Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) doesn’t care he met President Kennedy, caught Watergate criminals, won an All American Award, made millions fishing for shrimp, or received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. He just wants the #9 bus to take him to Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), his lifelong girlfriend.
That is all Forrest ever wanted. Everything else, to him, is normal. He lives history, shapes our culture, and is more influential than many of the people he will inspire. He never cares.
That’s a magical quality Forrest Gump carries to its classic status. Gump understands who he is, and suffers for years as a child with a debilitating back condition. That doesn’t stop him from running, or carrying on his life in a remarkable way. He seems to influence everyone he meets, even those people who sit next to him at the bus stop. They are inspired and moved, even if they don’t believe him.
Gump’s life is an adventure, one filled with emotion, tragedy, and laughs. For being a simple man, Forrest is surprisingly complex as a character. It is hard to tell what he is able to process, stunned as people close to him die, but has no problem rescuing his troops from an airstrike in Vietnam.
Hank’s performance is sincere. You can see it in his eyes when he thinks about the implications of something affecting him personally. It is a “deer in headlights” look, as if he cannot take changes in his life. It is important and effective in creating the mindset, or even the lack thereof, that complete a fascinating character. Few films are able to craft such a memorable, iconic fictional person like Forrest Gump.
Initial reactions are a lack of facial detail, and lackluster definition in long shots. The cornfield outside of Jenny’s childhood home is particularly troublesome. Flickering and aliasing are a small bother throughout, although typically in a limited capacity that fades quickly. Print damage is also notable, and while specks and scratches are small, it may be time for a full restoration before it gets worse.
Shots from that iconic bench perform the best and the most consistently. Here, sharpness and facial texture are excellent. Gump’s suit offers some detail, contrast is bright, and image depth is excellent. The rest of the film fights off inconsistency, battling light ringing and drops in general fidelity. Other shots perform admirably, becoming crisp enough to finally make the digital effects for Gary Sinese’s legs slightly visible. For its problems, this is still a stellar effort.
If by chance you have never seen Forrest Gump, be prepared for a massive volume spike in Vietnam. Much of the movie is mixed low for this DTS-HD track, and then ramps up when it comes time to show off the action. The same goes for the hurricane, which is a jolt to your audio system.
That said, these scenes showcase some stunning low-end work. Helicopter blades alone are enough to rock the subwoofer. The explosions of that same scene are incredibly strong and powerful. Oddly, despite a stream of gunfire, surrounds are oddly dim. Activity is never pronounced.
The track is at its best during ambient scenes, including various parties. A New Years event is particularly vibrant. The mix is fine, if not as forceful as one would expect.
Forrest Gump comes loaded on two discs, the first with dual commentaries. Director Robert Zemeckis leads the first, along with producer Steve Starkey and production designer Rick Carter. Producer Wendy Finerman goes solo for her track.
A pop-up feature titled Musical Signposts to History brings on journalist Ben Fong-Torres, director Robert Zemeckis, and music supervisor Joel Sill to discuss the musical selections and their impact on the film.
Disc two is spectacular, including Greenbow Diary, split between fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes stuff and interviews. The Art of Screenplay Adaptation is 27 minutes, looking at how Winston Groom’s novel was adapted and changed. Getting Past Impossible is a detailed look at the effects work, which remains effective to this day.
Little Forrest focuses on Michael Conner Humphreys who played Young Forrest, and shaped Hank’s entire performance. An Evening with Forrest Gump is a panel at USC that runs for an hour, with Hanks and Zemeckis (and others) discussing their time on the movie. Four sections are shoved into the Archival section of the disc, pulled from two-disc DVD. Most of the material is covered elsewhere, although the screen tests are a fun watch.