Shawshank Redemption, The (Blu-ray Review)20 Jan, 2009 By: John Gaudiosi
Rated ‘R’ for language and prison violence.
Stars Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, Clancy Brown, William Sadler, James Whitmore.
This Blu-ray Disc is a great upgrade over Warner Home Video’s 2004 special-edition DVD.
The 1080p picture (1.85:1 aspect ratio) offers an unblemished view of the film’s prison setting, which itself comes in two shades, with early scenes rich with blues and the rest of the film in a warmer orange. This transfer is clearly the best this excellent film has ever received.
Warner has also upgraded the audio with an exclusive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround mix. Those familiar with the film know that this 1994 picture, aside from some prison violence, is not the type of film that’s going to push your surround-sound set-up. But this audio upgrade brings the film’s moving soundtrack to life and the dialogue is sharp.
Unfortunately, Warner did not bother to upgrade any of its standard-definition extras. As a result, the only exclusive content offered is the 30-page color booklet that comes as part of the DigiBook packaging. It’s nice, but it doesn’t offset watching the extras from the 2004 DVD in 480p.
A highlight of the recycled extras is an excellent director commentary from Frank Darabont that includes the fascinating story of adapting the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.
Fans of this film will already have the 2004 special edition, so these extras are already part of their collection. But the visual and audio upgrades to HD are excellent, which should entice many to get this BD. Anyone who didn’t buy the 2004 DVD now has a must-have Shawshank for their library.