Having won much critical acclaim, awards and, most recently Oscars, "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD EN" is now available on blu-ray and dvd from BUENA VISTA. The Coen brothers have rarely made anything crappy, with the exception of "LADYKILLERS," and "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" may end up being their most successful film, but "FARGO" is still their best!
Based on the Cormack McCarthy novel, the film revolves around Llewelyn Moss, a Vietnam vet, coming across murder victims from a drug deal that went awry, in the middle of the West Texas Desert, while hunting Antelope. He keeps the briefcase he finds, loaded with millions, and ends up being pursued by a killer hired by the druglord/businessmen. Javier Bardem won an Oscar for his performance as the killer, Anton Chigurgh, the absolute incarnation of evil. Tommy Lee Jones plays Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, the noble character whose frame of reference offers plenty of insight into the film's title, as well as bookending the film, as he tries to find Llewelyn before the killer does.
The Coen brothers always leave their visual marks on a story, and "NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN" is no exception. While never calling attention to itself as they did in "BLOOD SIMPLE," the imagery and camera movement truly move the film along in a gripping, yet straightforward manner. All of the actors are perfectly cast, and even the smallest role can play an intricate part to the film, eg. Stephen Root." The only thing that separates this film from being the "Masterpiece" so many have labeled it, for this reviewer, lies in its climax. Sure, life doesn't always have a perfectly tight resolution to every scenario, but with such good writers and talent, one has the right to expect something more of an ending than what's offered here.
BUENA VISTA has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray, and 16:9 enhancement for the dvd. The blu-ray image is reference quality. The desert and other dry settings don't offer rich, vibrant colors, but that doesn't prevent the image from being impressive in its authentic look. There's never a moment, wherein the image doesn't look completely natural. Contrast is also excellent, with deep blacks and grays. While the dvd offers exceptional quality, it pales in comparison to the blu-ray in terms of color levels and detail. The dvd offers impressive contrast, but there's noticeably more grain and even some artifacts present in comparison to the nearly flawless blu-ray transfer.
BUENA VISTA has provided a PCM 5.1 mix for the blu-ray. It's also reference quality material! The Coen brothers pay incredible attention to detail as will the viewer. Although it's not an "aggressive" mix, the use and balance of subtle ambient effects along with other effects, and the all important dialogue. Surrounds are impressive when used, but most effects are focused towards the front soundstage. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix offered on the dvd, offers a fine mix, but lacks the dynamic range of the blu-ray. Dialogue, however, so crucial to every scene, is always perfectly focused.
BUENA VISTA has provided several featurettes, primarily short in length, on both formats. Unfortunately, the blu-ray only offers these in standard definition.