All the Pretty Horses (2000)

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Released 6-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Finding Forrester; Almost Famous
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 112:12
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Billy Bob Thornton
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Matt Damon
Henry Thomas
Penelope Cruz
Case Brackley-Trans-No Lip
RPI $36.95 Music Marty Stuart


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Swedish
Turkish
Croatian
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, All The Pretty Horses is the second directorial effort from actor Billy Bob Thornton after the husband of Angelina Jolie directed the 1996 film Sling Blade. Matt Damon stars as John Grady Cole, a young man who finds after the death of his father that he is unable to claim the family ranch due to his estranged mother wanting to sell it. Cole decides to pack up his gear and hop on his horse in true wild west style (even though this is set in 1950) and head south with best mate Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas). They cross the mighty Rio Grande into Mexico looking for work breaking horses. They soon meet up with a young tearaway by the name of Jimmy Blevins (Lucas Black), who is riding an extremely prized horse and also appears to be on the run from something or someone.

    The boys find work with wealthy rancher Hector de la Rocha (Rubén Blades). They impress the rancher with their ability to break horses quickly and effectively and Cole soon becomes a favoured employee, much to the chagrin of the other Mexican workers. De la Rocha just happens to have an extremely beautiful and mysterious daughter, Alejandra (Penélope Cruz). Cole is smitten with Alejandra and begins courting her, but doesn't count on this being none too popular with  her father. The consequences of his affections may be about to bring a degree of trouble that the boys would have never have dreamed of.

    Essentially a love story at heart, this is also virtually a modern-day western. It is actually set in the 1950s, although it often feels that it is around 1870. The story is let down at times by its slow, meandering pace which can become a tad boring after a while. Not having read the book, I cannot compare with how that story unfolds and how faithful this adaptation is to it. I'd imagine that the book is quite rich in characterisations and development, and this is the area that the film struggles to develop in its under 2 hour running time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    An absolutely exquisite video transfer has been afforded this release. It shines above the pack of other fine recent releases that I have viewed due in no small part to the superb cinematography by Barry Markowitz. Terms such as sweeping vistas, stunning panoramas, and spectacular landscapes could all be used to describe the images that make up much of this modern day western.

    Presented in the original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1, the transfer is also 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is just about as sharp as a video image can get before you cut yourself. This is one very finely detailed image, with nothing to complain about save for the most minor instances of edge enhancement on a couple of occasions. The level of shadow detail is superb and the grain is extremely well controlled, especially on the wide panoramic shots with the clear blue sky above. There isn't a hint of low level noise to be seen.

    Colours are extremely well rendered, from the deep blues of the skies, the yellows and browns of the barren terrain,  through to the various shades of the different horses. All are excellently rendered with absolutely no trace of bleeding or oversaturation. This is a very vibrant transfer.

    There are no MPEG artefacts at all and not a trace of a film to video artefact to soil the picture. It is nice to not see a single instance of aliasing anywhere. There are numerous film artefacts throughout, although most are the usual small fleck or spot. A couple of larger blemishes towards the end of the film are the most notable artefacts of all.

    Several subtitle options are available. The English subtitles were sampled extensively and found to be highly accurate and easily read. When the characters are speaking Spanish, the subtitles are automatically invoked.

    This is a single sided, dual layered disc with the layer change occurring at 64:22. It is just perfect, on a fade-to-black scene change and cannot be faulted.

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

Audio

    This DVD offers a very well-produced soundtrack that is amongst the most enveloping and immersive that I have heard, not in the usual crash and bang manner of noisier action flicks, but in the gently ambient sounds of the great outdoors. Bugs, birds, and breezes all emanate from every speaker in a way that makes you feel like you are in the landscape that you are seeing on the screen.

    There is only one audio track available, this being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at a bit rate of 448 kilobits per second.

    Dialogue is well recorded and there are no audio sync problems.

    The score is credited to Marty Stuart. It is very engaging with a Mexican/Latin style that is equally well recorded and provides good fidelity. Not a crash and bang style score, but one that gentle complements the visuals perfectly.

    There is some decent surround activity throughout the entire duration of the film - not in the overly aggressive manner which we are usually accustomed to from a modern soundtrack, but in a more enveloping and immersive way. A constant stream of breezes, crickets, and other nature type noises can be heard from the surrounds during the outdoor scenes. There is particularly good surround use in the opening scenes at 2:04 as the horses gallop right over your head. The obligatory thunderstorm at 21:20 also provides some nice surround activity and subwoofer use.

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

Extras

    Not much in the extras department, in what is essentially a bare-bones title.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Rolling clouds and wind feature as the menu animation and audio.

Dolby Digital Trailer - City

    Time for a new one methinks.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Very basic and select-only filmographies for the main cast and director Billy Bob Thornton.

Theatrical Trailer

    This trailer is presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Total running time is 2:28 minutes. The trailer portrays the film as a definite love story and does not make it appear quite so slow and ponderous. Typical I guess.

Trailer - Bonus

    Bonus Trailers for Finding Forrester and my favourite film of the year, Almost Famous. Both are presented in an aspect of 1.78:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced. The former cops a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the latter a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround track.

R4 vs R1

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

    Apart from minor language and subtitle differences, there is no significant difference between the R4 and the R1 versions of this DVD.

Summary

    Despite a story that is fairly slow and meandering, I did enjoy watching this film, mainly due to the gorgeous cinematography. It's the story, though, that lets it down, promising a great deal but not quite delivering. You get the impression that director Billy Bob Thornton might have bitten off more than he could chew when starting this production. I'd imagine that the first cut of the film, supposedly over three hours long, developed the characters to more of an extent than we see here.

    The video transfer can hardly be faulted. It is very close to reference quality.

    The audio is pretty exceptional as well, offering a truly immersive soundtrack that doesn't resort to loud crashes and bangs to get your attention.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, December 03, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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