A Perfect World

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I have always thought of Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World as a "follow up" movie. Now bear with me, I’m about to explain. The stars of the film, Eastwood, Costner and Laura Dern had just come off three very successful movies. Costner had just had success with JFK and The Bodyguard, while Eastwood directed Unforgiven to Best Picture (and a Best Director Oscar for himself) and Laura Dern was in some little movie about dinosaurs. Call it intuition if you will, but it seems that Hollywood has a way of picking some actors to work in certain films at just the right time. Such is the case with this film and though it didn’t do as well as expected at the box office, it became an instant favorite for me. The pace is slow and methodical, though it certainly has some action sequences. Like Unforgiven, it too has a pursuer and the pursued. While Kevin Costner plays a rare "villain" we somehow end up rooting for him as he’s not as bad as everyone thinks he is.

Butch Haynes (Kevin Costner) has just escaped from prison, seeking shelter and some fresh food and clothes, he comes across a woman’s house. Taking her son hostage (T.J. Lowther), Butch and his cohort take off through the panhandle of West Texas. We immediately assume that Butch is a rough, hardened criminal. He is. But there’s a difference between Butch and his friend, Butch does what he does because he needs to do it to survive. His friend does it because he enjoys it. Soon enough, Texas Ranger Red Garnett (Clint Eastwood) is on the trail of Haynes and we learn that they have crossed paths before. Together with a Criminologist (Laura Dern), the chase begins. It’s a long-standing "rule" in Hollywood that you’re not supposed to work with children or animals…well one of the stars of the film is a child (in his debut, no less) and I felt he did a wonderful job. I initially felt sorry for him because he displays a very real innocence on the screen, but throughout the course of the film we see that he’s a lot stronger than originally thought.

The movie might not be for everyone, but for those who are fans of Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood, I couldn’t recommend it more. Coster plays his antagonist with a mood that I’ve not seen before. Of course this was some ten years ago and he hadn’t really tasted a lot of defeat then, the role might be a bit different now. While the film is more of a cat and mouse game (where Eastwood and Dern are constantly one step behind the men), the ultimate confrontation is something that stuck with me for a long time. I’ll go ahead and say it outright, this is one of the movies that even brought me to tears at the end. Naturally I won’t say how so, but yes…it’s that good.

Video: How does it look?

Eastwood films most of his movies in the wider, 2.35:1 ratio and this is no exception. Even the cover art gives the impression that its a wide open, somewhat bleak movie. However, this couldn’t be more wrong. From the opening scenes, there are beautiful scenes that cover the West Texas countryside and the green grass that is so prevalent looks stunning (yes, grass looks stunning). While there are a few faults here and there, mainly a slight bit of edge enhancement, the overall quality of the transfer is very good. The movie, nearly ten years old, looks just as good as when I first saw it and viewers should worry not, this looks pretty darn good.

Audio: How does it sound?

Sporting a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, A Perfect World sounds as good as it ever has. The mix has been re-mastered from the original master, but then again, this movie wasn’t ever that strong when it came to audio. Eastwood directs and he seems to have a real sense of how the scene is taking place and the sound associated with it. Dialogue is very clean, free of any distortion that might be plaguing the mix. Surround effects, though few and far between, are present especially during some of the action sequences. While not the greatest mix, its certainly not the worst and should leave audiences satisfied.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Only the trailer and some brief cast bios are included.

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