Gran Torino (Blu-ray)

Korean War vet and retired auto worker Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) doesn't much like how his life or his neighborhood has turned out. He especially doesn't like the people next door—Hmong immigrants from Southeast Asia. But events force him to defend those neighbors against a local gang that feeds on violence and fear.

Eastwood delivered two outstanding films last year—the Angelina Jolie drama Changeling and the holiday-season release of Gran Torino. Both were brilliantly directed, and I think Eastwood is getting better and better in that role. Gran Torino features what is said to be Eastwood's last performance as an actor, and what a way to go. Eastwood plays a crotchety old man whose racial point of view hasn't adapted to the 21st century. But his point of view begins to change as he mentors the next door neighbor, who attempted to heist his cherished Gran Torino. While the themes can be a bit shocking, this is one of Eastwood's best efforts.

Warner delivers a solid HD transfer that showcases a nice sense of dimensionality. Fine detail is on display throughout, and the depth is better than what I've been seeing from most of Warner's catalog output. Contrast is solid and adds to the sense of dimension, and the natural photography creates a realistic color palette.

The soundtrack is delivered in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, and while not exciting, it gets the job done. Its spacious sound design delivers subtle nuances with discrete cues heard in the surround speakers. Dialog is always natural in timbre and tone, and imaging is spot on.

The extras are a bit disappointing from a production standpoint and limited to a focus on Eastwood and his filming style. The other featurettes dwell on the American automobile and its roll in modern society. A second disc contains a digital copy for portable devices.

Gran Torino is incredibly moving and will probably be the last great performance by American icon Clint Eastwood. Warner delivers a solid presentation, but I had hoped for a bit more in the supplements. In any event, this is a must-own for any film collector.

Release Date:June 9, 2009
Studio: Warner

Movie: 9/10
Picture: 8/10
Sound: 8/10

Review System

Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player

Planar PD-8150 DLP projector
120" Stewart StudioTek 130 screen w/Carada Masquerade masking system

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Outlaw Model 7900 power amp
Exact Power EP-15A voltage regulator
Exact Power SP15x4 balanced power transformer

Paradigm Reference Signature S8 front L/R
Paradigm Reference Signature C5 center
Paradigm Reference Signature ADP surrounds
Paradigm Reference Signature S6 rears
Dual SVS PB12/2 Plus subs
Dual SVS 25/31 subs

Cables by Accell, Nordost, Blue Jeans, and Better Cables