Appaloosa DVD Cover Art
Appaloosa BRAY Cover Art
SRP $35.99 2.40:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 NEW LINE/WARNER BROS

Ed Harris directs, stars, and co-writes "APPALOOSA," available on dvd and blu-ray from WARNER BROS.  During its best moments, "APPALOOSA" evokes memories of the superior "OPEN RANGE," and while the intentionally understated dialogue and deliberately paced drama often works well in building up the right amount of tension and payoff, the direction can meander at times, almost bringing the film to a halt. Harris plays Virgil Cole, gun for hire, whose most recent job brings him to a small town in order to protect it from the greed of violent rancher, Randall Bragg(Jeremy Irons).  Luckily, for Virgil, and the audience, he's got a trusted sidekick in his deputy marshal, Everett Hitch(Viggo Mortensen). Mortensen continues to prove he's one of the best actors around with a body of work completely overlooked. He brings the exact kind of power to his role that Val Kilmer brought to "TOMBSTONE," elevating it much higher than it deserved to be, without him. 

While the introduction of the independent, ahead of her time, character, Allison French(Renee Zellweger), at first seems to be pushing the film into a tired direction, she actually broadens the scope of the story at just the right time, and with just the right balance, without coming across as hackneyed.  "APPALOOSA" comes close to being too restrained in a few spots, but, then quickly rights itself up, and throws some curve balls that result in a thoroughly entertaining experience, when the film's finally ended. It may feel like it takes a bit longer to get to the grand conclusion than one first wanted, but some trips are worth the time for the ultimate destination. "Appaloosa" is just such an example.

NEW LINE/WARNER BROS has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/VC-1 blu-ray and 16:9 enhanced dvd.  The overall level of detail on blu-ray, is impressive. However, the image is softer than typically found on many of the superior WARNER BLU-RAY releases. Colors vary in intensity from scene to scene, but typically feel more subdued than we'd have preferred. Detail, however, especially in close-ups, is remarkable. While the dvd offers similar color levels, it obviously can't come close to the level of detail that this blu-ray offers. The blu-ray offers exceptional contrast, with inky blacks, providing sensational depth in darker scenes. In scene-to-scene comparisons with the dvd, fine detail is almost completely lost on dvd. While the overriding softness of the blu-ray prevents it from being reference quality, its many jump-off-the-screen depth-filled moments, make it a title worthy of placement in any film lover's collection. The dvd, while not "bad," doesn't rank up there with the best of WARNER/NEW LINE dvd releases.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for dvd and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for blu-ray, are offered.  The mix is similar in effectiveness, on both formats. While the lossy TrueHD mix offers deeper bass, both mixes are intentionally restrained and equally effective. The subtle nuances Harris uses to delineate pending conflict, are played out effectively and with surprising impact.  They're both great mixes, demonstrating that a mix's impact doesn't rely on it having to be aggressive, only creative.

The same extras, save a digital copy offered with the blu-ray, are presented on both formats. The commentary with Harris and the writer is really dull and not recommended, even for hard-core commentary fans. The deleted scenes, surprisingly, added important context to the narrative, and, arguably, should've been left in via-seamless branching option. The featurettes are so-so.