Plot: What’s it about?
Willie Stark (Sean Penn) was once just an ordinary man, a resident of a rural town who was fed up with the corruption around him. He saw crooked politicians and dishonest businessmen looking to advance their own agendas, at the expense of the common people. When the inaction of local politicians contributed to the death of three children, Stark raised hell and drew attention to the cause. Those around him were drawn to him and he was an instant hero of sorts. His popularity caught the eye of a political advisor named Tiny Duffy (James Gandolfini), who saw potential in Stark as a man of the people. Duffy gave the impression of innocent intentions, but like most in politics, he had an agenda of his own. After prompting from Duffy and others, Stark took to the campaign trail to become the governor and enact real change. The election is a landslide, as Stark’s charisma and connection to the people was obvious, so the voters turned out to support his run. But the road to power has taken a toll on Stark, so can he remain the honest, well intentioned man he was? Or like the men he used to derail, has he allowed his power to corrupt?
The trend of remakes continues and in this instance, someone decided that All the King’s Men needed to be revisited. After all, the original only won Best Picture and featured a fantastic lead performance that took home Best Actor, but still, a remake seemed like a natural move. Obviously, I am being sarcastic and this is another unwarranted remake. I really enjoyed the original, but I held out hope for this new incarnation, though I would soon learn that was ill advised. Sean Penn’s performance here is hilarious, as if he is a carnival barker or even a professional wrestler, beyond over the top. I think he just wanted to see how outlandish he could go with the role, nevermind if the movie suffered. As humorous as his turn is, the movie is just lackluster in most respects, even a dynamic cast is unable to keep this one above ground. The passion of the original is absent here, its as if no one cared to put in much effort on either side of the camera. The writing is confused and ineffective, the gifted cast is off the mark, and the direction is substandard. Aside from Penn’s laughable performance, I didn’t find much to like with this remake of a classic. I hope studio heads take a good look at All the King’s Men, as this proves that this trend of remakes is simply unwanted.
Video: How does it look?
All the King’s Men is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer is superb all around, a bright and rich visual presentation that is a pleasure to watch. The print looks pristine and I saw no debris or grain to be concerned with. I was dazzled by the black levels here, so deep and stark with no wavering moments at all, simply fantastic work. On the same level are the colors, which run with vibrant hues of all kinds, but never suffer from any errors whatsoever. As far as clarity, you couldn’t ask for much sharper visuals, as detail is high and never fails to provide a crisp, refined presentation. This is just an excellent transfer in all aspects, its just a shame the movie itself isn’t as impressive.
Audio: How does it sound?
You have the choice between Dolby Digital and PCM 5.1 soundtracks, for this review I went with the PCM option. This is not reference level material, but the music does sound excellent. The bass is deep and the music really comes alive in the surrounds. Given the low key nature of the material, the music serves to add presence and it does, the soundtrack is loud and powerful. The other sound effects tend to be less remarkable, but well handled, which is what matters. As far as dialogue, I found vocals to be crisp and never muffled in the least. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This Blu-ray disc includes no bonus materials.