Goodfellas 25th Anniversary Blu-ray

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Goodfellas 25th Anniversary Blu-ray review Critical Blast Chris Delloiacono

Sometimes you're lucky to review an item that simply put, you know going in you already love. I mean, what can I tell you about the film Goodfellas that hasn't already been said? It's up there with the first two Godfather films as one of the greatest achievements in gangster cinema. So glorious is this film that it transcends the genre and isn't JUST a gangster film. It's simply a masterful piece of storytelling. Beautifully written, masterfully directed, and featuring some of the best performances of the past quarter century. It's fingerprint is upon so many films that have come since. Goodfellas has created stereotypes and tropes of the genre, yet when it was released it was original and vibrant. The only question to be pondered: does it hold up twenty-five years later.

Goodfellas featured a brilliant cast and a decades-long story. The film revolves around the rise of Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, from child to big-time gangster. Liotta's first-person narration propels the story and brings us a vivid window into the events of his life, including the Lufthansa Heist, which was the crown jewel of the Lucchese family. The events end up spinning out of control, and the fall comes. What a ride it is! With key players like Joe Pesci (who won and Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Robert DeNiro, and Paul Sorvino, the Mob never seemed so compelling, and, at first likable. These actors then turn it all around and the horror of who they truly are, well, gives you reason to shudder.

Balancing the mobster elements is Liotta's love story with wife Karen, played by Lorraine Bracco. The love story starts off fun with spots of humor, but, much like Hill's work life, soon spiral into chaos. Each side of Hill's story is entrancing, and you're never waiting for a scene switch.

Stunning acting is aided by brilliant words that leave the viewer with a lush tapestry of quotable moments. Nicholas Pileggi (who also wrote the book on which the film is based) and Martin Scorsese collaborated not only with one another but the entire cast. The actors had access to Pileggi's original notes as well as real life mobster Henry Hill. The basis on fact helps keep the characters from descending into cardboard mobsters. These are very likable people...until you see their dark sides. Such a fine group of actors and wonderful craftsmen behind the scenes are what makes the film stand out.

So many people I know worry about what actors are in a film. For me, directors are a more surefire sign of quality. Everyone has their stinkers but if the final name in the credits reads: Steven Spielberg, John Ford, Edgar Wright, or Martin Scorsese, chances are, a wonderful time will be had. With Goodfellas, Scorsese weaves story, voiceover, performance, and wonderful music into an engaging tapestry.

Special Features

There's no point in a Blu-ray release unless there are a plethora of extras. First, you get a slick 32-page book that's well written and has some nice photos. Nothing amazing but a nice extra. The key new piece is an all-star documentary about the greatness of Goodfellas. It's a lot of fun to hear Leonardo DiCaprio and Harvey Keitel tell their feelings from outside the production while we also hear from those within like Lorraine Bracco, Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta and others. It's a nice piece that sheds some light and runs about 30 minutes.

Most of the other special features carry over from the previous DVD release in 2005. All told, they featurettes are pretty extensive. If you enjoy hearing cast and crew reminisce about a masterpiece, these extras will make you happy. There's also a two hour film about the history of American gangster films and a few Merrie Melodies shorts with gangster tidbits. The new material is substantial, but If you don't own a previous release than the amount of extras makes this set a no-brainer! Double dipping? Well, you have to decide for yourself. Let me say, the picture and sound are outstanding. I'd venture to say that Goodfellas has never looked this good on a television screen. Without a doubt, if you buy this disc, you are getting one of the finest films in modern cinema.

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0