Broken TrailSony Picture Home Entertainment (Blu-ray)
Set in 1897, Print Ritter and his estranged nephew Tom Harte become the reluctant guardians of five abused and abandoned Chinese girls. Ritter and Harte's attempts to care for the girls are complicated by their responsibility to deliver a herd of horses while avoiding a group of bitter rivals intent on kidnapping the girls for their own purposes.
The great Westerns are a dying breed and over the last few years I’ve only seen a couple that I really enjoyed. When this one showed up I had never even heard of it. This was a two-part series for AMC but don’t let that fool you into thinking it isn’t up to the full standards of great western films. I loved this one. The story has a nice wide arc with great character development and some of the most gorgeous photography you can ask for. Anyone that is even remotely a fan of westerns needs to give this one a chance.
This presentation was clean enough to make me think it was shot with a digital camera but it wasn’t. The print is in immaculate condition and almost completely devoid of noise. Colors have lots of pop and the countryside makes for a gorgeous backdrop with lots of detail and depth. If I had to nitpick there were a few shots where the whites seemed slightly clipped in the skylines but it was hardly distracting. Detail and dimension was excellent throughout and fine object detail reminded me of the razor sharp digital productions. Overall a solid effort from Sony.
The soundtrack is delivered in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and this is the only place that I felt the production as a whole was a bit limited by its made for TV roots. Not that this film doesn’t deliver a compelling soundstage, it just doesn’t have the dynamics and production value of high budget western films. Dialogue takes center stage and its balance with the rest of the track is great. I did notice some slight strain in the vocals from time to time though. Some of the gunfights exhibited decent dynamic range but nothing near the quality we saw from some more recent westerns like Open Range. Overall I was happy with the mix and its great balance but still wished there was a bit more in the sound design and dynamic range.
Extras are limited to a making of feature that goes on set and includes interviews and behind the scenes footage at the production.
Great westerns are few and far between so when you can get them, get ‘em. Sony has done a great job with the A/V presentation and the story as a whole is well worth the time. Highly recommended.