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A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

 

3:10 to Yuma [Blu-ray DVD]

 

(James Mangold, 2007)

Production: Lionsgate
Video: 1080p - 16:9 - MPEG-4 AVC ( 28Mbps)

2:4:1 aspect ratio

146 minutes
Audio: English PCM Uncompressed 7.1, English Dolby Digital EX 5.1
Subtitles:  English SDH, Spanish, none

Disc: Dual-Layered Blu-Ray (50GBs)
Runtime: 122:24

Extras:

• Audio commentary with director Mangold
• Featurette: Destination Yuma
• Featurette: Outlaws, Gangs and Posses
• Featurette: An Epic explored

• Sea to Shining Sea

• A Conversation with Elmore Leonard
• Seven deleted scenes

• Western Timeline
 

Disc: 50GB Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: January 8th, 2008
Standard Blu-Ray case

Synopsis:
In Arizona in the late 1800s, infamous outlaw Ben Wade and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans, struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the "3:10 to Yuma", a train that will take the killer to trial. On the trail, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each other’s respect. But with Wade’s outfit on their trail — and dangers at every turn — the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man's destiny.

 

 

The Film:

The classic western holds as one of my favorite genres and I was all fired up and ready to dump all over this new adaptation 50 years (and a few months) hence the Glenn Ford/Van Heflin classic helmed by stalwart Delmer Daves - a stellar example if ever there was one. How dare they tread on this hallowed ground? Well, they did... and I'll get re-fitted for my fire-retardant suit to say it's the overachieving kin, the grandson standing on his patriarch's shoulders, of the original.

 

 


Both are based on an Elmore Leonard short story originally published in a 1953 issue of Dime Western magazine (visible on the bedside table in the opening scene of Mangold's film). A small-time rancher agrees to transport a captured outlaw while awaiting a train that will take him to jail in Yuma. It transposes to the rarely sought gem of 'psychological Western'. Desperate men in lean times - some holding to their principles - others brushing aside morality. At the crux of this plot is gaining respect and Christian Bale's Dan Evans and his straight-line ways have given him short shrift in that department. Where Russell Crowe's Ben Wade and his ruthless demeanor have men in his gang that would easily die at his command. The narrative holds the High Noon themes about nobility and justice against-all-odds exceptionally well and director Mangold can't seem to resist overplaying his hand a bit (after all, it's what the machismo-violent desirous public seems to always want) but in the end it's a big winner in my books. Power, courage and fast guns are how the western made its bread-and-butter and 3:10 to Yuma brings that all back with nostalgic, gritty, charm and detailed precision. This film is so good I'll wager it adds another benefit - it should encourage many to see out the stellar 57' original - not to compare but to quench the budding thirst of, hopefully, reviving this endangered species known as the 'Hollywood western'. Let's hope so - especially if they are this good.

 

The Video: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

As anticipated in our SD review, the Blu-ray's 1080P resolution brings further life to this marvelous, modern-Hollywood, western. Perhaps my expectations were too high as I did see some issues with darker lit scenes which tend to look overly heavy - wavering in consistency throughout the film's two fire lit and indoor sequences. There is also some minor background noise but daylight colors have some impressive moments and detail throughout is very strong. The brownish hue present on the SD seems to have been left behind and the gorgeous cinematography holds up very well in the 2.4 widescreen ratio. I'd say that this MPEG-4 AVC Blu-ray transfer dynamically support the film's inherent tension and powerhouse performances to a high degree. If this is as good as the film is going to look on my home theater then I am adequately satisfied.

 

Screen Captures

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio: There is a new uncompressed PCM 7.1 track included as an option with the EX offering. This film presentation greatly benefits from separated audio - be it careening bullets, a steam locomotive or galloping horse hooves. Action and explosive thrill scenes give wonderful support to the film's edgy, suspense-driven narrative. Marco Beltrami's musical scores are fairly limited but sound exceptionally brisk and clean when called upon. I did make note that some of the dialogue, often hushed for impact, seem less audible and I found myself cranking the volume a notch or two to gain perspective. This dialogue is supported by optional English SDH, or Spanish, subtitles.

 


Extras:
There appear to be some add-ons not present in the SD edition which mimic the adept commentary from director Mangold. Not technically stellar but he covers quite a bit of ground. 3 duplicated featurettes - dealing with production, history and a quasi 'making of..' . Finally there the 7 short-ish deleted scenes (BUT IN HD!).

On top of those are Guns of Yuma, a six minute featurette on what 'personal artillery' was chosen, and why, for each character. Sea to Shining Sea looks at the history, development and problems, with the inception of the transcontinental railroad. It runs almost 20 minutes. I was very keen on A Conversation With Elmore Leonard but wished it was longer than the limited 5 minutes. He talks about selling his stories and how popular the western shorts were back in his days as a young writer ('the only publication not buying them was the Ladies Home Journal').

There is also a 'Blu-line' feature that you could access and disengage with the four color buttons of your remote. To be honest I had some trouble getting this to work properly for me and don't have much to say about its usage. It sounded promising though.    

Menus

 

BOTTOM LINE: I've already extolled the film - hoping it will rejuvenate the historical western genre for modern audiences. Although my stratospheric expectations were not quite met for the image - it still represents an impressive presentation which, by the way, I've watched three times now. The Blu-ray DVD with strong extras, looks and sounds great - the best way to see this riveting film in the comfort of your home. This will be the best presentation of this film on DVD.

Gary Tooze

 

 

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