All the King’s Men—Sony Pictures

Audio: 4
Video: 4
Extras: 3

Watching this theatrical adaptation of Robert Penn Warren’s novel All the King’s Men is like looking at a pretty picture of the Sistine Chapel. It might help you appreciate the original work’s beauty and craftsmanship but isn’t likely to inspire the emotional reaction of standing in the Chapel itself. I confess I’ve never read Warren’s novel, nor have I seen the original 1949 film, so I was able to judge the movie on its own merits. While I was engaged in this chronicle of the rise and fall of a populist Louisiana governor, the only powerful emotion it inspired was a strong desire to go read the book.

The film is beautifully shot, with deliberately muted colors, good detail, and wonderful use of shadows and contrasts. The DVD’s 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer does the cinematography justice and will put your digital display to the test. The Dolby Digital 5.1 brings the robust James Horner score to life and makes great use of the surrounds and subwoofer to heighten tension; however, the dialogue mix is a bit soft, which requires you to push the volume to hear critical conversations. The bonus package includes a few mildly interesting featurettes and three deleted scenes, most notably an alternate ending that I found more satisfying than the one we got.

All the King’s Men is a respectable effort that’s worth a rental, but I suggest you swing by the bookstore while you’re out.