Blu-ray Movie Review
from Kino Lorber
October 26, 2015
There have been several Stephen King movies made for television and in theaters. Generally speaking, you'll come up short of a Stephen King ambience when watching many of them. There are a few movies, and I do mean a few, which manage to do ok and somewhat live up to the mind of their original author. Needful Things is one of those movies which does succeed in delivering a tale of a being who enjoys watching others harming each other, gaining strength from adversity and conflict.
Leland Gaunt (Max Von Sydow) is his current name, but over the centuries, he's had many. His reason for visiting the rather small and harmless town of Castle Rock? Manipulation. Leland goes from town to town, stirring up conflict, and when the conflict reaches its maximum potential, Leland reaps the rewards of the tragedy which results. In all cases, these tragedies end in death, and the towns are mostly forgotten.
Leland Gaunt sets up a special store which deals with antiques. What might appear to be a complete worthless object to one person is an unquenched symbol of desire to others — or what Leland would want you to believe, that is. The store is aptly called Needful Things, and instantly perks the interests of the Castle Rock residents.
Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Ed Harris), who is a humble man but not unaware of nefarious intentions due to being a former law enforcement officer from a much larger city, senses there just isn't something right about the situation, and cautiously gets to know the new storeowner.
Leland is also aware of the Sheriff's caution, and knows the Sheriff has a reason for escaping to a small town. About to marry Polly Chalmers (Bonnie Bedelia), who works at the diner, Leland begins a rather complicated web of manipulating the town into initially doing small pranks against each other, but soon escalate into violence and murder.
Packaging for Needful Things came to me in the always classy VIVA Elite Blu-ray case (12.5mm).
Video & Screencaps
I was hoping for an above-average improvement from Needful Things from Kino Lorber, but at only 20.94 Mbps @ 1.85:1, there's just not enough bandwidth to offer a presentation I would be satisfied with. Why KL sticks with BD-25 discs is a little concerning, as there are many films which need the extra space, especially if the aspect ratio takes up the entire screen...which means more data per second...which means more required bandwidth. If you're upgrading from a DVD, you probably won't notice a difference on a smaller television (32" for example), but if you have a 50" or larger, having this release on Blu-ray will help maintain the quality to the larger viewing size.
Audio for Needful Things does sound muffled in some areas and this is probably due to its age. Once again, I have to say at least Kino Lorber didn't decide to do an "enhancement" soundtrack which we all know would have sounded ridiculous. For what is offered, the soundtrack is reasonable, but there are cases where explosions and other situations which require more dynamics are hard to discern.
Main Audio Track: DTS-HD Master 2.0 1656Kbps (48kHz/16-bit)
Audio Track #2 (Commentary): English DTS-HD Master 2.0 1649Kbps (48kHz/16-bit)
Extras for Needful Things were non-existent, except for a theatrical trailer. There is a feature-length audio commentary by Director Fraser Clarke Heston which is certainly worth listening to.
Original Trailer (2:02) HD
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Active Pixel Area: 1920 x 1038 pixels
Inactive Pixel Area: 1920 x 42 pixels
Needful Things Bitrate Graph
Disc Name: NEEDFUL THINGS
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Disc Size: 23,778,455,257 bytes (22.14 GB)
Movie Size: 23,490,791,424 bytes (21.88 GB)
Overall Bitrate: 25.90 Mbps
Video Bitrate: 20.94 Mbps
In my opinion Needful Things is one of the better-paced films that could ever stand a chance at representing a Stephen King book. Indeed, it is certainly NOT what you would get if reading the book, and I recommend buying the book if you enjoyed this movie as you'll envision and embed the characters from the movie...into the author's printed masterpiece.
One of the better movies put on the screen, and while not perfect, it's satisfying to see some major characters in roles which exploited their talents. Thus, Needful Things (Blu-Ray) receives a RECOMMENDED PLUS.
The 3-Hour (180+ Minute) Cut
It is unfortunate there could not be the 3-hour cut on this Kino release, but viewers should be aware Director Fraser Clarke Heston says he would love to a Director's Cut, but it would only be an additional 10 or 15 minutes. Heston feels the 3-hour cut was just too long, so even if a longer cut was wanted, viewers would more than likely never get the ~186-minute version on Blu-ray.
For more information, I highly recommend fans listen to the included feature-length audio commentary, which explains a lot about the 2-hour and 3-hour versions.
Codec / Resolution: MPEG-4 AVC / 1080p
From: Kino Lorber
Theatrical Release: August 27, 1993
This Release: June 23, 2015
Region: Region A/1
MPAA Rating: R
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 121 mins
Number Of Discs: 1
Current Price (USA): Check Price
Max von Sydow as Leland Gaunt
Ed Harris as Sheriff Alan Pangborn
Bonnie Bedelia as Polly Chalmers
Amanda Plummer as Nettie Cobb
J.T. Walsh as Danforth Keeton III
Ray McKinnon as Deputy Norris Ridgewick
Duncan Fraser as Hugh Priest
Shane Meier as Brian Rusk
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