AppaloosaWarner Bros. (Blu-ray)
In Marshal Virgil Cole and deputy Everett Hitch's line of work, you shoot quick, you shoot clean, and you reload straightaway. No remorse. No looking back. No feelings. Feelings get you killed. Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen stand together as longtime friends and for-hire peacekeepers Cole and Hitch in this character-driven, bullet-hard Western based on Robert B. Parkers novel. As the woman who arrives in town with only a dollar and a keen sense of survival, Renee Zellweger adds feelings - those things that get you killed - to a quest to bring murderer Randall Bragg to justice.
Westerns are few and far between these days and the good ones are even rarer. Thankfully this one fits the genre nicely. The tone of the film is a bit different from the traditional take on the west but it adds a nice fresh feel to it. If I had to complain about anything it would probably be the score, which didn’t feel completely right to me during the film. Otherwise I loved the character work and intensity this one brings to the screen.
I was a bit disappointed with this one on Blu-ray. Immediately I noticed that the image had a softer look that was devoid of the finest details we see from the better HD transfers out there. That trend continued on throughout the film. Depth and dimension were pretty good but the image lacked the sharpness so often on display with good HD. Contrast and color definition were strong and shadow detail was never lacking but it was hard to ignore the obvious softness in the image.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and delivers great dynamics and crisp detail in the action scenes. This isn’t quite as intense as Open Range in sound design, but it still had a nice sense of realism in the action sequences. The track has a very open quality to it with good use of the surround soundstage and I found the balance of elements to be nearly perfect. The score didn’t seem to fit quite as nicely as most westerns I’ve seen though, it just seemed a bit off.
Extras include a feature commentary with the director along with the producer. There are also a few features on the history of Appaloosa and trying to stay faithful to the story and history of the area. Some deleted scenes are also included.
Overall this is a great addition to a genre that rarely makes it way to the big screen anymore. I wish the video presentation was a bit better but I wouldn’t call it horrible by any means. If you’re a fan of westerns, definitely give this one a look.