Silverado (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 6, 2009 by  

“From the man who wrote ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and Star Wars films ‘Empire Strikes  Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ comes a Western featuring a brilliant cast, beautiful cinematography and a story that is captivating from beginning to end.  ‘Silverado’ finally gets its High Definition on Blu-ray treatment and is the definitive version of the film to own!”

Images courtesy of © 1985 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Silverado

DURATION: 132 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English, Portuguese and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese

COMPANY:  Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Release Date: September 15, 2009

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan

Written by Lawrence Kasdan and Mark Kasdan

Executive Producer by  Michael Grillo and Charles Okun

Produced by Lawrence Kasdan

Associate Producer: Mark Kasdan

Music by Bruce Broughton

Cinematography by John Bailey

Edited by Carol Littleton

Casting by Wallis Nicita

Production Design by Ida Random

Art Direction by William A. Elliott

Set Decoration by Anne D. McCulley, Arthur Jeph Parker

Costume Design by Kristi Zea


Kevin Kline as Paden

Scott Glenn as Emmett

Kevin Costner as Kake

Danny Glober as Malachi “Mal” Johnson

John Cleese as Sheriff John T. Langston

Rosanna Arquette as Hannah

Jeff Goldblum as “Slick” Calvin Stanhope

Brian Dennehy as Sheriff Cobb

Linda Hunt as Stella

Ray Baker as Ethan McKendrick

Get ready for some horse-ridin’, gun-totin’, whiskey-drinkin’ fun in this digitally remastered collector’s edition of Lawrence Kasdan’s SILVERADO, featuring a never-before-seen featurette with interviews from the cast and the filmmakers! The spirited Western stars Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Kevin Costner, and Danny Glover as four unwitting heroes who cross paths on their journey to the sleepy townof Silverado. Little do they know the town where their family and friends reside has been taken over by a corrupt sheriff and a murderous posse. It’s up to the sharp-shooting foursome to save the day, but first they have to break each other out of jail, and learn who their real friends are. Thanks to its authentic look and spectacular cast, which also includes Rosanna Arquette, John Cleese, BrianDennehy, Jeff Goldblum, and Oscar(r)-winner Linda Hunt (1983 Best Supporting Actress, The Year of Living Dangerously), this exciting Old West adventure created a whole new generation of Western fans and earned its “modern classic” status.

Entertaining, well-written and overall a well-directed film with an all-star cast… “Silverado” is fantastic Western film.

From the late 1970’s to mid-1980’s, there was a glut of Western films.  But in 1985, the Western known as “Silverado” took America by storm and was nominated for four Academy Awards.  Directed and written by Lawrence Kasdan (“Wyatt Earp”, “The Big Chill”, “Raiders of the Lost Arc”, “Star Wars: Epiosde V – The Empire Strikes Back”) and co-written by Mark Casdan, the Casdan’s were joined by composer Bruce Broughton (“Tiny Toon Adventures”, “Infinity” and “Lost in Space”) and cinematographer John Bailey (“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days”, “Mad Money, “The Producers” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”).

“Silverado” would feature an all-star cast which included Kevin Kline (“Wild Wild West”, “The Pink Panther”, “The Big Chill” and “A Fish Called Wanda”), Scott Glenn (“Training Day”, “Vertical Limit”, “Freedom Writers” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”), Kevin Costner (“Field of Dreams”, “Untouchables”, “JFK”, “The Bodyguard” and Wyatt Earp”), Danny Glober (“Lethal Weapon” films, “Borthers & Sisters”, “ER”, “Dreamgirls”), Brian Dennehy (“Our Fathers, “Ratatouille”, “Romeo & Juliet”), Rosanna Arquette (“What About Brian”, “The L World”, “Pulp Fiction”), John Cleece (“Monty Python” films, “Fawlty Towers”, “A Fish Called Wanda”) and Linda Hunt (“The Unit”, “The American Experience”, “The Practice” and “Carnivale”).

“Silverado” focuses on four outlaws:

Emmet (Scot Glenn) – A man who served five years in prison by shooting a man (father of the McKendrick family) in self defense.  McKendrick was trying to kill his younger brother Jake by shooting him in the back.  In the beginning of the film, two men try to kill him.  He doesn’t know why but he knows that their horses have a brand of two diamonds.  Wants to meet up with his brother Jake and go back to their town of Silverado.  Very accurate shooter.

Paden (Kevin Kline) – A good man who was beaten and left for dead in the desert.  Emmet saved his life and the two decide to go to Silverado.  His friend Cobb (Brian Dennehy) wants him to join his group but Paden has no interest.  Very accurate shooter but a person who tends to see the good in people.

Jake (Kevin Costner) – Young brother of Emmet.  Very cocky and loud but good with the women.  He is being held in prison in the town of Turley for murdering a man.  Known for being good at riding horses and shooting with his pistols.

Mal (Danny Glover) – A man who has had a hard life because he is Black.  Wants to head to Silverado to meet with his father and sister.  Known for being a perfect shooter with a shotgun.  Mal joins the three men after helping them escape from authorities from Turley.

As the four men work together due to circumstances, once they arrive at Silverado, all is not good.

For Mal, his father (despite paying for the land and outright owning it), the popular McKendrick family has been pushing him out by occupying his land with their own animals.  Mal finds out that his father has been bullied, his mother died of sickness and his sister is now a saloon girl at Silverado.  And to make things worse, while he was sleeping, the McKendrick’s not liking how father and son are trying to protect their land, end up murdering Mal’s father.  Mal wants revenge but he wants his sister’s help, unfortunately his sister wants nothing to do with him.

For Paden, being the man who loves saloons and women, he loves the look of the Silverado saloon known as the Midnight Star ran by Stella (Linda Hunt), but what shocks him even more is the owner of the saloon which turns out to be his friend Cobb.  To make things even more surprising, Cobb is the sheriff of Silverado.  But Cobb shows his bad side when he kills the man responsible for the saloons finances and has Paden work in his place (since Paden owes him money).

As for Emmett and Jake, all was good until the point that a family event they were at, a group of men on horseback with guns start freeing the animals and wrecking everything in sight.  But it’s when Ethan McKendrick (the son of the man that Emmet killed) finds out that both Emmet and Jake are in town, McKendrick conspires with Cobb (who is under the payroll of the McKenderick’s) to have Emmett, Jake and Mal killed.

“Silverado” is a tale of four lawful outlaws who team up with each other once again under dire circumstances against the town’s corrupt sheriff and his men and also the powerful McKenderick family.

As for the Blu-ray release, as “Silverado” is a Columbia Pictures classic, as a few classics from Sony, gets the special Digibook release (not in typical blue clamshell but a book-style format) which features a 38-page booklet that includes information on the filming of “Silverado”, information on the film’s talent, plus images from the film and theatrical posters.


“Silverado” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1).  For the most part, the film is definitely a mix-bag.  For a film that was shown in theaters back in 1985, the scenery of where the film is very beautiful.  But in the opening shots alone, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are viewers who may find the opening scenes as too grainy and a bit aged.  Blacks are nice and deep and skin tones are natural.  The fact, that a lot of the film is shot outdoors and giving that sense of a vibrant Western era and its natural element is captured quite beautifully.  From the mountains to the blue skies and the animals, I enjoyed how the filmmakers really captured that look and feel of the late 1800’s.  Suffice to say that cinematographer John Bailey did a wonderful job.

While most of the film looks very good and detail of the West can be seen quite well via High Definition, as a person who likes to see grain in their Blu-ray releases and no DNR (digital noise reduction), I acknowledge that this is one of those films on Blu-ray that will definitely have film fans of both sides of the picture quality fence supporting or not supporting the grainy appearance of the film.  And personally, I do feel this is the best looking version of “Silverado” to date (and obviously surpassing the quality of the 2005 Superbit DVD release) and is the best release of Silverado to date.

Audio is presented in English, French and Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (and Spanish 5.1).  The lossless audio quality features a lot of the primary dialogue coming through the front and center channels but there is a good use of panning through the surround channels as bullets whizzing from left to right.  For the most part, the gunshots do come alive during the film and dialogue is quite clear and understandable.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese.


“Silverado” comes with the following special features that are in Standard Definition, English audio and feature subtitles in Spanish and Portuguese:

  • Along the Silverado Trail: A Western Historians’ Commentary – The commentary are done by two Western historians.  For the most part, both men are quite knowledgeable when it comes to Westerns and lend their own personal opinions of this film and relation to other Westerns.  I always find it interesting when people plug their own events during a commentary, when who knows when people will listen to the commentary.  But nevertheless, interesting commentary and I do agree with some of the points that they had for the film.  The following commentary is new for this Blu-ray release.
  • The Making of Silverado – (37:01) The cast and crew of “Silverado” discuss how certain scenes were made for the film and also how they had to decrease the duration and certain scenes were cut and some regrets of not furthering storylines (ie. Rosanna Arquette’s character).
  • A Return to Silverado with Kevin Costner – (21:01) Kevin Costner talks about the film, how he got the part, the people he worked with and mostly a complimentary featurette for the director.  Also, certain scenes during shooting that he never understood at the time but understands now.
  • movieiQ – For those with a BD-Live enabled Blu-ray player (profile 2.0), when selecting this option, a panel shows up during the watching of the film and people can access cast, crew, music and production information.

“Silverado” is a modern, stylized-Western with an impressive cast with ambitious filmmaking (the film took 96 days to film) and at the time, it had been quite long while for a Western to show up on the big screen.  So, for the most part, “Silverado” was a Western that many people watched and enjoyed and for the most part, it was good timing.

The storytelling of Lawrence and Mark Kasdan is top-notch and suffice to say, there was a lot of hype around Kasdan’s name as he was the guy who wrote the “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi” and “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” film.  Suffice to say, Lawrence Kasdan was a very much respect screenwriter and as a director, many people appreciated  his work on “The Big Chill” and “Body Heat”.

But what makes “Silverado” so enjoyable are its characters.  Emmet and Jake, the two brothers are so different from each other but yet Emmet brings us that stoic cowboy, while Jake is almost a comedic but cool kind of guy.  With Paden, almost like an everyman type of role.  Cool, calm and reserved and for the role of Mal, it was quite interesting to see an African-American in the film but also to see a little bit of how racism affected the character.  But to bring these four characters together, definitely made up for a fun and entertaining film.

Although I did enjoy the film, I do feel that the film had some problems.  The relationship with Rosanna Arquette’s Hannah and Scott Glenn’s Emmett really goes nowhere.  In fact, you will learn in the special features that after the film came out, some have wished that they could have explored more of Arquette’s character because it was underused.  Also, Jeff Goldblum’s character as “Slick”, we don’t really know the motivation of his character unless he was much closer to Cobb than we know of.   After watching the film, it makes you wonder how much of his footage was cut from the film.

As for those who own the Superbit DVD version, sure this Blu-ray release may not come with the playing cards but it does come with a commentary and a booklet with far more pages and most importantly a High Definition transfer and lossless audio.  This release easily becomes the definitive version to own.  Granted, the film was nearly three hours at first but was cut down to 132 minutes.  With that being said, it would have been nice to see those deleted scenes (which were briefly shown in the “making of” featurette”) included on this Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Silverado” is one of those films that continually has action and makes you wonder which direction the film is going to go and who is going to die.  You rarely get bored and for the most part, the film was quite entertaining.  For me, I kind of liken it to a film as enjoyable like John Wayne’s “El Dorado” – a film with a great cast of characters, enjoyable storyline and a lot of action.

Granted, although “Silverado” may not be as deep as a modern Western such as “Unforgiven”, it’s definitely a film that was enjoyable from beginning to end and have wished for decades that there would have been a sequel created.

Nevertheless, if you are a big fan of this film, “Silverado” may not be hailed as a Western classic but for a modern Western, it’s one of my favorite Westerns created within the last 25 years.  Definitely recommended!

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