Plot: What’s it about?
I vividly remember reading Roger Ebert’s review of the updated version of “3:10 to Yuma” starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Westerns aren’t exactly a dime a dozen these days and when the predecessor to this movie was released in 1957, they were. I’m not a huge fan of re-makes, unless, of course, they make an improvement. This is the case with “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Batman Begins” and with the film in question. I’d actually seen the 1957 version of “3:10 to Yuma” in film class nearly a decade ago and though good, I’d forgotten it with all of the movies I’ve seen since. This updated version brings a little more grit into the picture and I have to say that Russell Crowe and Christian Bale are two of my favorite actors working today putting them in a movie together is absolute genius. I’m also a fan of director James Mangold who directed one of my favorite movies in recent memory with “Walk the Line” the biopic of the late country star Johnny Cash. All the elements are there and the movie has an intriguing storyline, but could it all work?
For those not familiar with the plot, it’s not exactly complicated. Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is an outlaw who’s finally been captured and is en route to his sentencing. He and his dedicated gang, led by Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), have caused mischief and mayhem for quite some time and the capture of Ben is quite the feat. We then get an insight into Dan Evans (Christian Bale) a war vet who’s lost his leg and is desperately trying to keep his farm from being run into the ground. As it so happens, Ben is in need of an escort to make sure he gets on the train to Yuma (departing at 3:10, obviously) and, needing the money, Ben agrees to chaperone for enough money to get out of debt. Things don’t go as planned as Ben’s son also comes along for the ride and as Dan and Ben get to know each other, they develop an unspoken bond. Is Ben really an outlaw with a heart of gold or is he just using Dan to further himself and will try to escape at the first chance?
As far as Westerns go, there are a few that stand out as being truly great. Sure there are classics like “High Noon”, “The Wild Bunch” and “Unforgiven” but as uncommon as the genre is today, it’s quite a feat to create such an atmosphere of tension and unrest in a movie. “3:10 to Yuma” manages to avoid most every stereotype and clich and manages to tell an intriguing story along the way. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are in top form as well. The two are the headliners of the film but look closely and you’ll see Peter Fonda in a fairly memorable role. While I realize that Westerns aren’t for everyone, this one does transcend the genre somewhat. It manages to tell a good story but at the same time staying true to the original. That’s a feat in itself.
Video: How does it look?
“3:10 to Yuma” comes to Blu-ray in a very nice-looking 2.40:1 VC-1 HD transfer. As a new to Blu-ray movie, we can expect a few things, sharpness and clarity being chief among them. The genre implies that the screen will be covered in earthy tones, many browns and earthy tones. It does and, for the most part, it looks pretty good. I did notice some grain and I can only assume that was the intention of the filmmakers to give the film a more rugged feel. Flesh tones do seem a bit oversaturated, but then again it’s what I was expecting. I’m in no way disappointed with the way this looks on my TV, and while there is room for improvement I was happy with this the way it is.
Audio: How does it sound?
Lion’s Gate seems hell bent on releasing every new to Blu-ray title they have with a complete 7.1 PCM uncompressed soundtrack and if that’s the way they fell, who am I to complain? There are plenty of opportunities for the soundtrack to impress and thankfully, most all of those opportunities aren’t wasted. We get bullets whizzing by and bringing the surrounds into play on multiple occasions. The horses galloping and even the high-pitched clinging of the spurs sounds outstanding in this uncompressed track. Those wanting a great-sounding uncompressed track will have plenty to crow about here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
“3:10 to Yuma” also comes packed with the lion’s (pardon the pun) share of supplements as well. We start off with a commentary by director James Mangold as he tells us what he was thinking with the remake, the casting and of course, the shoot. It’s a great track and much like his track on “Walk the Line” is a must listen. Three other featurettes are included in “Destination Yuma”, “Outlaws, Gangs and Posses” and “An Epic Explored” as these delve into the making of the film with some insight in to the old west as well as interviews with the cast and crew. Some deleted scenes are also included. Now we get to the good stuff. “3:10 to Yuma” has embraced the HD format and this feature is anything unlike I’ve seen on a disc before. We have “Inside Yuma” and “A Timeline of the Old West” which both utilize the interactive features of the format. The “Timeline” feature I found intriguing as you can literally click on any year of the late 19th century and get a detail of what happened. More intriguing is the “Inside Yuma” feature which uses a branching technology that gives the user more information about the movie (simply click on an icon and you’ll be taken to the feature). We also get some more featurettes focusing on the guns of the Old West, “From Sea to Shining Sea” and a bit about the score. The theatrical trailer is also included.