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Young Guns (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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Young Guns (1988)

William H. Boney, for a 20 something misanthrope, made quite the imprint on the world. Whether it’s a sad indictment on our global culture that these types of people cement themselves into history or a tip of the cap to a now alien time and tenacity it took to survive it, I’ll leave for you to decide.

"Set your brains to neutral and embrace its absurdity and an enjoyable time is guaranteed."


As a thirteen year-old Australian kid, the son of a western loving baby-boomer, even I was primed to love the 1988 film version of the adventures of Billy the Kid. Young Guns is an odd product of the Eighties; it filled its cast with some of the hottest male up-and-comers of the day, took an infamous Old West outlaw’s tale and dubiously adapted it, and slapped an odd rock and roll soundtrack on images of gunplay and horse chases. Not knowing anything about the real story or much of anything about a country I didn’t live in, I was enthralled.

The film picks up at the point in Billy’s (Emilio Estevez) life where he is taken in by Englishmen John Tunstall. Unfortunately, Mr. Tunstall (Terrence Stamp) is an unwanted to competitor in Lincoln county to Lawrence Murphy (Jack Pallance) a corrupt and powerful cattleman who has his finger in every pie and resents Tunstall’s audacious plan to bring competition to the region. Murphy sends his men to off Tunstall, and inadvertently gives birth to one of the Old West’s most infamous outlaws. When Boney and Tunstall’s boys are deputized to bring in Murphy’s murderous posse, Boney, seeing the corruption and lawlessness of the region, takes it upon himself to deliver swift justice (*cough REVENGE) instead. Billy the Kid is born.

There’s a stellar cast assembled to bring this version's take on all the men that actually existed. While the film plays extremely loose and fast with whom these men were, the actors who portray them employ their requisite skills to indelibly make them memorable. For all the names in this picture, the likes of Palance, Stamp, Sheen, Sutherland etc, I always took to Dermot Mulroney’s Steve. It was the first film I noticed him in as a kid, and I liked him in almost everything he did. Although this is essentially an ensemble, focusing on the regulators mostly, Estevez is the lead and effectively owns the picture. His Billy, completely fictional as it is (William H. Boney looked and acted nothing like him), is believable as a likeable yet dangerous young man in lawless times.

Christopher Cain constructed a good looking picture, but the vistas somewhat expected from a western seemed constrained in his film, perhaps due to the 11 million dollars budget. As mentioned earlier, the score, by Anthony Marinelli and Brian Banks, is bat shit crazy inappropriate from the subject material and I love it. Pure Eighties cheese there, folks, watching Boney escape Murphy men while guitar solos cut sick all over the place. It still brings a smile to my face.Young Guns (1988)

Young Guns is not a great movie, but maybe for my own nostalgic rose tinted glasses I still love it. It’s been critically slammed since it came out, and detached from the decade it was made in, it fairs even worse if one is to be objective. It’s a competent if inaccurate and vacuous biopic that eschews all substance for style. But style it had, and great talent it possessed in spades. So much so that there was a sequel (Though I don’t think one was intended.)

Set your brains to neutral and embrace its absurdity and an enjoyable time is guaranteed.

3/5 stars

Young Guns (1988)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate
Available on Blu-ray
- Fenruary 6, 2007
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD HR 6.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

VIDEO:

Yeah… it ain’t great. It’s a relatively clean print, with only minimal noise and dirt in the print, but its colours are dull and muted. Its blacks are muddied and washed out with pixilation and crush in darker scenes prevalent throughout. I noticed what I assumed to be heavy-handed edge enhancement and the skin tones are a bit waxy in some scenes--as if a rush clean up was performed. I’m only guessing. Film grain is intact for the most part, but inconsistent. Even adjusting my colour and contrast settings, it was hard to make anything stand out. Is it better than the DVD? Fractionally, but I would be hoping for a new scan for future releases (If there will be.)
RATING 2/5

AUDIO:

Much better than the video. There are two options a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix or a 6.1 DTS-HD lossless track (the one chosen for this review). It’s a solid presentation. Young Guns was more dialogue that epic action scenes, and the centre channel is clear and delineated, but when gunfights do occur you get effective bang for your buck and some directionality.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

A subject appropriate short documentary with historians running you through the actual life of Billy the Kid. This isn’t in the context of the film, so it’s not like the experts are gonna tell you how far off the mark the film is, but it's informative if dated, and an easy watch. There’s a pop-up trivia track overlay you can engage while you watch the movie that’s a relic of ‘features’ they no longer do for movies. And some trailers for other moves (but no Young Guns!) All very meh.

  • Documentary
  • Pop-up Trivia Track

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  2/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 2/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

2.5/5 stars

Young Guns (1988)

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
107 mins
Director
: Christopher Cain
Writer:
John Fusco
Cast:
Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips
Genre
: Western | Action
Tagline:
Don't count the odds, count the bodies.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You know, Sir, I do admire you, and I sure would like to touch the gun that's gonna kill Billy the Kid."
Theatrical Distributor:
Twentieth Century Fox
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 12, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 6, 2007
Synopsis: A group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid, become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor. But when Billy takes their authority too far, they become the hunted.

Young Guns (1988)

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