Gone Baby Gone (DVD & Blu-Ray)

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
The cover is pretty standard. The menu is one of those Blu-ray creations with the slicing over the top of the movie, which is cool. It’s designed to fit the style of the movie, sort of. I think we will see a lot of these standard menus in the future. Most studios might not be willing to put the cash into designing cool menus, but we can hope.

Features: 6/10

  • Extended Ending – This ending doesn’t really add much. I totally understand why they cut it down just a tiny bit to simplify what is a poignant way to bring the story to its end.
  • Deleted Scenes With Commentary By Ben Affleck & Aaron Stockard – Some of these scenes are just extended ones that are in the movie, and then a couple that are not really missed in the final cut. Nothing that would change the movie was taken out, at least not to me.
  • Going Home Behind The Scenes With Ben Affleck – This is almost one of those TV spots that tells you about a movie a few months before it comes out. You know the ones, like on HBO and whatnot. It’s not obnoxious or flashy though, so it’s worth watching if you want to find out more about how the movie came to be made and a little bit about Affleck’s directorial debut.
  • Capturing Authenticity Casting Gone Baby Gone – This little bit is about how the whole movie was made in Boston, as per the original books, and because the Affleck’s are from Boston so it all fits nicely together. It really does give the movie a more authentic look and feel, but then again, I have been convinced of things like the existence of giant apes and that places like a planet covered by one bit city are floating around somewhere out in space…so authenticity is in the eye of each person.
  • Audio Commentary By Writer Director Ben Affleck & Writer Aaron Stockard – Affleck is a funny guy, there’s not denying that fact. I genuinely think he’s a lot of fun to listen to and he seems really into making films, so that makes it more enjoyable. He doesn’t come across as one of those actor types who decides to direct as a notch in their belt. I hope we hear more from this guy Affleck in the future from behind the camera.

Movie: 10/10
Every story is about people making choices. Every book, every movie, every song, every poem, they are all about choices, consequences, heart break or happy endings that are arrived at through a series of events and decisions made by the characters who inhabit them. This isn’t rocket literature science, right? Well, sometimes that simple concept is lost amongst frills, bells, whistles, and poor story telling. Gone Baby Gone is one of those films that never let me forget that everything the people in its world chose to do lead to a direct and often undesired outcome. The author of the original books and the screenwriters don’t lose this difficult aspect of human drama, which is taking responsibility for our choices.

Gone Baby Gone doesn’t wrap it all up in a tidy little package, but every step of the way someone makes their moves and we get the immediate fall out, right in our faces, with no softening the blow or apology.

What is the story? Well, a couple who have a private detective agency normally look for scum bags, criminals, and general riffraff are asked by an Aunt of a little girl who has gone missing to please help the police find her. Sounds straight forward, and in a lot of movie maker’s hands it would be reduced to some action sequences, melodramatic dialogue, and a clear cut set of good and bad guys. I would say that in the hands of Affleck and Stockard who wrote the screenplay, and with Casey Affleck in the lead role, there’s nothing standard about this film.

From the moment we meet Patrick (Affleck) we know he’s a man who makes his choices in life with a measure of control and reasonable consideration. He’s not a hot head. He’s not overly brooding. However, from an early scene in which he demonstrates he’s not afraid or intimidated by anyone we know he’s not going to be manipulated, or that he’s got any maturing to do. He is who he is and when he makes choices through the story it’s more and more established what a solid and believable character he is.

His ‘better half’ is just as real, just as bold. She’s not intimidated by even the most hard core moments. The only thing we learn about her early on is that she doesn’t want to follow the pursuit of finding the little girl because, as she says, “I don’t want to find a kid in a dumpster.” Which says a lot about her, but then she experiences the family, the aunt, and the prospects of what the child might be going through and she takes on the job. I don’t get the sense that she’s following her man for the sake of it. I’m convinced that she would have turned it down regardless of his decision if she hadn’t felt she could do some good. She does trust him, but not blindly.

The mother of the child is not likable. The aunt is a bit frantic. The circumstances are questionable, from the start. There is not a good place to cut into the story to explain how it goes without giving away important plot points that are better experienced when you watch the film for yourself. I don’t tell the story or give away the whole shebang, for that you need to go read Ebert’s review..haha

I will say that the choices the characters make get harder and harder, but our leading man never waivers. He proves over and over that he’s willing to follow through with his decisions and face the consequences whatever they may be. Casey Affleck gives enough vulnerable moments mixed with gripping instances when you think, “Oh shit, did he really just do that?” and then you take a deep breath and want to follow him through whatever comes next. Everyone is excellent in this film, but Affleck is an attention getter, for sure.

Michelle Monaghan is fantastic, and yes I was skeptical. The last thing I saw her in was The Bourne Ultimatum in which she was pretty much nothing, and before that in The Heartbreak Kid in which she was funny and charming but gave no indication that drama was going to come so naturally for her. I’m happily surprised.

Ed Harris was Ed Harris with the intense scenes, the volatility and honed skills of a seasoned performer. As was Morgan Freeman. They are always great, it’s just that they are almost always the same. I’m not saying Harris was Pollack and Freeman was pulling out his comedic God role from Bruce Almighty, but if you have seen these gentlemen in a lot of movies, as I have, you will know exactly what I mean.

The film has a certain style that’s gritty and sometimes even so close to feeling real it’s unsettling. That’s what makes it so good. Made in Boston on location and with a lot of Bostonians in the scenes it’s grounded. Then again, I thought last week’s movie (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) looked like it was made in Missouri, I’m from Missouri, and it was made in Canada..so there ya go. I might not be the best expert on gritty reality when it comes to believing what I’m seeing in movies.

Overall this movie took me on a journey, yes, that old chestnut. I was into it from the first shot to the last and with all my story loving heart. That might sound lame to someone who’s a professional literature geek, but hey, that ain’t me. I know a good story that’s told well from a mile away, and Gone Baby Gone is at the top of my list at the moment.

Video & Audio: (By Ascully): 9/10
Gone Baby Gone on Blu-Ray disc looks and sounds brilliant, this is a gritty often dark movie (in tone as well as visually) so it was a wise decision for Miramax to go with the dual layer 50GB disc for the movie, since there are not a lot of extras most of the 50GB of data are taken up with a extremely high bit rate version of the movie that never falters. We also had a quick look at the standard DVD release of the movie and it was very close in terms of picture quality sure the Blu-Ray is sharper and better for larger screens but the DVD is fine also.

Audio is also exceptional (not that this is a film with many action scenes) since the movie is mainly dialog based, but when the film does heat up and gunshots are heard it really snaps you into the action. The DVD and BluRay both feature a 5.1 Dolby Digital mix but the Uncompressed version of the soundtrack that is Blu-Ray exclusive is where the action is in the sound dept.

Value: 7/10
I love this movie. The DVD is one of those I have to have on my shelf. It’s the movie, not the whole package, that’s for sure. I don’t always give a great score to DVD’s if the extras aren’t great, but then sometimes I do:) This time I do. The movie can override the lack of extras when the thing itself is amazing. Gone Baby Gone is one of those movies. It’s worth buying this DVD for the movie, even if you get the old fashioned DVD version instead of the Blu-ray.

Overall Score 9/10