Heathens and Thieves (2012)

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Released 18-Apr-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Trailer-Accent releases x 30+
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 105:49
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Megan Peterson
John Douglas Sinclair
Studio
Distributor
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Andrew Simpson
Gwendoline Yeo
Don Swayze
Richard Doyle
Michael Robert Brandon
Boyuen
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Sean R. Ferguson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.00:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Two gunmen, Saul (Andrew Simpson) and Bill (Richard Doyle), drift into the town of Orofino controlled by Sheriff Ashplant (Tom Procter). In a saloon they hear about a large cache of gold that had supposedly been stolen from the railroad company by Chinese man Zhen (Boyuen) and hidden on a nearby ranch. The two ride to the ranch to find the gold. While Bill waits in the woods, Saul wangles himself a job with Zhen as a ranch hand to gain his trust. Zhen has an attractive wife, Kun Hua (Gwendoline Yeo), who does not trust Saul, and a baby daughter. Saul is attracted to Kun Hua and is almost convinced that there is no gold when a group of men led by Colonel Sherman Rutherford (Don Swayze) arrive looking for the gold, and their methods of persuasion are not gentle. Over the course of a night and a couple of days, other violent men, including Deputy US Marshall Moses (Michael Robert Brandon) and Sheriff Ashplant, are drawn into the conflict and the search for the gold. And it seems that no-one, including Kun Hua, is being totally honest.

     Every so often a film arrives for review that is much better than expected. Heathens and Thieves has had some indifferent reviews, some calling it too long, and I can understand that those looking for a quick fire shoot ‘em up western with cardboard characters and traditional heroes will be disappointed. Certainly Heathens and Thieves does include violent and brutal action and an explosive climax, but it takes its time to allow us to get to know the characters and there is a lot of talk along the way. It is true that inexperienced writer / co-director John Douglas Sinclair (this is his first feature script and second feature as director) and co-director Megan Peterson (she has a number of credits as a TV producer, but this is her first feature as director) could have kept a tighter rein on the plotting, as there are too many of reversals of fortune and additional characters that might have been compressed without injuring the flow of the story.

     Yet, in the main the extra time taken is not wasted as most of the major characters, especially Don Swayze’s Colonel Rutherford, are well rounded and interesting, while Andrew Simpson, Richard Doyle, Tom Procter and the attractive Gwendoline Teo, who is as duplicitous as any man, are all excellent. These are all bad and violent people, but there are no cartoon characters here but people who have a backstory and a reason for what they do.

     The other pluses for Heathens and Thieves are the scenery and the music. Filmed in Scotts Valley and Yreka California the location scenery is spectacular, while the music by Sean R. Ferguson was haunting and atmospheric, lending excellent support to the visuals in both the fight scenes and quieter moments.

     Heathens and Thieves looks and sounds great, the characters are interesting and the action explosive and loud when it comes. This is a character driven western that is unusual and an unexpected treat. It reminded me in tone of Unforgiven, and while certainly not up to the standard of that superb western, it is well worth a look.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Heathens and Thieves is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The IMDb gives the original ratio as 2.00.1, an interesting ratio for a recent film, and to me it did look as if some scenes were cropped, with characters half or two-thirds out of frame. The only other DVD release at present, the Region 1 US version, is listed as 1.77.1.

     Heathens and Thieves is a low budget independent film shot using digital Red One cameras. It looks spectacular, with lovely landscape views of the Yreka area of California, richly detailed interiors and fine detail upon faces in close-up, showing every whisker and dirt mark. Colours are glossy but natural in a flat digital way, blacks, shadow detail and skin tones very good. There is some variation in brightness and contrast, and some glare for light surfaces especially when the camera is looking into the light.

     For the opening sequence, a chase through woods, queasy cam was very much evident, but I am pleased that this was an exception. For the rest of the film the print shows only occasional motion blur but nothing serious. There are no marks or other artefacts.

     There are no subtitles.

     The layer change occurred at 86:42 in the middle of a scene and created a slight pause.

     A good print with some glorious colours, although the question of the aspect ratio remains.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 384 Kbps.

     Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, which is just as well for a film with a lot of words. The surrounds were constantly in play with running water, insects, animal noises and music. Gunshots were loud and reverberated nicely and the sub-woofer added depth to horses’ hooves and especially the explosion at the climax, which shook the room in a very satisfactory manner.

     The score by Sean R. Ferguson was wonderful. It was haunting and atmospheric, lending excellent support to the visuals in both the fight scenes and quieter moments. It was well represented in the audio mix. I really enjoyed it, and if I see the soundtrack album I would buy it, it is that good.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The very good, enveloping audio track, with an excellent music score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers

     On start-up there were trailers for Noobz, Hello I Must Be Going, Four Assassins, The Legend of Hell’s Gate and Extracted, that collectively run 9:29. A total of 30 trailers of Accent Film Entertainment releases can be selected from the menu - some, but not all, of the start-up trailers are repeated - and we do get a trailer for Heathens and Thieves included. There is a “play all” option.

     There are no other extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US NTSC release, is listed as being in the aspect ratio of 1.77:1 and without extras. The PAL All Region release is to be preferred.

Summary

     What is not to like about a film that includes broken promises, betrayal, shifting alliances, duplicity, murder, gunsmoke and explosions. Heathens and Thieves looks and sounds great, the characters are interesting and the action explosive and loud when it comes. This character driven western is an unexpected treat.

     The video looks good, but is probably in the incorrect aspect ratio, the audio excellent. A raft of trailers is the only extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, June 08, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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