…And Justice For All (Special Edition) – DVD Review

...And Justice For All
Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

Director

Norman Jewison

Cast

Al Pacino ………. Arthur Kirkland
Jack Warden ………. Judge Francis Rayford
John Forsythe ………. Judge Henry T. Fleming
Lee Strasberg ………. Sam Kirkland
Jeffrey Tambor ………. Jay Porter
Christine Lahti ………. Gail Packer
Sam Levene ………. Arnie
Robert Christian ………. Ralph Agee

The Movie

Al Pacino has accomplished one of the rarest of feats; he has become two entirely different actors for two generations. For someone past the age of 50, Al Pacino was the star of The Godfather and Panic in Needle Park. He was a man whose intensity was smoldering, always in control on that level of intensity few can effectively muster. He was one of the eloquent thespians of his generation, the man who earned Academy Award nominations by being on that edge in films like Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico.

For anyone 35 and under, Al Pacino is one of the bombastic elder statesmen who can command an audience’s attention by sheer power of will. From Scent of a Woman on, Pacino was an actor who demanded attention by screaming like a banshee in raw, guttural performances. The Pacino of a current generation is the man from HEAT and Two for the Money, an actor who’s ability to command attention is made through sheer force of will and presence. In an era where Pacino and his counterparts from the era (Robert De Niro, Jon Voight, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, etc) still garner leading roles because of the lack of true leading actors, it’s interesting to see Pacino in his youth (before cigarettes radically altered his voice, as well).

With the advent of DVD, his generation of actors has been given a rare opportunity to have their work released for a brand new generation of viewers, with enhance audio/visual capabilities, so that the breadth of their work can be appreciated. …And Justice For All is one of those roles, earning him an Oscar nomination (losing to Dustin Hoffman in Kramer vs. Kramer).

Pacino is Arthur Kirkland, attorney at law, and one of the best attorneys in Baltimore, MD. When Judge Fleming (John Forsythe) is arrested on a rape charge, Kirkland is asked to represent him against what are presumed to be false charges. Kirkland and Fleming are not on the best of terms, but after some pressure he’s thrown into the case feet first. It’s a character study about a man forced to do something he doesn’t want to and yet desperately trying to succeed. As he goes through the travails of the legal system, he slowly loses his grip on it all as the system seemingly conspires against everything he holds to be good and true.

And while Pacino is dynamite in the role, the film has not aged as well as some of Pacino’s other work from the era. Whereas Serpico remains timeless because of its content and tight script, …And Justice For All has become a bit melodramatic and preachy. Everyone has a point to make and there’s not a lot of subtlety involved in making it. It’s disappointing because the film is plotted quite well; it’s a character story that would still remain one of Pacino’s signature films of the decade.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a Dolby Digital format with a widescreen presentation, …And Justice for All has been significantly upgraded for this new release. It’s not that great, but it’s still an improvement. There’s some noticeable grain on the picture, for starters, and the audio is a bit spotty at times. It’s a marked improvement, obviously, but only goes from being merely a bad transfer to an above average one.

The Extras

Norman Jewison: Testimony of the Director is a twelve minute piece where Jewison discusses seven different aspects of the film, albeit briefly. It runs about 12 minutes with some insight into the film, but not as much as there could’ve been. One gets the feeling that Jewison could’ve spoken on the subjects for a lot longer than was shown.

Barry Levinson: Cross Examining the Screenwriter is the same piece that Jewison did, except with the screenwriter of the film discussing different aspects of the film. It runs around the same length, but again there’s the feeling that Levinson had more to say.

Four Deleted Scenes are included, albeit horribly grainy. They don’t add much back to the film.

A Commentary from Jewison is included as well as the original Theatrical Trailer.

Previews for Season 1 of Damages, Taxi Driver (Limited Collector’s Edition), We Own the Night and the 30th Anniversary edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind are included.

The pilot episode of Damages is included as an extra on the disc as well. It’s an interesting show, for those who watch on a regular basis, about character in a similar situation as the film.

There’s a Behind the Scenes Sneak Peek at 88 Minutes, Pacino’s new flick, as well as a coupon to see it by virtue of purchasing the DVD. The feature runs about 10 minutes and is mainly a fluff piece.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for …And Justice For All (Special Edition)
CATEGORY RATING(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

8.0
THE VIDEO

6.5
THE AUDIO

6.5
THE EXTRAS

5.0
REPLAY VALUE

7.5
OVERALL 7.0(NOT AN AVERAGE)