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Blu-ray Reviews

Badlands Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 06 2013 - 10:02 AM

Terrence Malick burst onto the scene with 1973’s Badlands, and America’s cinematic poet was born. It’s a strange, quirky drama; even with its multiple murders, there’s a strange sort of “calm before the storm” tone to the work, and its lulling mixture of plaintive narration, evocative imagery, and eccentric characters makes it a one-of-a-kind movie. Like all of Malick’s work actually: no other films weave quite the kind of spell his films do.







Badlands (Blu-ray)
Directed by Terrence Malick

Studio: Criterion
Year: 1973
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: PCM 1.0 English
Subtitles: SDH


Region: A
MSRP: $ 39.95



Release Date: March 19, 2013

Review Date: March 6, 2013




The Film

4.5/5


Garbage man Kit (Martin Sheen) falls in love at first sight with fifteen-year old Holly (Sissy Spacek), but there is otherwise nothing for him in the small South Dakota town where they live. So, Kit decides he and Holly will go on an adventure living life freely and going wherever their stolen vehicles will take them. He has to get rid of Holly’s objecting father (Warren Oates) first, but afterwards until the couple is eventually caught in Montana, it’s a spree of living in the wild, in the homes of a friend (Ramon Bieri), a rich man (John Carter), or out of the car with a trail of bodies left behind.


Terrence Malick based his script on the story of Nebraska mass murderer Charles Starkweather, but you’ll hunt long and hard to find a more unconventional killer than Martin Sheen’s Kit. He’s the kind of man who’ll apologize to you after he shoots you in the back or makes small talk with you before pulling the trigger and with not the least show of concern (or remorse) in the process and at the same time convinced of his own celebrity. He’s more concerned about providing entertainment and interesting changes of venue for the teenaged Holly who bores rather easily. She’s as indifferent about the murders Kit is perpetrating as he is and seems eager for this unplanned fling to end a few days after they’re into it. Malick’s signature voiceover narration spoken by Holly is as laconic as it would be in the later Days of Heaven, and the imagery paired with the audio is always soulful, thoughtful, and hypnotic especially when shots happen in counterpoint to what’s being said. A raging fire in the film is one of the most beautiful blazes in screen history, and Malick takes the time to shoot vast expanses of the Great Plains not only for their lyrical beauty but for their lonely desolation as well matching the tone of the film’s second half as the couple begins to run out of time.


There have been disarming murderers portrayed on film from the beginning of the cinema, but Martin Sheen’s drawling Kit who talks to victims after he shoots them (or doesn’t; his unpredictable behavior is part of his allure), builds a mini-shrine to mark the spot of his arrest, or strikes up friendships with the officers who arrest him is one of his greatest creations. The young Sissy Spacek exudes a nonchalant youthful ebullience that makes it easy to understand why Sheen’s Kit would be drawn to her. Ramon Bieri as Kit’s friend and co-worker Cato has a tragic cheeriness that makes his end so heartbreaking. Warren Oates has a good couple of scenes as Holly’s strict father while John Carter and Alan Vint make firm impressions in their small roles as a rich victim and a friendly deputy.



Video Quality

4/5


The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Image sharpness is rather erratic with long shots occasionally not having the depth or expected detail one anticipates with high definition transfers. Medium and close shots fare much better and are quite detailed. Color resolution is very good throughout while flesh tones are natural and appealing. Black levels can be excellent with very good details conveyed in the shadows. The film has been divided into 13 chapters.



Audio Quality

4/5


The PCM 1.0 (1.1 Mbps) sound mix is exactly as one would expect for a low budget movie from this era. Dialogue, sound effects, and the use of music, both original music by George Tipton and standards from the likes of Nat King Cole, combine flavorfully into the single track with dialogue never being overshadowed by the other elements. There may be a bit of soft hiss early on, but it’s never a distraction.



Special Features

4.5/5


Unless otherwise noted, the featurettes are in 1080p.


“Making Badlands is a 2012 series of interview with stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek and her husband and the film’s art director Jack Fisk recalling the making of the movie. The stars discuss their casting in those early stages of their film careers, and Fisk discusses working so closely with Malick to get the film they wanted to make. The low budget is discussed and an on-set accident during the fire sequence is also mentioned. This runs 41 ½ minutes.


An interview with producer Edward Pressman finds the producer mainly discussing the touchy financing for the movie and his earnest desire to support Malick on his first film though others on the crew with more experience doubted what he was doing. This lasts 12 ½ minutes.


An interview with film editor Billy Weber discusses fitting the pieces of Malick’s puzzle together including the use of voiceover, the use of montage, the placement of music, and the Malick-scribed dialogue which was often cut because of wordiness. This runs 21 ¾ minutes.


A 1993 episode of American Justice focuses on the killing spree (ten people over eight days) of Charles Starkweather and Carol Ann Fugate whose story served as inspiration for Malick’s script. This runs 20 ¾ minutes in 1080i.


The theatrical trailer runs 3 minutes.


The enclosed 22-page booklet contains cast and crew lists, a number of color stills from the film, and filmmaker Michael Almereyda’s celebratory essay on the movie.


The Criterion Blu-rays include a maneuvering tool called “Timeline” which can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc and the title of the chapter you’re now in. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.



In Conclusion

4.5/5 (not an average)


Unique, often hypnotic, quietly penetrating: this can describe almost any film by Terrence Malick, but the one in question in this first-rate Criterion release is Badlands, the filmmaker’s first feature film. Very good audio and video transfers and quality bonuses enhance this truly one-of-a-kind movie. Highly recommended!




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 7 ONLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted March 06 2013 - 04:12 PM

Matt I hate to be the one to ask but, since this was licensed thru WB and has said logo on back cover art, does the film open with a WB logo at all.
(I've never seen the film so not sure if a WB logo preceded the film in it's original theatrical release) If it does have a logo which logo is it. Please say it isn't the new CGI one?

Stop the Replacing of original Studio Opening / Closing logos! They are part of film history.

Marantz SR7007 MartinLogan: ESL, Grotto i, Motif, FX2, Motion 15
Oppo BDP-103 Region Free Pioneer LD CLD-D505
Panasonic 65" TC-P65ZT60

 


#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted March 07 2013 - 12:09 AM

Yes, it opens with the Warner logo that appears to be your avatar.



#4 of 7 ONLINE   Powell&Pressburger

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Posted March 07 2013 - 12:38 AM

Originally Posted by MattH. 

Yes, it opens with the Warner logo that appears to be your avatar.

OMG! Are you kidding me! I love the BLU already!


Stop the Replacing of original Studio Opening / Closing logos! They are part of film history.

Marantz SR7007 MartinLogan: ESL, Grotto i, Motif, FX2, Motion 15
Oppo BDP-103 Region Free Pioneer LD CLD-D505
Panasonic 65" TC-P65ZT60

 


#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted March 07 2013 - 04:08 AM

Thanks for the review! I had this one pre-order the day it popped up on Amazon.ca for under $30. A rare thing in the great white north. Can't wait to revisit this one now that I'm more familiar with Malick's work.



#6 of 7 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted March 09 2013 - 07:13 AM

One of my desert island films.  Can't wait to get this!



#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Duane Alford

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Posted July 30 2014 - 11:14 PM

"Carol Ann Fugate" is actually Caril Ann Fugate. She and Martin Sheen actually became friends. Terrance Mailck, Sheen, Caril, and her attorney James McArthur had actually screened the movie before it's release. When Caril was paroled, she broke off her friendship with Sheen as she wanted to leave Nebraska and start her life over. Starkweather had initally been buried in an unmarked grave until a stranger from Tennessee bought a marker in December 1970. Supposedly that marker was vandalized in the 80's and Sheen paid for the one that is there now. Apparantly Sheen likes Lincoln as I've read he visits there ever few years. My fascination with the case? Just so happens that Starkweather got himself executed on my birthday! :angry:







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