Goodfellas (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Tim Salmons
  • Review Date: Apr 15, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Goodfellas (4K UHD Review)

Director

Martin Scorsese

Release Date(s)

1990 (December 6, 2016)

Studio(s)

Warner Bros. (Warner Home Video)
  • Film/Program Grade: A+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: B+
  • Extras Grade: C+

Goodfellas (Blu-ray Disc)

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Review

It’s difficult to measure the long-term influence that Goodfellas has had on everything in its wake. It’s essentially perfect from top to bottom, outclassing nearly every story of its type, and breaking every rule in the book along the way. From pacing to performances to story, it’s one of the most imminently rewatchable films ever made. It traces the journey of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), a man whose ambition is to join the world of New York mobsters under the watchful eye of Pauly (Paul Sorvino), the head of the organization. He befriends Jimmy (Robert De Niro), a cool but calculating criminal; Tommy (Joe Pesci), a hot-headed but loyal friend to them both; and Karen (Lorraine Bracco), a strong woman whom he eventually marries and brings into his way of life.

Even in a world where TV shows like The Sopranos exist, not to mention Scorsese’s own further reflections on the mob world in The Departed and The Irishman, Goodfellas still feels fresh. Nothing about it is old hat and it’s still a riveting piece of cinema. The veracity of the dialogue, the quick dolly-in and dolly-out shots, the one take steadicam moments, the drug-fueled velocity of the latter half, and the use of realistic but consequential violence—there’s nothing about it that’s out of date. Many scenes, including Tommy’s infamous altercation in mid-conversation with Henry, the Layla-scored corpse discovery sequence, Henry’s and Karen’s entrance into the Copacabana, and the discovery of Billy Batts’ bloody body in the trunk of Henry’s car, have all become embedded in popular culture. So much so that many things are often overlooked, including Lorraine Bracco’s performance as a mother and a wife who will go to the ends of the Earth for her husband, even if she knows it’s the wrong thing to do. There’s also Paul Sorvino’s quiet but intense portrayal of Pauly, who has very little dialogue, but his presence looms large over everything. Even they don’t get enough credit in a film filled with so much perfection. Quite simply, Goodfellas is a masterpiece, one of many in the arsenal of our greatest living director: Martin Scorsese.

Goodfellas was shot on Eastman 35mm film using Arriflex 35 BL4S cameras and Zeiss Super Speed spherical lenses in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The Ultra HD is sourced from a 4K scan of the original camera negative (also used for the previous 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release) with a new grade for high dynamic range (with HDR10 available as well). It’s not a huge leap over its 1080p counterpart, but there are minor enhancements in a couple of areas. The film retains its organic look, with relatively tight grain levels and an increase in clarity. Detail is improved, particularly in the darker areas of the frame, and added nuance can be found in the colors, finer textures of clothing and automobiles, and foreground and background depth (particularly in the smoky, multi-layered environment of the Copacabana). Skin tones are more natural, and blacks are only a tad bit deeper. The overt shades of red during the burial and recovery of Billy Batts’ body are more extreme and, to my eyes, more effective. The image is also quite stable and clean, with nary a speck of damage to be found.

The main audio is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD with optional subtitles in English SDH. The film offers a wide range of sonic textures, from the bustling activity of a busy nightclub with people speaking over each other to quiet conversations with just two people. It’s not a soundtrack that’s showy, instead opting more for realism, punctuated by occasional splashes of gunfire and explosions. Dialogue exchanges are precise, though not always one hundred percent clear. Sound effects—such as Billy Batts rolling around in the trunk of Henry’s car, or the ambience of a local diner—are well staged in the mix. The film’s era-authentic music fills out each channel without overpowering the other elements. Panoramic activity is limited to passing cars and carefully-placed sound effects and dialogue, as well as the Saul Bass opening credits sequence. Other audio and subtitle options include Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Polish, Dutch, Czech, Swedish, Russian, and more.

This release also includes two Blu-rays from the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray release. One featuring the film in 1080p, and the other containing a set of extras:

DISC ONE – 4K MOVIE

  • Audio Commentary with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Nicholas Pileggi, Michael Ballhaus, Frank Vincent, Thelma Schoonmaker, Barbara De Fina, and Henry Hill
  • Audio Commentary with Henry Hill and Ed McDonald

DISC TWO  BLU-RAY MOVIE

  • Audio Commentary with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Nicholas Pileggi, Michael Ballhaus, Frank Vincent, Thelma Schoonmaker, Barbara De Fina, and Henry Hill
  • Audio Commentary with Henry Hill and Ed McDonald

DISC THREE  BLU-RAY EXTRAS

  • Scorsese’s Goodfellas (HD – 29:54)
  • Getting Made: The Making of Goodfellas (SD – 29:39)
  • Made Men: The Goodfellas Legacy (SD – 13:35)
  • The Workaday Gangster (SD – 8:00)
  • Paper is Cheaper Than Film (SD – 4:30)
  • Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film (SD – 1:45:13)
  • I Like Mountain Music (SD – 7:02)
  • She Was an Acrobat’s Daughter (SD – 8:39)
  • Racketeer Rabbit (SD – 7:55)
  • Bugs and Thugs (SD – 7:14)
  • Theatrical Trailer (SD – 1:30)

The first audio commentary is basically a pastiche of interviews, but leaves great gaps of silence—at one point for nearly thirty minutes. However, the information given is quite good, even if the accompanying extras double up on it a bit. The second audio commentary featuring the real Henry Hill and prosecuting lawyer Ed McDonald is fascinating, as they recount the actual events as they happen, but in a surprisingly retrospective and lively manner. Scorsese’s Goodfellas features new interviews with Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco, Ray Liotta, Nicholas Pileggi, Thelma Schoonmaker, and others as they also retrospectively talk about the film. Getting Made utilizes vintage interviews with Scorsese, Pileggi, Liotta, De Niro, Pesci, Bracco, Frank Vincent, Paul Sorvino, and others who speak about the making of the film. Made Men features more vintage interviews with directors Frank Darabont, Antoine Fuqua, Richard Linklater, Jon Favreau, Joe Carnahan, and The Hughes Brothers as they discuss the film and their love for it. The Workaday Gangster interviews many of the same folks about the film’s accuracy. Paper is Cheaper Than Film compares the script notations made by Scorsese to the final film. Public Enemies is a feature-length documentary about the history of gangster films, featuring interviews with many authors and film historians. I Like Mountain Music, She Was an Acrobat’s Daughter, Racketeer Rabbit, and Bugs and Thugs are four classic gangster-related Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoon shorts. It’s also worth noting that within the package is a Digital Copy code on a paper insert, which has since expired.

Warner Bros has brought Goodfellas to UHD with a great transfer and a decent amount of extras, all of which have been carried over from previous releases, though the accompanying booklet and letter with Scorsese’s signature from the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray is notably absent. A few new things could have been added to spice things up, including the film’s marketing campaign, but as is, this is still a nice Ultra HD upgrade.

– Tim Salmons

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