A man down on his luck bets his last cent on a trip to Indonesia in hopes of finding an untapped gold mine. Little does he know it would be the find of the century!
The light of golden treasure is a very alluring thing. Sure you can spend your whole life working to earn that cash, but to prospect and discover a gold mine sounds way more fun. In theory anyway. Trying your hand in finding an unknown gold deposit takes a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck. You need miners, engineers, a geologist, and the upfront cash to stake the land and obtain permits. All this is required to just search for the stuff. There are no guarantees for a prospector. He or she can only hope they pick a spot that may have some gold beneath their feet. With great risk though, come great rewards.
Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) comes from a family of prospectors. His grandfather was the first to stick a stake in the side of the Nevada mountain and start looking for gold. From there he started a family-ran business that’s pasted down from generation to generation. Kenny’s father turned the mining company into a profitable business, and passed on his passion and work ethic to his son Kenny. After he passed, Kenny knew he had to make the company his own. Unfortunately for him, the economy had other ideas. The business slowly shrunk and eventually left him living out of his car. He had to sell his house, office, possessions, and pride. This doesn’t stop him from trying to stay afloat though. Sadly, what keeps him afloat is also drowning him. Kenny has an affliction for boozing it up all-day, every day. What’s left of his co-workers spend most days sitting at booths in a local bar, trying to push penny-stocks. They drink throughout the day, and Kenny keeps the party going into the night. At times it’s quite sad to watch. It seems like he’s losing all control. Then one night Kenny has a dream. He’s walking through a lush forest somewhere. It appears to be untouched by man. It’s pure bliss atop one of the mountains, but then Kenny has an epiphany. There’s gold in this jungle, and no one knows it’s there. This is his chance to rise from the depths he’s buried himself in. Kenny wakes up knowing this jungle is his destiny. He just has to find it. In a hastened panic, he recalls a Geologist he met a few years back named Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez). He’s the guy who discovered one of the largest copper deposits ever found. Kenny knows in his gut that Michael is the man who can make his dream a reality. Now all he has to do is figure out where he is and sell him on this crazy treasure-hunt. After he learns of his whereabouts, Kenny realizes he needs some quick cash to back his venture. He pawns his gold watch, gold ring, and even his girlfriend’s watch he stole from her jewelry box. This is everything he has left in the world.
The first meeting between Kenny and Michael is an awkward one. Kenny looks like a mess and is obviously drunk by the time Michael shows up. Michael is very professional, clean cut, classy, and very worrisome of Kenny. Despite his sloppy demeanor, Kenny rolls through his pitch on finding a gold mine. He knows Michael is the guy who can make the discovery, and he’s willing to bring him on as a full partner. Reluctantly, Michael calls him crazy and starts to walk away. He stops however, and decides to show Kenny something he’s found. The two embark on a long journey through the jungle and take a 5-hour boat ride down a river. Along the way, Michael shows Kenny how the locals have been panning the river for tiny gold nuggets for eons. This means there’s gold here. Potentially a lot of gold. As they make their way up a tall mountain, Kenny realizes this is the very jungle he saw in his dream. This is the place they are destined to partner up and start a gold mine. They just need to generate some serious cash so they can start taking core samples. If the cores check out, Kenny and Michael will have a gold mine on their hands.
What sounds like an epic adventure turns into a total nightmare. The cash Kenny and his friends back home have gathered from investors is running out. The workers digging the cores are leaving, and Kenny contracts a bad case of malaria. Worst yet, the samples are coming back negative. There’s no gold to be found. After a few delirious weeks on his death bed, Kenny pleads to Michael. He doesn’t want his last attempt at making a good life end this way. He needs to strike gold. On the day he finally recovers from Malaria, Michael does just that. Not only have they finally stuck gold…they found a lot. So much in fact, this could easily be the greatest gold find of the century!
Think Kenny and his new partner Michael have finally hit the big time? If so, what will happen once the limelight is upon them? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Enough about that…let’s check out what’s included with this Blu-ray release.
The menu design consists of several looping clips from the film. The menu options are listed along the bottom of the screen, and include: Play, Subtitles, Scenes, and Bonus. The ‘Subtitles’ option lets viewers choose between English and Spanish subtitles. This is a fairly slim selection compared to other Blu-ray releases I’ve seen. The ‘Scenes’ option displays four chapters at a time. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene.
Now let’s take a look at the bonus features included with this release.
– Feature Commentary with Director Stephen Gaghan
– Deleted Sequence (5:18 HD): This feature includes a couple of clips that didn’t make the final cut. While the first one was nothing special, the second one was quite interesting. If you enjoyed the film, I’d strongly suggest watching this feature. It shows additional insight between Kenny and Michael.
– The Origins of GOLD (4:37 HD): Director Stephen Gaghan and Writer’s John Zinman and Patrick Massett talk about how they came up with the idea for the film. The hunt for gold sounded like a great idea, so they worked together to come up with the script. What’s interesting about the origins of the film, is how it correlates with the main character (Kenny Wells) in a lot of ways. They were passionate about the script, worked to get it made, couldn’t get folks on board, and even when they did, they backed out. Sound familiar?
– The Locations of GOLD (4:20 HD): This film takes place in three primary locations: Reno, Indonesia, and New York. It was very important for the Producers to make the film look exactly what it was like in the 1980’s, so they made sure the costumes and environments were as close to the real thing as possible. For the jungle scenes, they actually shot in Thailand. They did a lot of research to make sure the locals had the same look and feel as the real miners in those days. The crew had a lot of technical and environmental issues while shooting, but they stuck with it. On the third day of shooting, their entire set was flooded by the rising river. They had to float around in canoes to try and salvage what they could. To make matters worse, they had to rebuild the entire set in another (safer) location, and it had to look exactly the same as the first set. It was a challenging endeavor, but they made it happen.
– Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells (3:45 HD): The cast and crew talk about the incredible commitment Matthew had for the role of Kenny Wells. He gained over 45lbs for the character, and could be found eating multiple cheese burgers and milkshakes first thing in the morning. The dude was living the dream! He even shaved the top of his head to look like he was balding. That’s some solid commitment folks!
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this Blu-ray.
The 1080p HD image comes with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, so there will be black bars along the top and bottom of your HDTV screen. No need to worry though, as the compelling story and epic performance by Matthew McConaughey will make viewers forget all about those pesky black bars. This film takes place during the 1980’s, so the initial color palette is mostly browns, oranges, bland greens, etc. Nevertheless, once the story moves into the Indonesian jungle, the colors really start to pop. It’s worth noting this production was captured on film, so there is grain present throughout. Using film gives the story an aged look as well. This could have been a stylistic choice by the Director.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track does a pretty good job in this transfer. The dialog takes place front and center most of the time, but the rear channels are utilized for ambient sounds of the city/jungle, as well as, the source of several background musical tracks. This is a film about discovery and epic journeys, so viewers can expect to hear some uplifting music every now and then. This is a very well-rounded audio tract that encompasses the viewer throughout the story. Solid marks all around.
Overall, Gold is a really good film. Based on actual events, this film tells the tale of a man searching for his dream. He’s willing to bet it all on chasing that dream too. Best yet, once he finally discovers the biggest gold deposit in history, he receives endless amounts of notoriety and recognition. Everybody wants a piece of the action, and Kenny was willing to please. It’s a damn shame that some greedy folks wanted to take it all from him. This film is about chasing your dreams no matter what the cost. It’s not about money…it’s about discovering GOLD.
Critics were a little hard on this film, but I believe it’s certainly worth your time. Matthew McConaughey offers a spectacular performance and literally transformed his body for the character he portrays. He puts a lot out there too, folks. There’s a scene where Kenny (Matthew McConaughey) has to put his hands on a tiger inside its cage to close a deal. Most viewers will suspect this is some fancy film trickery, but Matthew actually did this. His reaction as he turns around to face his friends is not an act. He was terrified, sweaty, and completely stoked about putting his hands on one of these deadly beasts.
If you’re looking for a new film about adventure, tragedy and chasing dreams; don’t hesitate to check out this film. Pick it up on Blu-ray today!