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Blu-ray Reviews: Forrest Gump

Originally published in Australian Smart Home Ideas, Winter 2010
Last updated 22 May 2011

Forrest Gump
1994 - Paramount Home Entertainment (Australasia) Pty Ltd
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field, Michael Conner Humphreys, Siobhan Fallon and Hanna Hall

Movie: Picture: Sound: Extras:

Deriding Hollywood is a lot of fun: it sticks to well-tried formulas in order to make a lot of money, treats its audiences with contempt and avoids controversial and difficult material. It assumes that cinema goers are just plain stupid, so they need to have everything explained. If one sword and sandals movie makes it big, then a dozen more must follow.

Except that such views require a suspension of disbelief greater than that demanded by 2012. Time and time again Hollywood makes something like Forrest Gump. Unexpected, unformulaic, quality cinema. Gump is a mixture of the intensely personal story (say, a soft version of Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade), and the sprawling historical epic.

Hanks is a revelation, managing the part of the low-IQ Gump with extraordinary charm. And the special effects are almost immaculate (only the John Lennon spot seems a bit clunky). For 2012 I noted that the special effects 'were impressive and mostly looked plausible to the eye,' but of course, who knows what a city falling into a pit truly looks like? The Gump effects are harder, because they have dead people doing everyday things, which are things we truly do know the looks of.

And this movie pulls it off. Essentially, it makes certain former US Presidents say things they didn't say -- with Gump inserted into the frame -- and it allows a regular actor to be an entirely convincing double amputee.

All this is presented in nearly perfect video. Toss out your DVD, you need to replace it with this disc. The greens of the South of the US, the greens of Vietnam (also filmed in the US) are glorious. The cinematography of the material set in the fifties and sixties captures the naivety of the time beautifully.

Much of the sound track consists of songs contemporary to the on-screen action. I think that movie sound engineers have a special gift for presenting old recordings in a way that makes them cleaner and more convincing than the original, and the same applies here. But the real treat appears in the Vietnam sequences. Just listen to those helicopters!

Running time: 142 minutes
Picture: 2.35:1, 1080p24, MPEG4 AVC @ 26.56Mbps
Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 24/48 3/2.1 @ 4,094kbps (core: DTS 16/48 3/2.1 @ 1509kbps); French, German, Spanish, Italian: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; Commentary (Zemeckis, Starkey, Carter), Commentary (Finerman): Dolby Digital Surround 2/0.0 @ 224kbps
Subtitles: Danish, German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, English for the Hearing Impaired, German (Commentary 1), Italian (Commentary 1), English (Commentary 1), Spanish (Commentary 1), German (Commentary 2), Italian (Commentary 2), English (Commentary 2), Spanish (Commentary 2)
Extras: Bookmarks; 6 Featurettes (1080p24, MPEG4 AVC, DD2.0 @ 224kbps - 181 mins); 16 Featurettes (480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 224kbps - 63 mins); 7 Screen Tests (480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 224kbps - 9 mins); 2 Trailers (1080p24, MPEG4 AVC, DD2.0 @ 224kbps - 5 mins)
Restrictions: Rated (Australian rating); Region Free

The following video bitrate graph was generated by BDInfo. This is the graph for the main movie stream:

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