The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent, Tony Farinella.
“The Green Mile” is a special film that can be watched over and over again, and its impact is still felt. In today’s trying times where people are still divided, it’s a healthy reminder of the power of being kind to one another. Frank Darabont had previously tackled the world of prison with “The Shawshank Redemption,” which many people consider one of the greatest films of all time. It has battled for the top spot with “The Godfather” for quite some time on IMDB. While “The Green Mile” is not in the category of “The Shawshank Redemption,” it’s still an incredible film. It has a running time of over three hours, but with a cast and screenplay as good as the one featured in this film, one does not pay attention to the running time.
The film is set in 1935 and follows Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks), a prison guard who overlooks death row inmates. He’s firm but compassionate. His sidekick is Brutus “Brutal” Howell, played by David Morse. They see eye-to-eye on most things, especially when it comes to the evil and heinous Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison), another prison guard with an evil and aggressive side to him because of the fact his aunt is married to the governor. Even though these inmates are on “The Green Mile,” which is where they walk before they are to be executed, Paul has humanity and kindness in a job that is not easy to navigate. Even though they are inmates with varying degrees of crimes committed, he sees them as human beings. This is the strength of Darabont’s film: the heart attached to it. There is also a good deal of humor in the story as well when the scene calls for it.
Everything changes at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary when they meet a large inmate with an even larger heart in John Coffey, played by Michael Clarke Duncan. He has been convicted of raping and killing two white girls. Paul and Brutus, however, have a hard time believing he could be capable of such a crime when they see such a gentle and kind soul inside of him. They also notice he has magical healing powers as well. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker and lesser source material (the film is based on the novel by Stephen King), this could have been very cheesy and hokey. Here, the emotion and the heart, as mentioned earlier, are felt very powerfully. This is a film that makes the audience believe in the goodness of John Coffey and in humanity.
However, it doesn’t shy away from the dark side of the inmates. Not all of them are great human beings. Some of them are downright evil and cruel, such as William “Wild Bill” Wharton who is played by Sam Rockwell. He’s racist, violent, and completely out of control. The film is told in flashback style from the perspective of an older Paul Edgecomb. It’s a sensitive film that really allows the audience to spend time with all of the characters and get to know them. The attention to detail shown here is truly remarkable. Even though the film is filled with happy and sad moments, I tend to think of it more as an uplifting film about life and how fragile it is and how there can be beautiful moments we don’t always believe in at first, but we believe in them when we allow ourselves to really look at what’s happening right in front of us.
“The Green Mile” is now 23 years old, having been released in 1999. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Sound. It did not win any Oscars, but it was another great film released in 1999, a groundbreaking year for cinema. It’s a feel-good movie, yes, but it’s done in a realistic way that doesn’t insult the audience. There have been a lot of prison films in Hollywood, but this is one of the better ones because of the acting, writing, and direction. It’s an emotional film that leaves you with a lot to think about after the credits are done rolling. Now that it’s on 4K, I imagine a lot of people are going to enjoy revisiting this classic.
* * * * out of * * * *
4K/Blu-ray Info: “The Green Mile” is released on a two-disc 4K/Blu-ray combo pack from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. It has a running time of 188 minutes. It is rated R for violence, language, and some sex-related material. The film also comes with a digital code.
Video Info: The 4K is released on 2160p Ultra High Definition, and it is a massive upgrade over the Blu-ray. In 4K, the film really stands out with its vibrant colors and imagery. The Blu-ray is released in 1080p High Definition. While the Blu-ray looks good, the 4K simply looks fantastic. I’m really glad Warner Brothers and other studios are looking into their vaults to re-release classic films in 4K.
Audio Info: The 4K comes in the following audio formats: Dolby Atmos-TrueHD: English, Spanish, and French. The Blu-ray has the following audio formats: Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital: English, French, and Spanish. With 4K releases, I tend to notice the difference in the video more than the audio. The high dynamic range is where it’s at with 4K.
Commentary by Frank Darabont
Walking the Mile: The Making of “The Green Mile” Documentary
Miracle and Mystery: Creating “The Green Mile” Featurette Gallery
Tom Hanks Makeup Tests
Michael Clarke Duncan Screen Test
The Teaser Trailer: A Case Study
Should You Buy It?
I loved this film even more on 4K. It’s an amazing upgrade that is worth every penny. The only downside, which I’ve noticed with a lot of these upgrades, is the fact they are re-releasing the same special features from the Blu-ray. I really wish if they were going to re-release these, they would add some new special features, even if it’s Zoom interviews with various cast and crew members. As a film, it’s absolutely perfect to me. A lot of people see it as a downer, but I see it as a very, very moving and inspirational flick despite some of the subject matter. The performances are great across the board, but the heart and soul of the film is with Michael Clarke Duncan. There are also solid performances from Harry Dean Stanton, Barry Pepper, James Cromwell, Bonnie Hunt, and Patricia Clarkson. It’s an all-star cast for an all-star movie. This is a film which should be a day-one purchase for film lovers.
**Disclaimer** I received a Blu-ray copy of this film from Warner Brothers to review for free. The opinions and statements in the review are mine and mine alone.