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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Blackthorn [Blu-ray]


(Mateo Gil, 2011)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Arcadia Motion Pictures

Video: Magnolia



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:42:22.302

Disc Size: 48,321,640,413 bytes

Feature Size: 30,287,204,352 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 20th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3441 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3441 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (forced for Spanish dialogue), English (SDH), Spanish, none



Deleted Scenes (22:24 in 1080P)

• Making of Blackthorn (10:27 in 1080P)

• Two Short Films directed by  Mateo Gil (Breaking and Entering 17:26 - Say Me - 15:05 - both in 1080P)

• HDNet - A Look at Blackthorn (4:57 in 1080i)

• Blackthorn Trailer (2:25 in 1080P)

BD-Live and Bookmark ability





Description: It's been said that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In BLACKTHORN, Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the U.S. and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. But when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal (Eduardo Noriega) derails his plans, he is thrust into one last adventure, the likes of which he hasn't experienced since his glory days with the Sundance Kid.



The Film:

"Blackthorn" takes the buddy movie outlaw mythology and glamour of the Newman-Redford classic and guts it like a fish.

In its place is a bleak, violent, revisionist neo-"western" (shot in Bolivia), where an aged and fugitive Butch (Sam Shepard), now old and alone, thinks of making one last trip to the States.

Wait . . . didn't Cassidy die at the hands of the Bolivian army? Not so, says "Blackthorn" - its premise is that Butch and Sundance managed to stage their own deaths, and live for a time beyond the reach of the Pinkerton (Stephen Rea) who continued to pursue them south of the border.

"Blackthorn" flashes back to this backstory from time to time, then forward to the elderly Butch, now a horse rancher with an Andean girlfriend and, after awhile, a new "partner" - Eduardo Noriega, himself a fugitive from mining interests whose money he's stolen.

Excerpt from Gary Thomspin at the Daily Philadelphia news located HERE

In the opening scenes of "Blackthorn," the old desperado who gives this mostly satisfying western its name is bent over a letter, writing of coming back home to the U.S. Though he's grown gray, he remains split-rail hard, suffers no fools — he's still plenty fiery too, if the girl in his bed is any indication. Naturally, the character is played by Sam Shepard, who wears the dust, the boots, the bravado and the rest as if they were designed for him alone.

Excerpt from Betsy Sharkey of the LA Times located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Blackthorn looks great on Blu-ray if still displaying smidgeon of the waxiness of the HD camera used. The scenery shot in La Paz, Potosí and Uyuni in Bolivia has some incredibly impressive moments. Detail and colors are wonderfully rendered in 1080P.  This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and probably exports the film experience as dynamically as a theatrical viewing. Daylight scenes are crystal clear and dominate the film and there is plenty of depth. This is one of the most pleasing visuals efforts I have seen this year. It comes through beautifully on Blu-ray. This is a great looking film and a equally superb video quality via the AVC-transferred disc.



















Audio :

I don't recall hearing anything from Lucio Godoy before but his original score here on Blackthorn supports this deceptively strong western extremely well. It sounds crisp all-around and the effects (gunshots) have an intensity that will make you jump. The DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3441 kbps handles the film's aggression and subtleties effectively. There are subtitle choices that allow the Spanish dialogue translated to English, or the entire film via SDH and also a Spanish text option. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Supplements include 22-minutes of interesting deleted scenes in 1080P for those who couldn't get enough of the film. There is a standard Making of Blackthorn featurette running 10.5-minutes with interviews and some behind-the-scenes footage. What I enjoyed were two short films directed by director Mateo Gil. The first is entitled Breaking and Entering and runs 17-minutes and the second is a little more artsy called 'Say Me' about relationships, selfishness etc. and it lasts 15-minutes. Both are in HD. Included is a 5-minute 'Look at Blackthorn' via HDNet that always seems to accompany Magnolia releases. Lastly is a 2.5-minute trailer and the disc has both BD-Live and Bookmark-able features.



I thoroughly enjoyed this western as an interesting throwback to the classics of the genre. We touch on features of a road picture, a buddy-escape adventure (not unlike the original Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) as well allowing the timeline to drift back nostalgically to the young Butch, Sundance and Etta Place. The beautiful terrain dwells just long enough to allow some contemplative moments and Shepard is magnificent as the survivalist leader. Really, many critics missed this one - I can't wait to re-watch it. The Magnolia Blu-ray is a fabulous package with stellar visuals, dynamic audio and some worthwhile supplements. I give this a huge recommendation!

Gary Tooze

December 7th, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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