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Silverado (Blu-ray)

When the Wild West was fun

Disc Specs

Starring Scott GlennKevin KlineKevin CostnerDanny Glover Disc Cover
Directed By Lawrence Kasdan Certificate PG
Audio Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Visuals 2.35:1 Widescreen
Running Time 132 mins
UK Release Date September 14, 2009
Genre Action, Drama, Western
Our Rating
User Rating

I was quite worried when Silverado first started playing on my Blu-ray player. For about the first five minutes the picture is surprisingly ropy, with lots of grain and the wonderful early shot where Scott Glenn leaves his cabin and the camera moves from the cramped interiors to the wide open Wild West is depressingly speckled. Thankfully about 10-minutes in, things start to improve considerably and it suddenly becomes the transfer you’d hope for.  (This seems to be a fairly common problem with HD transfers of movies more than 10 years old, where the opening looks a lot worse than the rest of the film does, although I’m not sure why).

Although there’s occasional grain, for the most part the massive vistas and grand-scale western action looks wonderful and really serves to show what a fine looking movie this is. Indeed few post-1970s westerns have managed to look quite as good as Silverado, or tell as entertaining a story.

The first hour and a half of Silverado is really just one giant set-up. It gradually introduces us to all the players, as Emmett (Scott Glenn) makes his way to Silverado, rescuing Paden (Kevin Kline) from dying in the wilderness, as well as helping to spring his high-spirited kid brother (Kevin Costner) from jail. They also meet Malachi Johnson (Danny Glover) and together help a group of homesteaders reach the town of Silverado.

What all this mostly does is to introduce us to the players and politics of the film’s Wild West, where those looking to civilise the land are met with violent opposition from those who’d prefer to rule the wilds by force and intimidation, including a ruthless cattleman and a corrupt sheriff. It all leads up to a big showdown, where the good guys face down the villainous forces, standing up for what is right and using their guns to settle the score.

Silverado is a favourite on film studies courses as it’s a movie that really knows both its cinema and actual history, revelling in how film has set up the myth of the Wild West. Admittedly compared to many, grittier modern westerns, it may seem a bit hokey, but that’s because this is as much a film about all the westerns that have come before, particularly the classics like Shane and High Noon, as it is a fun film in its own right. If you’ve only seen dreary and somewhat pessimistic modern westerns, watch this and see how fun they once were.

As mentioned, despite a dodgy opening 10 minutes, it looks very good on Blu-ray, and the Dolby Digital TrueHD soundtrack also does a pretty good job. On the special features front, everything’s been ported over from the Collector’s Edition DVD. So while it’s all very interesting, there’s nothing new, except access to BD-Live. I always find it kind of fascinating listening to Kevin Costner, and the reason why is very evident from the interview included here. He has an amazing way of sounding humble, while simultaneous being incredibly poncy and arrogant. It’s an impressive ability that’s always worth a look, and thankfully here he also has some interesting things to say about the making of Silverado. There’s also a fascinating ‘Making Of Silverado’ featurette and a commentary featuring western historians.

While you will have all of those features if you own the DVD, there’s no doubt that Silverado has had a pretty successful upgrade to Blu-ray – except for those dodgy first 10 minutes of the movie.

Overall Verdict: It may start out looking slightly rubbish in HD, but the Silverado Blu-ray soon starts to look as good as such a beautifully made and entertaining western should. Yee-haw.

Special Features:
‘Along With Silverado Trail’ A Western Historians’ Commentary
‘A Return To Silverado With Kevin Costner’ Featurette
‘The Making Of Silverado’ Featurette
BD-Live

Reviewer: Tim Isaac

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