The Green Mile

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

While comparisions are bound to come up between this and it’s “sister” flick, The Shawshank Redemption, they really couldn’t be more different. While Stephen King, author of both of the original novels that the two were based on, set both of them in prisions during the same time period…that’s about all that is the same. While Shawshank is really the focus of the triumph of the human spirit, The Green Mile is more of a story of the supernatural. Frank Darabount, who directed both Shawshank and The Green Mile also adapated the novel for the screen this time. Though the casting is stellar, make no mistake…this is a Tom Hanks movie and that’s not a bad thing either, as he is probably the finest actor working these days (and there’s a lot of tough competition out there)!

The Green Mile starts out in present day, much like Saving Private Ryan. We see an old man in a nursing home, a whole group just sitting watching TV. Is is me, or every time that we want to show the downfall of our present lives, we show “Jerry Springer” on TV? Makes sense I guess…We meet who we later find out is an much older version of Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) who takes a friend aside and explains to her why he suddenly burst into tears when a particular Fred Astaire movie was shown. It’s then that we’re taken back to 1935, and Paul is the head guard on “The Green Mile”. The Green Mile is what is called the “last” mile at prisions, meaning death row. It just so happens that at this particular prision, they call it “The Green Mile”…so there you have it. We’re introduced to the other guards, including great character actor David Morse and a snotty little guard by the name of Percy, who only has his job because of certain family connections (and isn’t afraid to name drop whenever he feels like it). John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is now the focus of our concentration, and how could he not be with his massive size! A very soft-spoken, simple yet naive man who we find out has a supernatural gift.

Among the rest of the cast is Bonnie Hunt who plays Hanks’ wife, James Cromwell as the prision supervisior and a very underused Gary Sinise as the prosecuting attorney. Now this is the part that bugged me, Graham Green also plays one of the prision inmates on the mile who is put to death in the first 10 minutes of the movie. Now Graham Green is a great actor, and it seems like so much of a waste to have the likes of him and Sinise’s talents wasted in such tiny parts…just my opinion, though. It’s abou this time that we meet a little mouse by the name of Mr. Jingles. Mr. Jingles must be the most talented, carefree mouse out there. Not afraid to beg for food or perform “fetch” tricks, Mr. Jingles is the comic relief that is much needed in this tear-jerker.

Back to Coffey (like the drink)…he has a few opportunities to show off his impressive talent as he cures Paul’s urinary infection, literally buy sucking the infection out of the body. It’s at this time that Paul starts to doubt that Coffey was actually the killer of the two nine year old girls that he was sentenced for. As the movie progresses, we learn and are shown that there’s no way that Coffey could be a killer. A man scared of the dark, who heals a mouse and carries it in the palm of his hand, and a love for life and all around him cannot be a killer. Lest we forget this is the deep south in 1935, so the “good ‘ol boy” network is in full swing.

Ultimately inspiring and very uplifting, The Green Mile will take your emotions on a roller-coaster ride. While it’s true that it’s not quite as good as it’s counterpart, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile is well worth a look. A great cast delivers in Darabont’s second film, and if you look real close you’ll see a member from the Shawshank cast make his way into this one as well. Though make time in your schedules to see all of this one, clocking in at 188 minutes (3 hours 8 minutes), it’ll take some time to watch. And have your Kleenex ready as well.

Video: How does it look?

The Green Mile is presented in a 16:9 anampophic transfer at it’s original ratio of 1.85:1. Quite simply this is another outstanding transfer from Warner. The colors are rich and very vivid and the black levels are right on target. While not really a “dark movie”, the color tones are purposely muted. Every detail of every scene looks fantastic and it’s a wonder how much better (if any) that these transfers can get.

Audio: How does it sound?

While not quite as impressive as the video, the audio of The Green Mile does take advantage of it’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. A good example of a subwoofer effect is when Coffey takes Hanks’ hand, if you don’t hear the loudest “thump” you’ve ever heard…check your system configuration! Dialogue is clear and you can hear the southern drawls with the utmost accuracy. Truly a nice job here as well, though the script didn’t really call for all the audio that we’re used to.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Being such a long movie, it’s understandable that this is lacking in this department. A featurette “Walking the Green Mile” is shown and it’s interesting, but that’s about it. Warner has also included the original theatrical trailer as well as production notes. My only complaint is about the menus, they look and sound great but they seem to have a sort of “pixelated” look to them. Maybe it’s supposed to be that way, maybe not…it’s just something that I noticed. Overall, a great DVD.

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