Plot: What’s it about?
Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) are members of the most feared group of bandits in the West, the Wild Bunch. But in recent days, Cassidy has been replaced as the group’s leader and Harvey Logan now stands in and has a plan for the next heist. Cassidy refuses to yield power without a fight however and is able to best Harvey, so he reacquires power and prepares for not one, but two robberies. The group will rob the Union Pacific Flyer train on its first ever trip, then rob it once again on the return venture. The idea is that since no one will expect the same train to be robbed twice in a row, the second trip will have a much larger payoff on board. But when the plan falls apart and countless forces are hot on their trail, can Butch and Sundance find a way to escape this explosive situation?
If there is such a thing as a popcorn western, this is one. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid takes two well known historical figures, disregards the known record of both men, and just tries to knock out two hours of entertainment. In other words, this isn’t going to enlighten you about the real life events, as the filmmakers chose to go for fun over fact. I think we can all agree this isn’t what the Old West was like, but it is still a fun ride, to be sure. This larger than life tale throws us into some wild times, as the bandits engage in shootouts, romances, and all stops in between. Paul Newman and Robert Redford are ideal for these roles and their performances add so much. As fun as the movie is, this Blu-ray disc is a disappointment. The transfer is lackluster and half the supplements are absent, so only diehard fans will want to upgrade this one.
Video: How does it look?
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This hands down one of the most disappointing transfers I’ve seen on a high definition release. The source is soft, worn, and washed out, which handicaps the entire visual presentation. This is such a beloved picture, you’d think Fox would invest in a restoration and one is needed, as the print is not up to snuff. The visuals sport poor depth and very little improvement in terms of detail, which colors appear faded and contrast is not where it should be. This isn’t the worst transfer I’ve ever seen, but Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid deserves better and fans are sure to be let down.
Audio: How does it sound?
This release includes a lossless DTS HD 5.1 option, but its hard to tell this is even a surround sound experience. A few minor instances of surround presence do crop up, but by and large, the audio never leaves the front channels. When there is rear channel presence, it is minor and fleeting at best. To be fair, the audio sounds fine, but given the potential of the soundtrack, I was a little let down. This sounds like a mono soundtrack with a handful of lively moments, but at least the elements haven’t been degraded by the tolls of time. This disc also includes a mono option, Spanish and French language tracks, and subtitles in English, Spanish, Korean, and Cantonese.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Not all of the extras from the Special Edition DVD release have returned, but most of the substantial goodies have been ported over. A pair of audio commentaries have been included, the first a solo track with screenwriter William Goldman and the second with director George Roy Hill, lyricist Hal David, filmmaker Robert Crawford, Jr., and cinematographer Conrad Hall. Goldman’s session is rather dull to be honest, but the group track has some worthwhile moments. The track isn’t fluid, as the participants were recorded on their own, but the session still provides some good information. All of What Follows is True is a thirty-six minute look back on the shoot and the film’s lasting legacy. Not as in depth as I’d like, but some solid interviews with most of the prominent players makes this worth a look for fans. Another featurette compares & contrasts the movie’s bandits with their real life counterparts, while other extras include a deleted scene and three of the film’s theatrical trailers.