Blu-ray Review Sling Blade
Directed by: Billy Bob Thornton Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T Walsh, John Ritter, Lucas Black Running Time: 2 hr 15 mins Rating: R
Plot: A man (Thornton) is released from a mental institution in Arkansas and makes friends with a boy he meets at a laundromat (Black).
Who's It For? Those who like to keep track of classic acting performances, or even the people who want to own every film that ever won an Oscar for "Best Adapted Screenplay." Regardless, Sling Blade is a 1990's classic, and checking it out for the first time through High Definition isn't a bad idea.
Billy Bob Thornton’s first directed film is filmed and acted with subtlety, with a desperation to be as intelligent and arthouse as possible (long wide shots and a score by Daniel Lanois that seems ahead of its time doesn’t hurt either). Acting and directing are highly capable departments for Thornton, but a vast difference is seen with Sling Blade’s script, which constantly winks at its audience with obvious metaphors placed in a very predictable course of events. Characters not named Karl are for the most part too simple, like Dwight Yoakam’s ignorant a**hole Doyle, whose destiny is sealed the moment he meets the protective ex-convict. The slow story doesn’t say too much in the big picture, but it does allow those optimistic about Sling Blade to try to take something out of a simple story about a simple man trying to assimilate into the complicated “reality” he knows no better of.
Nevertheless, Thornton has a great passion for the story, even if such feelings only seem to float around like the feather in Forrest Gump for his intellectually underestimated audience.
The Return of Karl - A brief look at Thornton monologuing as Karl in a three minute rehearsal.
On the Set - Home video footage of Thornton and company at work, showing how the actor/director can make dime turns when it comes to switching job caps. Thornton was able to change from the carefully operating director to the character of Karl at the sound of the words "rolling!".
A Conversation with BIlly Bob Thornton and Composer Daniel Lanois - The music is one of the most unique features in Sling Blade, and here it is discussed in detail how Lanois came about the project, what ideas he had for the score, and even how they were recorded. Lanois performs one of the songs, "Omni," on a peddle steel guitar in the beginning of the special feature.
A Conversation with Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Duvall - The two actors share a couple of stories of how they met, neither of them particularly important to the Sling Blade story. However, if you've ever wondered why Robert Duvall did play Karl's father in the film, this extra feature has your answer.
Mr. Thornton Goes To Hollywood Brave Profiles: Billy Bob Thornton A Roundtable Discussion with Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, Mikey Jones and Producer David Bushell A Conversation with Robert Duvall "Doyle's Dead" - With introduction by Billy Bob Thornton
Extras Score: 8/10
As if watching the Oscar-winning film Sling Blade did not educate us about the talent that Thornton has, this Blu-Ray is loaded with extras that offer insight into his skill and potential as a filmmaker. The film that this Blu-Ray wonderfully restores to a crystal clear picture still has its flaws, but its many detailed special features are indicative of the point that this is a special film - certainly one of unique presentation and one created with a lot of Arkansas soul.
Final Score: 7/10