Plot: What’s it about?
A group known as the Santa Fe Ring has been causing all kinds of problems for ranchers, to the point that many of them are hiring extra guns to protect their land. One such rancher is John Tunstall (Terence Stamp), who brings in six hired guns to help keep his land safe, but these aren’t polished regulators. No, these are six of the wildest, rowdiest fellows around, but they know how to handle their guns and don’t hesitate to use them. Which is good, because when the Santa Fe Ring springs an ambush and Tunstall is killed, they decide to take justice in their own hands. At the lead is Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez), a young man with a sharp temper and an itchy trigger finger. Billy and the others head off to settle the score with the Santa Fe Ring, but this won’t be a simple task and soon enough, bloodshed ensues. They get the attention of the Santa Fe Ring and soon they’re in a full scale battle, one that has them branded as outlaws. With both the Santa Fe Ring and the authorities hot on their trail, can these young guns manage to shoot their way to freedom?
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if MTV Films produced a western, then you’ve never seen Young Guns, an Old West tale that caters to the teen crowd. The cast was impressive by 1988 standards, with Emilio Estevez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, and Kiefer Sutherland all on deck, not to mention Terence Stamp and Jack Palance. While those last two names could be right at home in the rugged days of gunslingers, most of the others stand out like sore thumbs. I could never really get into Young Guns because of that, as most of these guys simply aren’t believable as rough and tumble gunfighters. And since the film focused on those performers, Young Guns just never clicks into place. The performances are decent, but most of the prominent roles were miscast and that dooms this movie. I was pleased to see so much violence on showcase, as I love gunfights, but with no reason to care who lives or dies, it seems like a minor distraction. But if you don’t need realism and just want some mindless entertainment, then I can see why you might like Young Guns. But sadly, this Blu-ray release just doesn’t live up to the high definition hype, thanks a mediocre transfer and minimal supplements. If you love the movie and already own the Special Edition, I doubt an upgrade could be justified, this release just isn’t that good.
Video: How does it look?
Young Guns is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer was a total disappointment and ranks as one of the least impressive high definition treatments I’ve seen. The movie isn’t that old, so it should look refined and show immense detail, but that isn’t the case. At times, detail is so soft, you’ll think you’re watching DVD and to me, that is inexcusable. The print looks clean, with few instances of debris and while grain is present at times, its never that much of a distraction. This is just a very soft image that has little depth, a real let down. At least colors look good, though flesh tones don’t always prove accurate and black levels can be shaky from time to time. I think we have to expect significant upgrades from these high definition releases and in this case, any enhancements are quite minimal.
Audio: How does it sound?
The soundtrack fares better than the transfer, thanks to an active DTS HD option. This is a movie about gunfighters, so that means gunfights and gunfights have great potential for audio presence. As expected, those scenes have a good amount of power and add a lot to the experience. This movie isn’t loaded with those type of action sequences, but it has a few and they all sound good, as well they should. I do think the audio here, especially in those more active scenes, comes off as less than natural, so the sound design could have been tweaked a little. The dialogue comes across well, as do the less impact driven elements. All in all, a solid track that covers the bases well enough. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes a half hour featurette on the real life Billy the Kid, as well as a trivia track. A lot of other supplements are out there, from previous standard releases, but this is all we’ve been given. Lions Gate dropped the ball here, as more extras could have enticed some viewers to overlook the mediocre transfer. I think if studios want consumers to get behind Blu-ray, they need make sure there is no reason to hold onto those old DVDs.