Unforgiven UltraHD Blu-ray Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Summary: Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman play retired, down-on-their-luck outlaws who pick up their guns one last time to collect a bounty offered by the vengeful prostitutes of the remote Wyoming town of Big Whiskey.
Richard Harris is an ill-fated interloper, a colorful killer-for-hire called English Bob. And “Best Supporting Actor” Oscar winner Gene Hackman is the sly and brutal local sheriff whose brand of law enforcement ranges from unconventional to ruthless.
Movie Review: Unforgiven won the Academy Award for Best Picture when it was released, and 25 years later the film has held up well. After a woman is brutally attacked in the brothel, Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) only fines the men that did it. Unhappy with this resolution, the women pool their money together and offer $1,000 for anyone that kills the two men that did it. Bill Munny (Clint Eastwood) is a widower with two young kids who has given up the outlaw life, but with his farm failing is pulled back into it to try to survive.
As Bill Munny, his old partner Ned, and The Schofield Kid work together to help redeem the injured woman, you see the impact that reflection on their past life has done to Bill and Ned. No longer are they unencumbered by guilt and remorse, but instead they are almost unable to go back to their old life. Unforgiven moves carefully along, giving more insight into the characters and why they do what they do, never rushing. It is a wonderful western, and well worth watching.
Technical Review: Unforgiven was shot on 35mm and given a new 4K transfer by Warner Brothers for the 25th Anniversary release on UHD. Image-wise, this transfer is a very mixed bag. The very opening shot does a good job showing the potential issues. There is lots of noise in the sky and the image is not overly sharp. The main flaws with Unforgiven are that the image is just continually inconsistent. Shadow details fluctuate between the Blu-ray and the UHD disc. Sometimes the UHD version will be too dark and wipe out shadow details while other scenes show far more than the Blu-ray does.
Color timing is inconsistent as well. Often the Blu-ray is more saturated and occasionally overblown, with reddish skin tones, while the UHD is more subtle and nuanced. Other times the UHD version will show more lush colors than the Blu-ray does. If they were adjusting this on a scene-by-scene basis, it didn’t remain consistent through the film. HDR is really only used for some fires and torches during the movie and not much else.
Fine details are more present sometimes on UHD, but not always. If you get a shot of Eastwood without a hat on, hairs from his head and blurry and indistinct instead of clear. There are also some shots that feature edge enhancement that wasn’t on the previous Blu-ray release. It’s on both the Blu-ray and the UHD disc, so it’s from the new master, and it’s the more egregious edge enhancement I’ve seen to date on any disc. Overall Unforgiven on UHD is a complete mixed bag.
The soundtrack, for the most part, is very good. The lossless soundtrack does a good job with creating an atmosphere of a saloon or a rainstorm, and the sounds of bullets whizzing by your ears sound great. There are a couple of scenes where the level of the center channel changes during conversations, going from normal to quiet and back again, that does detract from the overall quality.
Special Features: Commentary, four featurettes, an episode of Maverick, and the trailer.
Fantastic film that gets a UHD release, improved soundtrack, more accurate color in cases.
Very inconsistent image quality on the transfer, horrible edge enhancement in at least one scene.
This might be the best that Unforgiven has looked at home, but the UHD transfer is inconsistent and seems as though it could be so much better to match the film.