Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece, Taxi Driver, finally arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray in Sony’s 6-movie Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol 2.
The Production: 4.5/5
I have always found Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver a difficult film to watch. It is a dark, gritty character study of Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro), a lonely and socially inept US Marines veteran with underlying mental health issues. Suffering from insomnia, he takes a job as a taxi driver, mostly working nights getting everyone from politicians, the social elite, and lowlifes around New York City. The movie is seen through Travis’ eyes, as he encounters disappointment, disillusionment, and isolation in the seedy parts of the Big Apple, eventually taking matters into his own hands. All of the major performances in the film are rock solid, DeNiro’s career-defining role as Travis, Cybill Shepherd as Betsy the campaign worker who is ultimately repulsed by Travis, Albert Brooks as Betsy’s over-protective co-worker, Jodie Foster as the teenage runaway and prostitute Iris, Harvey Keitel as Iris’ pimp, Leonard Harris as Presidential candidate Charles Palantine, and Peter Boyle as Wizard the “wise” cab driver. The film solidified an ongoing partnership between Scorsese, DeNiro, and screenwriter Paul Schrader. For a more detailed analysis of the film, check out Richard Gallagher’s review of Sony’s 2011 Blu-ray release.
3D Rating: NA
Taxi Driver is perhaps the oldest of the 4K scans in Sony’s 6-film Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 2. The original camera negative was scanned in 4K back in 2010 for its 35th Anniversary screening at the Berlin Film Festival on 2011, and that transfer was later released in 2013 as part of the studio’s “Mastered in 4K” series of Blu-rays (that disc has been included in this set), and has been available in 4K digitally for many years. For its UHD physical media debut, Grover Crisp’s team at Sony took that 4K master and added high dynamic range in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, improving the contrast and deepening the level of shadow detail in the dark streets of New York. Colors are more vibrant without appearing overly saturated, giving the picture a real pop without sacrificing the darker undertones of the story.
This is the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 track included on previous Blu-ray releases, a track that was originally mono in its 1976 theatrical release, remixed in stereo in 1995 after locating the original 4-track stereo recordings of Bernard Herrmann’s score, and then remixed again in 5.1 for the 35th Anniversary release in 2011. This is a front-heavy presentation (due to its mono roots), with dialogue emanating mostly from the center channel, with Bernard Herrmann’s score spread across the front soundstage and extended to the surrounds. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.
Special Features: 5/5
Sony has included all of the special features from the 40th Anniversary Blu-ray release in 2016, moving all of the content from the bonus disc to the UHD disc or this release. Unfortunately, the audio commentaries are only accessible on the Blu-ray edition.
Making “Taxi Driver” (upscaled 1080p; 70:55)
Intro to Storyboards by Martin Scorsese (1080p; 4:32)
Storyboard to Film Comparison (1080p; 8:21)
Photo Galleries (1080p; 9:27)
**NEW** 20th Anniversary Re-Release Trailer (1080p; 1:28)
Original 1986 Criterion Collection Audio Commentary with Director Martin Scorsese and Writer Paul Schrader
Audio Commentary with Professor Robert Kolker
Audio Commentary with Writer Paul Schrader
Tribeca Film Festival 40th Anniversary Q&A (1080p; 41:56)
Producing “Taxi Driver” (1080i; 9:53)
God’s Lonely Man (1080i; 21:42)
Influence and Appreciation: A Martin Scorsese Tribute (1080i; 18:30)
Taxi Driver Stories (1080i; 22:22)
Martin Scorsese on “Taxi Driver” (1080i; 16:54)
Travis’ New York (1080i; 6:15)
Travis’ New York Locations (1080i; 4:45)
Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 3:10)
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere. At the time of this review, my code redeemed on Movies Anywhere, Vudu, and Prime Video in 4K (no HDR) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio; Apple TV/iTunes in 4K with HDR10/Dolby Vision and Dolby 5.1 audio.
Although available digitally in 4K for a few years, the use of HDR takes Taxi Driver up another notch in visual perfection in its first release on UHD physical media.
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