3:10 to Yuma [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (6th February 2008).
The Film

A dusty street in a small western town is all but empty, all townsfolk have sought shelter in the local saloon or haberdasher, huddled around the windows to bare witness the match of the day. The villain dressed in black makes his stance on the street. Directly in front of him some distance apart is our hero, dressed in white. Their hands hover over their gun belts, the villain gestures to the hero that one of them is about to die. Itís a showdown. As tradition dictates the hero will win, get the girl, save the town and not get a single stain on his pristine white suit. This scenario was common in westerns of the 50ís, where spotting a hero and villain was as black and white as...their costumes were. There was a certain charm in those films, a clean-cut American tribute to the west and its heroes. But they were never real enough, those Hollywood productions romanticized that era and it wasnít until the Spaghetti Westerns hit their height of popularity that movie audiences began to see a very different picture of the west. One that was gritty and dirty, where the characters were unshaven and sweaty and there was no clear-cut-black-white hero, anti-heroes and bounty hunters, AWOL soldiers and men with no names roamed the plains. Lawlessness and violence was a daily occurrence. This was a western that really appealed to me, it felt authentic. ď3:10 to YumaĒ, a remake of a film of the same name from 1957, is director James Mangoldís entry in the western genre and itís feels as gritty and authentic as they come.

Iíve been a fan of Mangoldís work since his early days with his debut feature Heavy (1995) followed up by the excellent cop-drama Cop Land (1997) featuring a terrific performance by a pudgy Sylvester Stallone. Mangoldís transition to bigger studio pictures was inevitable considering his talent at crafting brilliant performances from his actors and delivering solid films. His Oscar winning bio-pic of famed country legend Johnny Cash, Walk the Line (2005) earned the filmmaker much kudos from the viewing public and critics alike. From his varied and diverse filmography Mangold seems like the kind of filmmaker that always tries something new. So I was excited to see what kind of western heíd deliver.

3:10 to Yuma tells the story of outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) a ruthless killer and successful robber. He and his gang have eluded capture for some time. After a robbery Ben is captured and must be transported to the town of contention where they plan on putting him on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. The only problem is that his gang plan to set Ben free and will stop at nothing to see out that mission. In order to secure Benís travel plan Mr. Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) of the Pinkerton Agency contracts some law men, a Doctor (Alan Tudyk) and a rancher desperate for some money, Dan Evans (Christian Bale) to escort him.

What was immediately apparent about this film from the beginning was that it wasnít going to be a cookie-cutter Hollywood western. This would defy convention and focus on characters and the continuous movement of the story that keeps the audience on the edge at all times even though the characters are nothing new (In fact they are fairly archetypal Western characters). The story is a simple one but the themes of the film are those that many can appreciate and relate to. A major theme of the film includes doing the right thing even if the odds are stacked against you. But what makes the film so incredible to watch is the interaction between Crowe and Bale. Aside from being on opposite sides they are essentially intellectually matched and the dialogue between them is refreshing. Both characterís undergo a journey not just physically but metaphorically, Baleís character see this opportunity as a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his son and perhaps prove to his family that he is capable of making a stand while Crowe develops an understanding of this and finds an equal in him. Their scenes, of which encompasses nearly the entire film will have you glued to the screen, and in the background of all this is Croweís gang temporarily led by Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) who delivers a resoundingly calculated and merciless character that will kill anyone that gets in his way with pin point accuracy in order to free his boss. There are other impressive supporting roles scattered throughout the film which include the likes of Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol and Alan Tudyk.

Matched technically by a rapid sense of pace in the filmís more intense moments and a deliberate flow in the many dialogue scenes between the key characters the film balances itís elements quite well, this is further complimented by the photography and score that captures the ruggedness of the landscape and the seriousness of the situation perfectly. Everyone involved in this film were firing on all cylinders and as a result created an exceptional film with almost no flaws. Thereís nothing to loose and everything to gain from watching this film, itís truly a modern western masterpiece.

Video

Presented in the filmís original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 this high-definition transfer is presented in full 1080p at 24/fps and has been encoded using VC-1 compression. Being a recent film release the transfer is clean and free from any dirt, the image is sharp, especially background which gives the film the depth required for this gritty western. The level of detail is excellent, from the facial hair on the cast to the textures of their costumes and the intricate production design of the sets and locations around them are displayed vibrantly. Colors appear saturated and accurate, blacks are deep and bold and shadow detail is consistently good especially in dimly lit and night scenes. Grain is minimal but some noise can be detected amid the blacks, this isnít distracting but I did notice some edge-enhancement which was rather distracting at times. I was expecting a flawless transfer but found this problem that was a little disappointing; otherwise it is a very good effort.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English uncompressed PCM 7.1 as well as English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, for the purposes of this track I chose to view the film with its PCM track and found it to be a rather rich and dynamic experience. The filmís ambient sounds are on display here placing right the middle of the landscapes and the towns there character travel through. Atmospheric sounds appear natural and directional effects also feel in place and well mixed within the sound space. The filmís soundtrack picks up and letís out its aggressive side during the gun battles as bullets wiz by and hit their various targets. Itís an active sound mix that totally immerses the viewer and the experience is only added to with the filmís score.
Optional subtitles are included in English and Spanish.

Extras

Lionsgate has included an audio commentary, a series of 7 featurettes, 7 deleted scenes, an interactive experience, interactive text notes and some theatrical trailers. All of the video extras are presented in 1080p high-definition. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary featuring the filmís director James Mangold, in this track Mangold comments on remaking the original and his motivations for that as well as what interested him in the project. He talks about various production challenges and shares his directorial process with the viewer on his approach to this film and the in what ways itís different from the 1957 original. He goes into detail about the cast as well as shares his thoughts on making a western and the focus on creating something that is gritty and real and avoiding the clichťs of the genre. Mangold takes us through the film with an effortless track commenting on many aspects of the production but especially on his process which is fascinating. Although Mangold provides a thoroughly engaging track it would have been nice to have included members of the cast and crew as well to share their experiences on the film.

Next up weíve got "Destination: Yuma" a featurette that runs for 20 minutes 58 seconds and is basically a making-of that focuses on key aspects of the production including briefly touching on the interest to remake the film and what the filmmakerís brought to this updated version of the story, the production design and how it reflects on the characters, shooting on location instead of a soundstage, building a western town, on shooting the action as we get a look at a key sequence as well as costumes, working with the horses, practical effects and the steam train among other things. While this wasnít a typical EPK clip it was a little lacking and felt like it was incomplete. What this disc really needed was a full blown documentary chronicling the production from start to finish.

Next up is "Outlaws, Gangs, and Posses", this featurette runs for 12 minutes 58 seconds takes a historical look at how gangs and outlaws started out in the west, examines some of the iconic outlaws and their methods of robbing stages, trains and banks as well as their downfall. Also looks at the Pinkertonís and the gunfight at the OK Corral, this is an interesting look at the real people that carved out their own legendary status in the west and although brief itís an informative and interesting clip.

"An Epic Explored" is another featurette that runs for 6 minutes 22 seconds and takes a look at the western as a genre and itís themes, it focuses on taking social issues and setting them in a fantastic landscape that treats these issues in a black and white manner. This is what the genre allows and in essence looks at how this makes it unique and interesting.

The next featurette is the first of a few that are exclusive to this Blu-ray release, entitled "3:10 to Score" which runs for 7 minutes 38 seconds takes a look at the filmís simple yet beautiful score and the methods used to create themes and provide a tone for the film. As important as the music is, the sound is also explored in scenes that use no music and how that impacts a scene.

The next exclusive featurette is "From Sea to Shining Sea" which runs for 19 minutes 39 seconds and is a fascinating look at the history of the Trans Continental Railway, the workers that laid the tracks, the towns that sprung up along the line and the rough working conditions. This clip explores the importance of the railway and what it meant for transport and trade.

Yet another exclusive extra is "A Conversation with author Elmore Leonard" this featurette runs for 5 minutes 24 seconds and is a short interview with author as he talks about how he started writing western stories and originally selling the "3:10 to Yuma" short story to a dime publication. I was a little disappointed in this feature as it was a perfect opportunity to take a look at the authorís career and background but instead itís an all too brief clip that glosses over a couple of topics.

"The Guns of Yuma" is the next exclusive featurette on this disc and runs for 6 minutes 17 seconds, this primarily looks at the various weapons used on the production and how that provides an insight into the character and helps define them.

Following that is the "Historical Timeline of the West" these are interactive text notes that span the 1860ís through to the 1890ís, you are able to select each decade and learn about various events that occurred within them as they are related to a map on screen.

7 deleted scenes are next and can be viewed individually or with a Ďplay allí option and include:

- "Darden vs. Nez" runs for 1 minute 20 seconds, Darden is infuriated that Nez continues to ignore him.
- "Darden vs. Monty" runs for 44 seconds, after the stagecoach tips over, Darden stabs Monty for thinking heís Wade.
- "Al Pinkerton's Tongue" runs for 52 seconds, Wade tells Byron of a rumor he heard that his boss died of a tongue infection.
- "Were You Sincere About Mexico?" runs for 41 seconds, the whore Wade spent time with asks if he meant what he said as heís taken away.
- "Corrupt Souls" runs for 53 seconds, Wade talks about how Byron sees things.
- "Overrated Utensils" runs for 38 seconds, Wade expresses his opinion about the fork.
- "That's My Son! The Hay & the Grass" runs for 2 minutes 43 seconds, Byron is stopped before shooting at Danís son, Dan tells him to return home.

Next is "Inside Yuma" an interactive experience which can be switched on during the filmís play, this feature was originally going to conform to profile 1.1 but it does not so it can be played on most Blu-ray players. When activated an icon appears that can be selected that takes into various aspects of the filmís production this can include storyboards, behind-the-scenes footage as well as raw footage from the shooting and effects demos among other things in a pop-up window. This is a neat feature but its daunting to get through considering thereís a lot of stopping and starting when using the feature and they are also sporadic and not that regular. It would have been great if the disc producers also included the content separately in a selectable sub-menu instead.

Also featured on this disc is the filmís original theatrical trailer which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers that play prior to the menu and are also selectable from the menu, they include:

- "Rambo" which runs for 2 minutes 25 seconds.
- "War" which runs for 38 seconds.
- "Lord of War" which runs for 2 minutes 13 seconds.
- "The Condemned" which runs for 1 minute 48 seconds.
- "Crank" which runs for 1 minute 58 seconds.
- "The Punisher" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "Good Luck Chuck" which runs for 2 minutes 20 seconds.

Packaging

There are no region markings on the disc packaging but it is confirmed this release is in fact region free.

Overall

The Film: A+ Video: A- Audio: A+ Extras: A- Overall: A-

 


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