Nearly one year after its Blu-ray debut, Lionsgate’s 15th Anniversary double dip of Good Will Hunting arrives with the same transfer plus a few new special features in addition to those included on the previous release, minus the digital copy.
US DVD Release Date: August 21, 2012
Original Release Year: 1997
Rated: R (for strong language, including some sex-related dialogue)
Running Time: 126 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English, German), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French)
Subtitles: English (SDH), English, Spanish, French, German
Movie: 4 out of 5
Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is a janitor at MIT in Boston, a blue-collar savant who finds himself solving highly advanced mathematical equations posted in the hallway by Professor Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgård) for his class as extra credit. Will, who was orphaned at a young age and raised in abusive foster family relationships, has anger, attachment, and abandonment issues that cause him to lash out in violence. When Will attacks a police officer during an altercation with his buddies on a playground, a judge sentences him to probation until his 21st birthday which includes mentoring by Lambeau and counseling by Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). Will eventually begins to open up and overcome many of his issues, falls in love with Harvard Pre-Med student Skylar (Minnie Driver, in an Oscar-nominated performance), and starts to take chances by leaving his lifetime home of South Boston to find a better life for himself.
Although Good Will Hunting is best-known as the film that made stars out of Damon and Affleck (and won them Oscars for their first screenplay), this is really Matt Damon’s movie. This is Will’s journey, and Damon appears on-screen more than any other actor in the film. Director Gus Van Sant manages to keep Robin Williams fairly well-restrained (not an easy task), with no real manic rants that were typical of his movie roles at this stage in his career and ad-libbed lines that fit his character, and I think that is what really intrigued the Motion Picture Academy to award Williams the Oscar that year for his performance (plus the legendary Weinstein Oscar Campaigns of the late 90s). Ben Affleck turns in a worthy performance as Will’s best friend (and likely foster brother) Chuckie. The scene when Chuckie tells Will that if Will is still living in South Boston and hanging out and working with the same crowd twenty years from now, he’d kill him for wasting his (Will’s) time and talent has a real sense of truth to it. The one major weakness in the script is Skylar, played wonderfully by Minnie Driver, but the character felt underwritten, and her acceptance of Will’s lying about his past was a bit too plot contrived.
Video: 4 out of 5
Lionsgate’s AVC-encoded 1080p 24Hz transfer, approximating the film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio, is a very faithful representation of how I remember the film looked during its theatrical run, capturing the Northeastern glow of Jean-Yves Escoffier’s cinematography. Colors are a bit subdued, but, again, that’s how I remember the film looking back in 1998 when I saw it at the Edwards Irvine Spectrum. Film grain is noticeable but never distracting, and detail is quite good, with deep, non-crushing, blacks.
Audio: 4 out of 5
Good Will Hunting is a dialogue-driven film, and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack delivers exactly what you would expect. Dialogue is mostly centered, and is clear and intelligible. Danny Elfman’s score as well as many of the songs that appear in the film are spread out nicely over the 5 channels. Ambient and atmospheric effects also utilize the surround and LFE tracks in a subtle but effective manner.
Special Features: 4.5 out of 5
The disc starts out with the following skippable trailers (but not with the Top Menu button) in 1080p:
Shakespeare In Love
The English Patient
Lionsgate’s 15th Anniversary Blu-ray release ports over most of the special features from the 2011 Blu-ray release, all in 480p, along with two new features in 1080p.
Reflecting on a Journey: Good Will Hunting 15 Years Later (HD; 1:02:14): New to this edition, this excellent retrospective includes interviews with Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Robin Williams, Gus Van Sant, Chris Moore, and Kevin Smith as they discuss developing the film first at Castle Rock, how Miramax picked up the project in turn-around, the various directors that were attached to the film, how Gus Van Sant works, and how the movie changed their lives.
Matt Damon Remembers Good Will Hunting (HD; 16:46): The other new featurette has Matt Damon reminiscing about the film, covering much of the same material from the hour-long retrospective.
Audio Commentary With Director Gus Van Sant, Matt Damon, and Ben Affleck: The three discuss how the screenplay evolved, how it wound up at Miramax, how Gus Van Sant became involved, and other tidbits on the making of the film.
Deleted Scenes (SD; 20:38): A total of 11 deleted or extended scenes are included, cut mostly for time, and can be viewed with or without commentary.
Production Featurette (SD; 6:39): Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, and Gus Van Sant briefly discuss the movie interspersed with clips from the movie and behind the scenes footage in this vintage EPK featurette.
Theatrical Trailer (SD; 2:31): The original trailer is presented in an unmatted 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
Academy Awards Best Picture Montage (SD: 0:44)
Miss Misery Music Video (SD; 3:17): A rather strange music video for the main track off the film’s soundtrack album.
Behind The Scenes (SD; 3:36): Nothing more than a montage of behind the scenes footage.
Bookmarks: I’m not sure why Lionsgate continues to think bookmarks are a special feature when most studios categorize them either under Scene Selection or as their own category.
Overall: 4 out of 5
If you picked up the previous Blu-ray release from last year, you have to ask yourself just how much you want the new bonus features included in this edition (which are quite extraordinary). If you haven’t purchased Good Will Hunting, then this is definitely the version to get.