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Click above to purchase "Forrest Gump: Special Collector's Edition" at amazon.com

 

 

Forrest Gump
Special Collector's Edition

review by Zach B.

Rated PG-13

Studio: Paramount

Running Time: 142 minutes

Starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field

Screenplay by Eric Roth
Based on the novel by Eric Roth

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Retail Price: $29.99

Features:
Disc 1 - Audio Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis, Producer Steve Starkey and Production Designer Rick Carter, Audio Commentary with Producer Wendy Finerman

Disc 2 - Through The Eyes Of Forrest Gump documentary, The Magic Of Makeup, Through The Ears Of Forrest Gump, Building The World Of Gump, Seeing Is Believing - 11 Visual Effects, Photo Gallery, Screen Tests, Theatrical Trailer, Re-release Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital English 5.1, French Dolby Surround, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Scene Selection (19 Scenes), Two-Disc Set

Released: August 28th, 2001

"Run Forrest, run!"

Like so many good movies, I really have no clue where to begin when talking about them and reviewing them. I suppose I'll start with the popularity of "Forrest Gump", which has been a highly regarded film ever since it's debut in July 1994. I remember that summer well... I saw the movie in theaters twice. Of course the movie was a critics darling, won all sorts of awards (including the Oscar® for Best Picture and Hanks' second Best Actor Oscar® in a row) and was a giant box office success. The film was based on Winston Groom's popular novel, and the movie also worked its way into pop culture with the irreverent "Gumpisms" - "Stupid is as stupid does" and everybody's favorite one "Life is a like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get"

For those unfamiliar with the movie, the premise is utterly simple and magical in a sense. Forrest Gump, a simpleton man from Alabama, recounts his life to those who sit by him on a bench while waiting for a bus. Forrest recalls his days growing up, his love interest Jenny who he always happens to run into, his experiences in Vietnam, playing ping-pong, starting a successful shrimp company (which leads back to Vietnam in a few ways, mainly with the characters Lieutenant Dan and his late "best good friend" Bubba), and a whole lot more with a lot of his life experiences. This movie, essentially, is a look at American history and how Forrest touches and inspires people throughout some key decades and how he goes through certain events... and how certain events pass right by him.

I've seen "Forrest Gump" time and time again thanks to the power of VHS, cable TV and network TV. When I first saw this movie I really loved it. I thought it was great and really enjoyable. It was one of the best movies I'd seen in a bit upon the 1994 release. There was just so much to it, and experiencing it with audiences in a theater made it more worthwhile as people could act and remember the past and relate to it in some ways. After all the viewings though, I still find it a really entertaining film, though it is a little bit boring after seeing it so many times because there's not much else to experience. Still, it's finely crafted and I think perfect the film is perfect in its essence. Whenever I see "Forrest Gump" I just get sucked into watching it and the time flies right by. I don't like it any less than the first time I saw it, it just feels a little old since I've seen it over and over again. It's kind of lost it's luster to me, and doesn't feel as magical as the first few times I saw it. However, I still love the movie and it'll always be a great movie to me no matter what. As I said, it still entertains me and it's really well made.

Now onto the actual movie itself. Eric Roth took a crack at adapting Winston Groom's novel after others tried, and I think he gets it perfectly. He was even awarded an Oscar® for the screenplay. He really gets it down perfectly creating great dialogue, developing the characters really well and making the whole nature of it realistic and believable. The screenplay does cover a good deal of American history and events, and it's nice how the script does intertwine things, just like in the original Winston Groom novel. He develops all of the film nicely, giving everything enough time to grow and to expand. It's just very even and by the end, you feel like you know all the characters like good friends. Roth knows where to go with the book and how much to focus on exactly, which is something not easy to do when writers set to adapt books. Thankfully, it all works here and as I mentioned, a whole slew of American events is countered.

Robert Zemeckis won an Academy Award® for his direction, and man, what a job he does. Using Roth's incredible screenplay, he sets the movie at over two hours. However, as I earlier mentioned, it all flies right by. Zemeckis sets a very good pace for the movie as it all goes so quick. Zemeckis also uses some pretty incredible camera shots that I liked. How the feather is presented is really nice, not to mention the good and fast movements of the camera in the Vietnam sequence. Zemeckis knows when to use good establishing shots, good wide shots and good close-ups. He makes the movie feel tight, warm and natural. That is not an easy task.

Despite Zemeckis' lean direction and the worthy Roth adaption, perhaps what makes the film all the more believable is the acting. I mentioned Hanks winning his second Academy Award® in a row for Best Actor (which was only accomplished once before), and man, it was an award well deserved. Sure Hanks has done a number of great roles, but to me, and I'm sure to a lot of people, this one is one of the best. Hanks has quite an amazing range as we've come to see through his career, but he really takes the character of Forrest and runs with. Complete with his accent, Hanks perfectly makes Forrest humane and innocent. He truly embodies the character with his emotions, mannerisms and feelings. It's just one fine performance everyone should witness. Supporting players in this movie also stand out. Gary Sinise as the emotional and fragile Lieutenant Dan is really a highlight of his career, as we can feel his pain. Sally Field and Mykelti Williamson are very good in their smaller roles, while Robin Wright (now Robin Wright Penn) is excellent as Jenny. We can see her insecurities come alive as she goes through a few eras. Wright plays off Hanks nicely, and there is chemistry there.

"Forrest Gump" succeeds on technical levels as well. The film is sharply edited so we see all that we should and we do very skillfully. Alan Silvestri's memorable and downright touching score is pretty breathtaking and compliments the film. Finally, upon the original release, the movie also got attention for its special effects created by the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic. They accomplish something that was never seen before. Taking real footage of real people and blending them with actors and manipulating them to make them say and do what they wanted. The big Kennedy scene got a lot of attention as I recall, and now seven years later as of writing this, it's amazing how far we've come with special effects and technology.

Despite that I have grown a little tired of the movie from an incredible amount of viewings, "Forrest Gump" is a true masterpiece and I think it is perfection. It is a bit lengthy, but it all goes by so fast. Zemeckis' direction is perfect, the adaptation is wonderful and the acting as well as other elements are tremendous. It's like a puzzle that all fits together perfectly. Everything is well established and developed in this movie. It all works really well. A lot have you have seen the movie by now, but if you haven't, sit back, relax and enjoy the journey of Forrest Gump.

"Forrest Gump" is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio, that being 2.35:1 and is enhanced for widescreen televisions. The result is very good, though I was slightly disappointed since it's one of Paramount's best movies and it's not up to their usual caliber of transfers. However, for a movie that's a few years old, it still looks really good and fans of the film will not be disappointed. The picture has some grain that I found to be a bit annoying at times, not to mention the image can change from somewhat sharp to soft throughout the movie. Contrast can be a bit high at times, and in some scenes there is shimmering as well as noise. The "halo" effect also pops up at times which I always find annoying. Colors are pretty well saturated and hues and colors seem to be on the mark. Black levels are good and detail is also good. Blemishes and pieces of dirt do pop up on the print. Yet what I disliked though is how at times the movie looked a bit underwhelming and murky where it really didn't need to be. It just don't look or feel right within the context sometimes. I suppose I was expecting a much sharper image. Still, it comes off to show the true majesty and wonder "Forrest Gump" brings.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for "Forrest Gump" perfectly captures the variety and wondrous sounds the movie has to offer. Sometimes elements can roar and other times they can be quiet. The film reflects a lot of changes and events, not to mention feelings and moods, and the 5.1 track captures that in the best ways possible. The beautiful and mesmerizing Alan Silvestri score sounds beautiful and encompasses all the channels very nicely. The same goes for the variety of classic songs that play throughout the movie, even if some are just part of the background. Smaller sounds such as doors opening, trees waving back and forth and running are well mixed. The far more intense sounds do bring a lot of life to the track. Crowds cheering at the football games, when Forrest speaks in Washington D.C., when Gump faces a storm when hunting for shrimp and of course, when Forrest heads off to Vietnam. The gunshots, rain and explosions in the sequence are incredible and really puts you right in the action. Forrest playing ping-pong sounds good as well. The 5.1 mix features good transparency and good bass extension thanks to the .1 LFE. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, it's not distorted or muffled and nothing gets in its way. Overall, a very nice track that is sure to please. A French Dolby Surround track is also included, as well as English closed captions and English subtitles through the disc.

There's been a little bit of hype about "Forrest Gump" coming to DVD. Forget the fact it's a movie so many have loved, but it is Paramount's first major special edition (a little more major than "Mission: Impossible 2" I suppose), not to mention their first two-disc set (well, that's not true. "The Ten Commandments", anyone?). Okay, first two-disc set with the second disc devoted to supplements. That's better. Thankfully, this is a worthy set that does not disappoint at all.

The first disc contains two different audio commentaries. The first Audio Commentary with Director Robert Zemeckis, Producer Steve Starkey and Production Designer Rick Carter is pretty good. Not the best I've heard, but there's a very good amount of information to get out of this track. It's very serious and pretty technical, and I think casual fans of the movie may be bored with. Still, the die-hard film geeks will eat this up. The track is obviously edited, with a few pauses, but each of the men give their input about the movie and talk a lot about how things are accomplished. Zemeckis came off a little arrogant and cocky to me, but there's no doubt that he's honest and did enjoy the challenges of the film. He talks about creating narration, the visual effects, some of the story and characters the editing, songs and a whole other things. Carter and Starkey seem to be recorded together as at times they respond to one another at times. The two talk more about the story and the characters, it's a focus there, but they also offer some pretty interesting production stories that I really enjoyed. There's also some things on locations, the actual history and how things went down. All in all, fans of the movie will be pleased and there certainly is a whole lot of information to enjoy and get out. It's not always specific to the screen, but that's okay.

The other Audio Commentary with Producer Wendy Finerman is also a good track. I was glad to see this on the disc, because I was not expecting this track. Anyway, Finerman is pretty enthusiastic about the movie and offers a load of praise for the cast and crew. She does get a bit wrapped up in the movie and pauses a bit, sometimes for pretty long times which I found annoying. She does offer detailed information as she talks about the acting, where the movie was shot, casting and some visual effects related things at times. Still, some of her comments are a bit obvious and repetitive. All in all though, fans of the movie will want to listen to this and despite the pauses, it's worth hearing. This track is more well-rounded and entertaining. Still, both of them are good listens and as I said, fans of the movie should listen to them.

The second disc now... Through The Eyes Of Forrest Gump is a half-hour documentary that is really well worth the watch. I remember reading somewhere that this documentary is the best-selling or most rented documentary about the film. It was directed by Peyton Reed, who some of you may be familiar with as he directed the popular comedy Bring It On. It is a bit promotional, but it's so well made you may not even notice. There are clips from the movie, a lot of behind-the-scenes footage and quite a few on the set interviews. Zemeckis, Hanks, Field, Finerman and a few others talk about the story and the characters. Some of the stuff here can be found on the commentary, such as the kid who played the young Forrest being a good fit with Hanks. There's also a good portion on making the visual effects. In the end, it adds up to a very good watch.

Next up are a few production featurettes. Building The World Of Gump focuses on the production design. Rick Carter talks about the movie and what it meant to him. Carter also discusses the locations, making the Gump house, shooting scenes in Washington D.C. making Vietnam. There are clips from the movie and behind-the-scenes footage in it as well. It's a little over seven minutes and is pretty good, though I'd stick with Carter's comments on the commentary.

The Magic Of Makeup has make up artist Dan Striepeke talking about the film's makeup in much detail. He talks about the colors, how he aged the characters and how they made them look different for different scenes. Clips from the movie accompany Striepeke's comments sometimes too. It lasts eight minutes.

Seeing Is Believing: The Visual Effects Of Forrest Gump is broken down into a eleven sections, each dealing with a specific visual effect: "Birth Of A Nation", "Run Forrest, Run", "Martin Luther King, Jr.", "George Wallace", "Vietnam", "Ping Pong with George Bush", "Lyndon B. Johnson", "Enhancing Reality", "John Lennon with Dick Cavett", "Lt. Dan's Legs" and finally, "Richard Nixon" tops them off. Shots from the movie, behind-the-scenes-footage and interviews with visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston are shown in each of these. Ralston talks about the visual effects and in a few there is another interview or two, but the focus is basically on him. The George Bush and Martin Luther King Jr. sequences were never used, but the Bush scene is shown pretty much complete while the Martin Luther King Jr. shows shots of the actual scene being filmed. Each of these last a few short minutes, though some are bit longer. Overall, these are really interesting and they are a great thing to have as they are pretty short, sweet and talk about the scenes and how they were ultimately accomplished.

Through The Ears Of Forrest Gump focuses on the sound design for "The Bike", "Crowds", "Vietnam", "Rain" and "Ping Pong" Like the visual effects, there are other worthy editions to the set that last a few minutes each (though these are a bit shorter).Sound designer Randy Thom talks about each of these and how he helped achieved them. He talks about making the sounds, how they fit into the movie and how it all worked out in general. Clips from the movie as well as behind-the-scenes footage are shown here. Very nice and some interesting tidbits here.

Screen Tests is a very nice section. There are three different sections: one for Hanna R. Hall and Michael Conner Humphrey (young Jenny and young Forrest, three tests there), one for Robin Wright (two for her) and finally, Forrest Jr., Haley Joel Osment himself (two tests there). Man, how young he was! It's a bit eerie, and he plays off of Hanks nicely at such a young age, including an enlightening conversation about "Darkwing Duck"... hehe.

A Photo Gallery is included with some nice stills from the movie and on the set, as well as two trailers, each in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound. The Theatrical Trailer lasts nearly four minutes (oy) and the Remember Trailer is a re-release trailer that lasts a much shorter one minute and ten seconds.

On another note, the menus here are nicely animated with the film's score. Very classy and very well done. Also, a big kudos to Paramount as once again they provide English captions for all the featurettes.

I'm personally thrilled to finally have "Forrest Gump" in my DVD collection (scratch out another big title off the list!). Paramount has delivered a terrific presentation for the movie and a good amount of great supplements. Hopefully, we can look forward to more packed DVDs from Paramount. Simply put though: this is one for the collection. Let the big fall buying season begin (though as of writing this it is still August)!

(5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(4/5)

(4/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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