Long Riders, The (UK - BD RB)
Our Marcus long rides with this Western on Blu-ray disc but keeps it technical...
Walter Hill's classic take on the Western follows the exploits of the infamous Jesse James / Cole Younger gang, the brothers all famously played by real-life siblings the Keachs, Carradines, Quaids and Guests.
In post-Civil War America this legendary band of outlaws blaze a trail across the west, culminating in the infamous Northfield, Minnesota bank raid and of the most acclaimed and explosive limaxes ever committed to film. With stunning cinematography, an evocative Ry Cooder soundtrack and the inspiration drawn from John Ford to Sam Peckinpah, Walter Hill's The Long Riders is an elegiac portrait of a bygone era and one of the last great Westerns of the 20th Century. (From the Official Synopsis)
The soft TV style visuals that are very 80s in appearance look pretty lousy in the film's opening credits. There's lots of grubby grain and dirt within the frame and it was an initial worry.
Cutting to the guns blazin' bank robbery that opens the story, the visuals still feel distinctly 80s TV in appearance, with fake looking sets and pretty bland lighting but there's a distinct improvment over what was seen in the credit sequence. Throughout the film, detail and edges range between sharp edged and brightly lit, to soft and unimpressive and the same goes with colour, which most of the time is quite washed out, but other times has a warmer tanned feel. Rather strange for and HD presentation, the interior scenes have more of an HD pop than the naturally lit exterior scenes. The wide open grass covered landscapes always feel quite overcast when it comes to sunlight and comes with a layer of grain, so this really pulls the film back from popping off of the screen.
Black levels are never all that deep but fit the style of the film with its dusty western appearance and generally its only the splattering of red or larger areas of green fields that bring colour to the rather lifeless looking film.
The stereo track here feels quite hollow. Sure there's chirps from birds and clicking insects but dialogue and sound effects feel like spikes of volume increases rather than well placed elements in the sound design. Some of the musical elements feel a little stronger and often adds a solid background layer to the main elements but there's something distinctly low key feeling about this track.
The exterior scenes have a bit of a disconnect dialogue wise, with a whole lots of ADR sounding chatter between characters. Gunshots feel very typical of the classic Western movies that came before this 1980 outing and The Long Riders is filled with the go to sounds for shoot outs. Once again there's a a disconnection to the visuals as the sounds has been added in post production quite obviously and the same goes for most of the sound effects. This is a track that feels like a 1980's film but never really uses the HD format to freshen it up any.
'Outlaw Brothers' is the making of and its a hefty one hour in length. Its well paced, talks a lot about how to make a western and how The Long Riders took the approach of making this a biopic-esq, more realistic look at the gunslinger's life rather than just more of the same old stuff that comes before (no I didn't really feel that in the film too much either).
'Anatomy of a Scene' (15:30 HD) looks at the Northfield Minnesota Raid in more detail and 'Slow Motion: Walter Hill on Sam Peckinpah' (06:17 HD) has the director talking about his influences and his relationship with Peckinpah and the slow motion technique they both used.
80s Westerns never really do much for me and while The Long Riders arrived early in the decade, it still has the fakeness that lazily lit sets and and iffy TV style acting that conjure up a fair bit of 'Meh' in my reactions. Some of the performances are okay but I never really shook the sensation that most of the cast are playing at being cowboys, which made it a struggle to really get engaged with. The disc has a nice selection of extras but the A/V is not really anything to rob a bank about.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 3rd June 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English
Extras: Making of, Anatomy of a Scene, Featurette
Easter Egg: No
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Robert Carradine, James Keach, Dennis Quaid
Genre: Drama and Western
Length: 99 minutes
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