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Gold (2016)

The Weinstein Company
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/2/2017

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 4/25/2017

We've spoken in the past about how Hollywood is obsessed with true stories and biopics. This trend has gotten out of control and it appears that filmmakers are now determined to completely forsake fiction films. OK, maybe that's an overstatement, but there's no denying that we are inundated with "based on" movies and the Oscars have gotten out of control is praising these movies. The bright spot here is that some of these films can bring to light interesting individuals and stories which may have escaped the zeitgeist. Despite some stumbling early on, Gold eventually fulfills that promise.

The year is 1988 and Kenny Wells (Matthew McConaughey) is down on his luck. His father's once thriving mineral prospecting company has been reduced to a group of guys who work out of a bar hoping to squeeze a few dollars out of potential investors. Feeling that he's run out of options, Kenny pawns his girlfriend Kay's (Bryce Dallas Howard) gold watch (irony!) and heads to Indonesia in search of a geologist named Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez). Acosta has a theory about how deposits can be found by studying seismology, but he's not popular with his peers. Therefore, despite Wells' desperation and disheveled appearance, he agrees to work with the man. The two travel deep into the jungle where Acosta is convinced they will find something, and, sure enough, weeks later, they strike gold. While Wells travels back to the United States to drum up support for their project, Acosta continues to find significant amounts of gold, a find which may be the largest in history. But, Wells will soon learn that a small-time player like himself can't suddenly make the jump into the big leagues with ruffling some feathers.

Gold is an interesting project that plays like three movies in one. First of all, as noted above, it explores a real-life story from the 1990s, which most likely made some headlines, but I certainly don't remember it. Do yourself a favor and do not look up the true story before seeing the film, as knowing the truth will most definitely ruin the overall effect. As with any biopic worth its salt, it takes us inside of a world which is unfamiliar to most of us. Sure, we know that gold comes out of mines, but I had no idea that people sat in offices in the U.S. and tried to raise capital in order to go looking for gold. Not unlike The Big Short, the movie shows us that there are a lot of white men behind the scenes controlling a lot of the economy.

With the story of Kenny Wells, we get the tale of a man who can't get a break. From the outset, the balding, chain-smoking Kenny comes across as a hustler. The fact that he's willing to sell Kay's jewelry to fund his trip and that there's always a look of desperation in his eyes doesn't make Kenny an easy character to like or trust. Even when he gets deathly ill from being in the jungle, Kenny is a hard character to like. Gold is definitely taking a risk with presenting us with a character like this. Throughout the film, I kept getting the feeling that the movie wanted to me to side with Kenny, but it was nearly impossible, as he went from a slimy poor guy to a slimy rich guy who suddenly get too big for his britches and became unbearable.

However, it's the twist which makes the film worth watching. Again, I don't want to give anything away, but the sudden shift in the story really saves the movie. For the first two acts, the movie is sort of interesting, as it shows us a world which most of us don't know, but there's nothing truly special about it. In many ways, it reminded me of The Wolf of Wall Street, with it's "hustler gets rich" storyline. The twist takes the movie to a different place, and you realize that Director Stephen Gaghan has been lulling us into a false sense of complacency. He does slip up one time with an editing choice which I suppose is meant to foreshadow the twist, but only comes across as confusing. Gold is yet another Weinstein release which just sort of appeared with no overt support or fanfare. The movie is more than it appears to be and will certainly appeal to those who like movies that explore the world of finance and business.

Gold shows that McConaughey is a chameleon on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, most notably the green jungles, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the landscape shots show a nice amount of depth. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music features an eclectic soundtrack of 80s music, which sounds great, especially the chugging guitars of the song by Big Dipper. From the jungle and the office scenes, we get some notable stereo and surround effects.

The Gold Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Stephen Gaghan. "The Origins of Gold" (5 minutes) has Gaghan and Writers John Zinman & Patrick Massett talk about the development of the film and they mention the real-life story, but we don't get any details on it. "The Locations of Gold" (4 minutes) takes us to the set in Thailand to see the film being shot. "Matthew McConaughey as Kenny Wells" (4 minutes) has the actor describing his character. The Disc contains one DELETED SCENE which runs about 5 minutes.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long