematography is a work of beauty and this is a very nice video transfer.

Colors were gorgeous and vibrant and perfectly saturated. Skin tones were equally impressive and remained accurate throughout the film. Blacks were as dark as imaginable and whites were contrasted cleanly.

The image detail was razor sharp throughout the majority of the film with only a few instances of softness. Close-ups were usually exceptionally detailed and clear. There was a decent amount of dimensionality which rendered an image that was rather film-like throughout.

There was only a slight hint of very fine grain which showed up sporadically and beside a few blemishes, the print appeared mostly clean throughout. The image was mostly stable and I detected a slight amount of artifacting during a few of the sky scenes and thankfully edge enhancement was kept to a minimum.

OK… you’ve asked for stars, so we’ll try it out. This transfer is gorgeous.

Video: 4.5/5
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Audio:
The track is a Dolby Digital encoded 5.1 soundtrack which is pretty adept at doing its job in a fairly aggressive manner.

The track is clean and free of any noise or other anomalies. Overall, the tonality of the track is natural with slight warmth to it. Dialogue was always clear, bold and intelligible and never became lost during the many action sequences. Nor was it ever found competing during the brilliant score of James Newton Howard. Speaking of which, was beautifully enveloping with a fairly wide soundstage that was pleasingly spatial.

The dynamic range was rather expansive while the subtlest grasses could be heard blowing to the thunderous concussive-ness of the gunshots – not Open Range thunderous mind you, but plenty adequate.

There are a number of gun battles, thunderstorms and general ambiance that show up through the deployment of the surround channels, all of which were tactfully done. There was also a rather frequent use of LFE as well to accompany such things as gunshots, buffalo stampedes and music scoring – again, all very tastefully done.

This is a very nice soundtrack which is very tastefully done.

Audio: 4/5
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Special Features:
This isn’t quite the jam packed two disc set that we’ve become accustomed to with many of the WB special editions, although what has been included is solid. I’m sure part of that is due to fact that half of the film has been (thankfully) put on disc two. The following features can be located on disc two:
[*] All New It Happened That Way which is by no means all new, is a short featurette which discusses Wyatt Earp – the lawman as a brief biography as well as many of the characters who appear in the picture. Mostly narrated by Lawrence Kasdan, many of the performers appear as well. This was recorded during the production of the film. Duration: 14:03 minutes.
[*] The next feature is 1994 TV Special Wyatt Earp: Walk With A Legend is narrated by Tom Skerritt and was produced and used to promote the film initially in 1994. This is the more interesting of the two special features located on the disc. Initially, the special starts by highlighting many of the epic features we now consider favorites such as How The West Was Won, Ben Hur and Spartacus. There is also a great deal of time spent discussing some of the masters of these epics such as John Ford as they discuss The Searchers and My Darling Clementine, an interview clip of David Lean and a brief discussion on Doctor Zhivago, also interviewed is Charlton Heston. The special then focuses on the feature which discusses the creation of the set, the costume designer and a number of behind the scene clips. Duration: 22:41 minutes.
[*] There are 11 Deleted Scenes (or “Lifted Scenes” as referred to on the package, presumably a Kasdanism). They are: On the wagon train, Wyatt courts Urilla, The wedding reception, Staking buffalo skins, Dealing with lawbreakers, Facing Wyatt Earp, Kate is back, Josie leaves Behan, Wyatt and Doc are jailed, Before the attack on Morgan, Behan’s posse. The total time for the deleted scenes clock in at 18:17 minutes.
[*] Finally, the Theatrical Trailer is included which does perfect justice to this wonderful and beautiful looking film. Duration: 3:28 minutes.

Special Features: 3.5/5
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

**Special Features rated for the quality of supplement, not the quantity**



Final Thoughts:
To be honest, when this SE was initially announced, I found myself scratching my head questioning whether the film was worthy of the two disc status. Well, I had forgotten much of the film and after watching it again, I can see why the title was in such great demand. Rarely do three hours in a theater “fly by”… and in this case, it did.

For those who have patiently awaited the release of this title, you are about to be rewarded handsomely as WB has done another commendable job of bringing this long awaiting title to the home video market.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 (not an average)
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Highly Recommended…!!




Release Date: May 18th, 2004
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 46 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted May 11 2004 - 10:17 AM

Herb!

...just when I thought I had my DVD buying under control, you are going to cost me $26.99!! lol...thanks for the review! stars Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image...eh? Posted Image

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#3 of 46 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted May 11 2004 - 10:27 AM

Michael... crack that wallet open...Posted Image

Quote:
thanks for the review! stars ...eh?


The people have spoken... we'll see how it goes.

Herb.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#4 of 46 OFFLINE   Harold Wazzu

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Posted May 11 2004 - 10:35 AM

Many people have concerns about the splitting of the movies between 2 discs, do you think the split affects the experience at all and/or was it at a good place in the movie?

#5 of 46 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted May 11 2004 - 12:18 PM

Great review! Is this the extended version that was released on LD?

#6 of 46 OFFLINE   Bradley-E

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Posted May 11 2004 - 12:25 PM

I am looking forward to this. It appears that I am not the only person who liked this film.

#7 of 46 OFFLINE   Grady Reid

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Posted May 11 2004 - 03:09 PM

Quote:
Is this the extended version that was released on LD?

No. The running time of that cut- called the Expanded Edition- was 212 minutes (I still have my letterboxed vhs copy!). Apparently, this new dvd edition is the theatrical version. Can any hardcore fans out there confirm if the "lifted scenes" were those put into the Expanded Edition in 1995?

#8 of 46 OFFLINE   Carlo Medina

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Posted May 11 2004 - 05:09 PM

Great review Herb...don't suppose ya got one for Enter the Dragon in the queue, do you? Posted Image

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#9 of 46 OFFLINE   StevenFC

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Posted May 11 2004 - 06:53 PM

So is this worth a blind buy for a Western fan?
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#10 of 46 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted May 11 2004 - 09:52 PM

Quote:
So is this worth a blind buy for a Western fan?

Indeed it is; one of Costner's best performances IMHO, quite different from Tombstone (which I also liked), and Kasdan handles the chaos of the shootout particularly well.

Herb, can I reiterate a previous question. Where exactly is the split, have Warners done it in an appropriate place?

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#11 of 46 OFFLINE   Brent Bridgeman

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Posted May 12 2004 - 01:11 AM

Herb, don't forget "Silverado", another great western by Lawrence Kasdan (with the great Scott Glenn). Thanks for the review, I'll definitely be picking this up next week, and the 4.5/5 video quality really gets me excited.

#12 of 46 OFFLINE   GlennH

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Posted May 12 2004 - 01:38 AM

I've never seen this film. I'll have to check it out. Checking at IMDB, I see this for the run time:
Quote:
Runtime: USA:191 min / USA:212 min (extended edition)
What's the story with that "extended edition," apparently not on the DVD?

#13 of 46 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted May 12 2004 - 01:40 AM

Harold/John:

The break takes place at the 89:09 mark, just after Wyatt enters the saloon and fires the shotgun blast into the ceiling and says "my name is Wyatt Earp - it all ends now!" Personally, I have no problem with the location and I think it has been tactfully placed.

Quote:
Great review Herb...don't suppose ya got one for Enter the Dragon in the queue, do you?

It is indeed Carlo. Sometime this week.

Grady, I’m by no means a hardcore fan – sorry I can’t help with the lifted scenes.

Steve, I’d almost say yes because of Quaid’s performance alone… it really is a beautiful film – I really enjoyed it.

Herb.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#14 of 46 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted May 12 2004 - 01:52 AM

Quote:
The break takes place at the 89:09 mark, just after Wyatt enters the saloon and fires the shotgun blast into the ceiling and says "my name is Wyatt Earp - it all ends now!" Personally, I have no problem with the location and I think it has been tactfully placed.

Herb Posted Image Sounds like the perfect place, and I've now reordered.

Quote:
What's the story with that "extended edition," apparently not on the DVD?

As I understand it, the Directors Cut / Extended edition made it to LD only, with the extra minutes accounting for most, if not all, of the 'lifted scenes' on the second disc of this DVD edition.

I wonder why there wasn't more input from Kasdan in this editon? Not a commentary, a new intro., or new retrospective to be seen? It's also strange that if the LD featured the 'Directors Cut', Warners have decided against including the missing scenes in the body of the feature or at least giving us the option of seeing them integrated into it via seamless branching. Just curious...

---
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So many films, so little time...
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Lt. Col. Thursday: Beaufort; no preliminary nonsense with him, no ceremonial phrasing. Straight from the shoulder as I tell you, do you hear me? They're recalcitrant swine and they must feel it...


#15 of 46 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted May 12 2004 - 03:03 AM

Excellent, I forgot about this title coming out so soon. Thanks for the great review Herb. Looking very forward to picking this title up.
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#16 of 46 OFFLINE   MikeEckman

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Posted May 12 2004 - 03:22 AM

Ive never seen this film either, but from what Ive read, I will have no problem picking this up as soon as its out!
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#17 of 46 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted May 12 2004 - 04:36 AM

Quote:
Can any hardcore fans out there confirm if the "lifted scenes" were those put into the Expanded Edition in 1995?

Since I don't have the DVD, I can only go by the listing that came with the special edition LD. There were 15 additions or scene extensions for the LD; from the titles in Herb's review, it appears that they include all of the material in the DVD supplements. Apparently there are four extensions or extras that were not included on the DVD.

Quote:
It's also strange that if the LD featured the 'Directors Cut', Warners have decided against including the missing scenes in the body of the feature or at least giving us the option of seeing them integrated into it via seamless branching.

Here's what Kasdan said in his notes with the LD:

Quote:
Our first assembly of the film was somewhere in the area of three hours and 50 minutes long, not nearly as long as I had feared or forecast. When we had cut out those things which were clearly unnecessary or unsuccessful, we had a movie that was about three-and-a-half hours long. That is the version of the film that you now hold in your hands.

I did not believe we could release the film at that length and retain the interest of the audience. There was yet another layer of scenes that clearly were not necessary to the progression of the story. I had real affection for some of these scenes and felt that others added nicely to the portrait of Wyatt or to the lyrical sweep of the film. But I decided that the theatrical release of the film was better served by taking these scenes out. We knew at the time that we wanted to have the longer version fully finished for eventual release on laser disc. To that end, all of these scenes were completed, color-timed and sound-mixed, and integrated into this Expanded Edition.

I am not a great believer in the "director's cut" of a film. I have been fortunate in that all of the films I have made have been released exactly as I wanted them to be at the time that I finished them. So in the truest sense, each has been the "director's cut." My problem with the concept is this: there is not one my movies that I wouldn't change today if given the opportunity. That was true a month after their release and five years after that. The film that's released is not for me one that has arrived at some level of absolute perfection. What one hopes is that you have released the best version of that movies you could come up with given the limitations of time, resources, talent and perspective -- the last two being the killers. You can't do much about the limits of your talent, but there is often a real wistfulness about the lack of distance necessary to get some perspective on a film you've been living with night and day for up to two years. Sometimes it seems amazing to me that so many movies turn out as well as they do.
From other parts of the Kasdan's essay, it's clear that he was still smarting from the negative critical reaction (and box office failure) of the previous year. The conclusion of the essay is virtually a gauntlet thrown down to the film's detractors:

Quote:
And so, for that select group of people who "can't get enough" of Wyatt Earp, we present the Special Expanded Edition. All others should stay away and keep quiet.
Maybe with more time and "perspective", Kasdan came to prefer his theatrical cut. Or maybe he's been reading the HTF and noted the howls of protest every time the original theatrical version of a film isn't provided. Posted Image

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#18 of 46 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted May 12 2004 - 04:46 AM

A note of caution for those considering a blind buy: My wife and I argue about very few things, but if I want to provoke her, all I have to do is mention Wyatt Earp.

In the summer of 1994, I sat entranced in the theater during the entire running time, while she fidgeted next to me and kept checking her watch. Since then, she won't accompany me to either Westerns or Costner movies. It's a love-it-or-hate-it film, with a strong focus on character, and action scenes that don't play out the way you expect. (The film's version of the gunfight at OK Corral is probably the shortest in any Wyatt Earp film.) If it grabs you, it's an experience that few films can match. If not -- well, just ask my wife. Posted Image

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#19 of 46 OFFLINE   TheBat

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Posted May 12 2004 - 04:55 AM

the problem with the wyatt earp movie was that it was disjointed. I like silverado and open range much better. I also liked tombstone better as a movie on wyatt earp.

I don't think wyatt earp is a good blind movie to buy. I would rent it first.

JACOB

#20 of 46 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted May 12 2004 - 04:56 AM

Quote:
Maybe with more time and "perspective", Kasdan came to prefer his theatrical cut. Or maybe he's been reading the HTF and noted the howls of protest every time the original theatrical version of a film isn't provided.

Thank you Michael; that's set my mind at rest at least.

---
So many films, so little time...
So many films, so little time...
Film Journal Blog
Lt. Col. Thursday: Beaufort; no preliminary nonsense with him, no ceremonial phrasing. Straight from the shoulder as I tell you, do you hear me? They're recalcitrant swine and they must feel it...



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