American Outlaws (2001)

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Sell-Through Release Status Unknown
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Audio Commentary-L Mayfield (Dir), J Rogers (Co-Writ) & M Tronick (Ed)
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Creating The Old West
Featurette-How To Be An Outlaw
Featurette-Costuming The Cowboys
Deleted Scenes-2
Theatrical Trailer
Easter Egg-Steam Train Sequence
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 90:20 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (51:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Les Mayfield
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Colin Farrell
Scott Caan
Ali Larter
Timothy Dalton
Kathy Bates
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Rental Music Trevor Rabin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    American Outlaws is the story of the James-Younger gang, and starts with the two James brothers Jesse (Colin Farrell) and Frank (Gabriel Macht) returning home with their cousins Cole (Scott Caan), Jim (Gregory Smith) and Bob (Will McCormack) Younger from the American Civil War where they have all ridden in a band of partisan raiders fighting on the side of the South. On arrival back in their hometown of Liberty, their desire is to return to life on the land. However, this dream is short-lived as the railroad is coming to town and the representatives of the Rock Island Railroad are keen to acquire the land they need for a pittance if they can or by any other means if the land owners are not prepared to sell.

    Unfortunately for the railroad, when they try to persuade the James family to part with their farm they end up killing Ma James (Kathy Bates) in the process. The James boys enlist their cousins and other ex-raiders to help obtain revenge on the railroad for this act and they set about travelling around the countryside robbing the banks and trains that have the railroad's money in their keeping. Needless to say, the railroad in the form of  its owner Thaddeus Rains (Harris Yulin) and his enlisted henchman Allan Pinkerton (Timothy Dalton) take great exception to the actions of the James-Younger gang and set about the arduous task of hunting them down.

    I'm no expert on the history of the American West, however I'll venture that the producers of American Outlaws have taken some poetic licence with this portrayal of Jesse James' life. As films go, this is more likely to appeal to those looking for some light entertainment as opposed to a gritty view of the reality of the old West or a factual account of the life and times of the James gang. On the positive side, there's plenty of action and the reference quality soundtrack will give both your sound system and your ears a good workout!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is an excellent transfer without any but the most minor of problems. In other words, Roadshow Home Entertainment have done their usual excellent job!

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

    There are no concerns with sharpness or shadow detail. There is no low level noise. There is a small amount of edge enhancement seen occasionally but this could be easily overlooked as it never reaches a distracting level.

    A full colour palette is available with all colours accurately rendered. Skin tones appear quite natural.

    No compression artefacts were apparent. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of a couple of very minor instances of aliasing. Except for some minor film grain being apparent occasionally, I don't recall seeing any other film artefacts in this transfer.

    English subtitles are the only option available on this disc. The subtitles are displayed in white text at the bottom of the screen are easily read. They are not the most accurate I have seen with quite a few phases and words varying from the spoken dialogue, however in the 15 minutes or so that I checked there were no significant deviations in so far as the meaning was concerned.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring in Chapter 17, at 51:02. Its placement in the middle of a scene is slightly disruptive to the flow of the movie.

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

Audio

    This is a fantastic audio transfer and is of reference quality. I'd be surprised if you could experience this soundtrack and walk away unimpressed.

    The audio defaults to an English Dolby Digital 5.1 dialogue track. There is an additional Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded commentary track. I listened to both.

    The dialogue is perfectly clear at all times. There are no obvious problems with audio sync.

    While he is not as well known as some composers, Trevor Rabin has quite a long list of well-known blockbuster movies behind him including Gone In 60 Seconds, Armageddon and Rock Star. The music for American Outlaws is impressive and is best described as rousing. The main theme music is quite reminiscent of the score from Armageddon. I enjoyed the score which was successful in enhancing the viewing experience and complementing the on-screen action.

    The surrounds are very active when needed and are very successful at drawing the viewer into the thick of the action. The opening battle sequence is a good example of this with cannon shot and bullets whizzing past your ears. The surrounds are also used extensively in support of the music score.

    Equally, the subwoofer is also very active as needed and is used aggressively and intensely to underscore explosions and similar events. A good example of the use of the subwoofer occurs at 23:40 during the horse stampede.

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

Extras

    In typical Roadshow Entertainment fashion, there are quite a few reasonable extras including a commentary track from the director and others involved in making the film.

Menu

    The menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and includes 16x9 enhancement. The menu features Dolby Digital 2.0 audio but no animation is provided.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Train

Audio Commentary-L Mayfield (Director), J Rogers (Co-Writer) & M Tronick (Editor)

    The three commentators speak in great detail about the story and script development, the actors and their characters, how the movie was edited, conditions and events that occurred on the set. This is a informative commentary which presents lots of inside information on this movie.

Featurette-Making Of (8:35)

    A pretty standard "making of" feature consisting of the director Les Mayfield as well as several of the stars talking about the story and their characters, as well as their various experiences in making the movie. In standard form, the interviews are cut with clips from the film and behind the scenes shots. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and English subtitles are provided.

Featurette-Creating The Old West (6:08)

    This featurette describes in some detail the process of creating the western set that was used in the film for the towns of Liberty, Hyperion and Fidelity. The actors talk about the extreme heat and their impressions of what it must have been like living in the old west. This is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and English subtitles are provided.

Featurette-How To Be An Outlaw (4:56)

      Once again this is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and English subtitles are provided. Apparently all the actors were sent to "Cowboy Camp" in order to learn how to handle guns and ride horses and the other cowboy skills they needed for their parts in the film. Not surprisingly, all the actors seemed to enjoy this experience!

Featurette-Costuming The Cowboys (5:09)

    This is also presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and English subtitles are provided. This is a series of stills of the characters as well as various sketches of the costumes. Costume designer Luke Reichle provides some insight into the look that he wanted to achieve. The presentation is very dry and appears to have been scripted as opposed to being spontaneous.

Deleted Scenes-2

    Both deleted scenes are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Both feature Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio. The first scene, "Jesse and Frank Argue", runs for 2:15 and has some minor audio dropouts. The second scene, "Jim and Lyla", runs for 1:28. There is a significant amount of aliasing present in both.

Theatrical Trailer (0:56)

    A typical trailer which is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Easter Egg-Steam Train Sequence

    This is accessed to the right of the Main Menu option in the Special Features Menu. This feature which runs for 1.38 and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 provides some background on the various steam train sequences in the movie, which were shot using the trains and facilities of the Texas State Railroad.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    In my view, it's a close call as to which is the best version. It really comes down to how much you want a DTS soundtrack.

Summary

    American Outlaws is definitely not a great movie, but it is a good movie and therefore not a bad way to spend a couple of hours if you're looking for some action and light entertainment. It provides plenty of action and is blessed with an excellent transfer.

    The video quality is superb, and is almost of reference quality.

    The audio quality is superb, and is of reference quality.

    The extras are quite satisfactory.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Sunday, July 07, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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