Plot: What’s it about?
John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) have found much adventure in their native Texas, but now they seek to expand into new lands and new adventures. In an effort to find those adventures and experiences, the two embark on a journey that will take them to Mexico, where they hope to find work as horse rustlers. As they cross the border, they expect a better life and a new outlook on everything, but as they soon discover, this new land is not just as they planned. Although Mexico has good points and many of the things the two were looking for, the area also holds many dangers and less than desirable conditions. In other words, this is not exactly the better life Cole and Rawlins had hoped for, but they push forward and attempt to make it better over time. But when Cole becomes involved with his boss’ daughter Alejandra (Penelope Cruz), it starts a chain of events that will alter their lives forever. The two rode into Mexico looking for some changes, but little did they know just how much it would change them, as well as all the other people that surround them.
I thought this film look interesting, but since I don’t usually like Matt Damon’s work, so I skipped it when it played at theaters. I’ve now been able to view the flick via this disc and while it was good, I was right in doubting Damon’s skills. As usual, Damon gives his paper thin turn and spoils some of the material, but the rest of the elements are in fine form here. Billy Bob Thornton supplies superb direction and the rest of the cast is great, including performances from Penelope Cruz, Henry Thomas, Ruben Blades, and Lucas Black. I was pleased with this film on most levels, as the production design was top notch and as I said, direction is better than average, but it seems like some material was cut here, at least in a few places. I say this because why the movie works well, it never becomes cohesive in total and as such, it makes it a little harder to rank it as a great flick. But don’t think this is a bad movie, as it isn’t, it just seems a little loose and rushed in a couple places, as well as the burden of Damon’s weak performance. If you’re at all interested however, I recommend you give this disc a rental, even if it offers little value.
We’re more used to seeing him in front of the camera, but Billy Bob Thornton is also a skilled director and he proves that here. He is able to take a wide scope here and make good use of it, from his gifted cast to the solid writing from Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs). As I said, the film seems a little rushed at times, as if some footage was cut late in the game, but Thornton still delivers a more than solid motion picture. I am unsure if this his director’s cut or not, but I would love to see an extended edition, if one could exist. I also like how Thornton balances visuals and storyline focus, to keep the film beautiful to look at, but also give it enough substance. This was Thornton’s second spin as director, with his first effort being the acclaimed Sling Blade. The cast of All The Pretty Horses includes Matt Damon (Rounders, Good Will Hunting), Henry Thomas (Suicide Kings, Legends of the Fall), Lucas Black (The War, Sling Blade), Penelope Cruz (Woman on Top, Live Flesh), Ruben Blades (Predator 2, The Devil’s Own), and Bruce Dern (Last Man Standing, The ‘burbs).
Video: How does it look?
All The Pretty Horses is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As this is a Columbia/Tristar new release, I was expecting a terrific transfer and of course, I was not let down in the least. The film’s gorgeous visuals are well presented here, with minimal flaws I could ascertain. The colors seem in order and have a nice scope to the hues, while flesh tones are natural and warm also. I didn’t see anything amiss with the contrast either, black levels look dead on and I saw no traces of detail loss, very strong work all around. A few small errors do surface, but not enough to distract or force me to lower the score much.
Audio: How does it sound?
This might not be an action packed flick, but the included Dolby Digital 5.1 is a good one and provides a terrific audio experience. The surrounds are used a lot to create atmosphere, but don’t expect much in terms of impact audio, as this more subtle stuff. The musical score also has a rich texture in this mix, which adds to the scope of the audio and that’s always welcome. The dialogue is right on cue also, very rich and always easy to understand, while free from any and all volume related issues. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track, as well as subtitles in English and French, in case you’ll need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some talent files, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.