News of the World

It can be taken for granted that if Tom Hanks is starring in a movie, we will become acquainted with a compelling lead character. Also, if Paul Greengrass is directing, it will be an exciting ride. Following the South's loss in the Civil War, Texas circa 1870 was a complicated place and time in the United States. World-weary Captain Kidd (not Phillips) ekes out a humble existence traveling from town to town, reading the news of the day to small groups of dime-paying customers who might otherwise remain oblivious. In the now- familiar trope of the reluctant older protector taking on an innocent young charge, Kidd is tasked with transporting waif Johanna (talented newcomer Helena Zengel) to her surviving biological family after she is "rescued" from the Kiowa tribe who raised her. The journey is long and remarkably hostile in more ways than one, and the pair along the way come to terms with what they've lost and learn what they've been searching for.

This is one of the best-looking discs I've spun in a while. Captured digitally by cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, the 2.39:1 image boasts tremendous detail, imparting you-are-there immediacy even to the movie's many dimly-lit scenes. The weave of Kidd's jacket and of Johanna's coat are razor-sharp, and you can pick out individual tiny flecks of dry prairie grass kicked up by the breeze. HDR10+ high dynamic range also brings out impressive highlight detail in the warm glow of oil lanterns illuminating a smoky meeting hall or in the inviting radiance of a campfire, the only light for miles around. News was shot in New Mexico, and the achingly beautiful scenery, with its sun- washed and moon-kissed plains, has its own distinctive lighting that's neither artificially bright nor so dark that the action is ever obscured.


The Dolby Atmos soundtrack does its part to put us on the trail with these wayward travelers, with light touches such as the play of rainfall in both interior and exterior scenes, and all-engrossing ones like an ominous windstorm. Kidd's readings are enlivened by the murmur of a small crowd or the tumult of a rowdier audience. Elsewhere, gunshots display a precise crack followed by jarring bullet hits.


Deleted scenes are all quite strong, with story/character moments worthy of inclusion in the final film. The featurettes are rather short and fairly standard, the best of them providing a brief introduction to the Kiowa Native American tribe. Director/co-screen- writer Greengrass shares his passion for the project in his audio commentary, and all extras appear on both the Ultra HD and regular HD discs in this combo pack.


STUDIO: Universal Studios, 2020
AUDIO FORMAT: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
LENGTH: 118 mins.
DIRECTOR: Paul Greengrass
STARRING: Tom Hanks, Helena Zengel, Ray McKinnon, Mare Winningham, Elizabeth Marvel, Fred Hechinger

mtrot's picture

This film was enjoyable, entertaining, and educational.