Smokey & The Bandit Blu-ray Review
Distributor: Universal (UK)
“What we have here is a total lack of respect for the law”
Take Burt Reynolds in his prime, a black Trans Am, 1800 miles of road, 400 cases of Coors beer and just a few hours to transport it across state lines, and you have a classic road movie. Add to the mix Jackie Gleason in an unforgettable performance as the unstoppable Texas County Mountie, Sheriff Buford T. Justice and you have one of the best classic car chase comedies of all time.
Smokey & The Bandit was a smash hit on release and managed to spawn two sequels (the last being mostly without Reynolds) however the film has appeared almost forgotten these days. Previously released on DVD in typically low key affairs, the film now gets a new lease of life on a region free Blu-ray thanks to Universal Pictures
The film is presented in a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer which now looks better than ever before. Colours are excellent throughout and really help to breathe new life into the film itself. Detail is impressive especially for a 30 year old movie and there is no damage or dirt to found on the screen. With a small amount of fine grain detail present in a few scenes, overall the transfer is surprisingly good.
Audio is presented in DTS HD 5.1 which although clear, does come across as a perhaps a little flat in places. Saying that, the level is certainly more than adequate and to expect a 70's road movie to be heavy on the surround sound effects would really be a little unfair.
Extras features are however a real disappointment and a lost opportunity. There is nothing to be found here, not even a trailer. This could have been the ideal opportunity to have some fresh interviews or even a documentary about the film which has gained a wide cult following over the years and to not even include the previous DVD extras is a real shame. This kind of laziness calls for Sheriff Buford T. Justice himself to hunt down the executives at Universal and in one of his classic rants, explain why they are letting down fans of the film.
On the whole and putting the issue of extras (or lack of any) to one side for the moment, this Blu-ray release is a great improvement over the previous DVDs. The transfer easily looks better than ever before and if you haven't seen the film in a while, you will be surprised not only how good it looks here, but also how much fun the movie really is. The Blu-ray can also be found reasonably cheaply on-line so it is definitely worth revisiting if this is one that holds fond memories for you.
Hopefully Universal will release the other films in the series with Gleason's now legendary performance becoming more and more outrageous throughout the franchise.
So for the time being, grab a cold one, sit back and enjoy a pure comedy classic like you have never seen it before, they really don't make 'em like this these days.
“I'VE SAID IT BEFORE AND I'LL SAY IT AGAIN, THERE AIN'T NO WAY JUNIOR, THAT YOU COULD COME FROM MY LOINS...........first thing I'm gonna do when I get home is punch yo mama in the mouth!”