Monday, January 30, 2012

Quigley Down Under Blu-ray Review

Arriving in Australia with nothing more than a saddle and his prized six-foot Sharps rifle, American sharpshooter Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) thinks he’s been hired to kill off wild dogs. But when he realizes, instead, that his mission is murder – to “eliminate” the Aborigines from wealthy cattle baron Elliot Marston’s (Alan Rickman) land – Quigley refuses and quickly turns from hunter to hunted. Forced to wage a savage war against his former employer, Quigley proves that no one gets the best of a steely-eyed American gunfighter – no one, that is, except the crazy and mysterious beauty named Cora (Laura San Giacomo) who rides by his side and insists on calling him Roy.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Tom Selleck plays a cowboy named Matthew Quigley who has traveled from America to Australia for a job offered by Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman).  He knows nothing about the job but he was paid well just to show up.  When he arrives in Australia, he sees a group of men trying to force a woman known as Crazy Cora (Laura San Giacomo) into a wagon against her will, so Quigley steps in and fights the men until they realize that he’s the man they were sent to pick up.  They take him to meet Marston who it turns out is a huge fan of stories of the Old West and especially gunslingers.  Marston is especially impressed with Quigley after seeing his skill with his 1874 Sharps Buffalo Rifle.  Quigley soon learns that the job he traveled all that way for was to kill local Aborigines.  After refusing the job in his own inimitable way (punching Marston through a window), Quigley is soon captured by Marston’s men and taken out into the desert along with Crazy Cora to be left for dead.
Quigley manages to eliminate the two men, but their situation is still desperate since they have no food or water and they don’t have a clue as to where they are.  After wandering the desert, they are rescued by Aborigines who nurse them back to health and share their culture and customs with Quigley and Cora.  It isn’t long before they witness Marston’s men killing some Aborigines.  Quigley manages to kill three of the four men but the other one escapes to warn Marston that Quigley is still alive.  Throughout their time together, Cora has pretty much lived up to her reputation as being crazy but she soon shares a personal tragedy that explains her behavior.
En route back to civilization, they encounter Martson’s men driving Aborigines off of  a cliff.  Recognizing that Marston needs to be stopped and he’s the best suited to do so, Quigley leaves Cora and a baby that survived the fall in a safe place while he travels to a nearby town to get ammunition.  While in town, Quigley learns that word of his deeds has spread and that he’s become a hero to the Aboriginals.  Marston’s men discover Quigley in the town and open fire on him, not worrying about killing innocent civilians.  After escaping a burning building and killing all but one of Marston’s men, he orders the last survivor to return to Marston to tell him that Quigley is coming for him.  cornering him in a burning building. Escaping through a skylight, Quigley kills all but one of Marston’s men, whom he sends back to Marston to tell him that Quigley is coming for him.  Pretty soon it will end in a showdown with Quigley against Marston and all of his men in a fight to the death.
This is a fun movie that does a nice job of tweaking the traditional western by setting it in Australia.  The cast is also excellent with Tom Selleck proving to be a natural for westerns and Alan Rickman turns in another villainous role that he does so well.  The rest of the cast also does a good job but the main draw of the movie is the two lead actors.  Director Simon Wincer who had previously directed the well regarded Lonesome Dove miniseries also does a great job here.  The movie is full of beautiful locations that were captured well and the only real problem the movie has is that  the Aboriginal scenes drag the movie down and are a little too formulaic.  Their inclusion also brings in the concept of outback magic which really doesn’t work well with the rest of the movie.  The movie would have been a lot stronger without so much focus placed on those aspects.  Although the movie had been around for a long time and at one point was going to star Steve McQueen and later Clint Eastwood, but Tom Selleck is the best choice for this role with his affable personality being a a perfect fit for Quigley and the movie.

Video (4 out of 5 stars)

This 1080p (2:34:1) transfer looks very good for a catalog title and it’s a far cry better than the previous DVD release.  This transfer looks great and it’s full of impressive colors and detail that is so fine that you will be able to see every hair in Tom Selleck’s mustache.  I was honestly surprised that this looks as good as it does.  There’s a light layer of grain present that gives it a nice film-like look that hasn’t been overly scrubbed by DNR.  Black levels are also appealingly dark and solid and contrast is spot on.  This is a superb transfer that makes the most of its transition to Blu-ray.

Audio (3 out of 5 stars)

Quigley Down Under’s DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix is also pretty good but it would have been nice if the studio had taken the time to create a new 5.1 mix to go along with the improved picture quality.  Despite its limitations, this mix still does a nice job delivering the dialogue and action from the film.  Dialogue is clear and well presented and the the mix does a nice job delivering the gunfire and other effects as well.  Basil Poledouris’ score also sounds great and it’s a nice reminder that his scores should be remembered for more than Conan, Robocop, and the The Hunt for Red October. While a more immersive mix would have been appreciated, this mix is pretty decent.

Special Features (2 out of 5 stars)

There isn’t a whole lot here which is a shame especially considering that as short as these extras are, they aren’t even in high definition with the exception of the trailer.
  • The Rebirth of the Western – At a little over seven minutes, there isn’t much to this but we do hear some comments from the stars and the director about the movie, as well as some behind the scenes footage.
  • TV Spots – Two different spots including: “Set Your Sights” and “Bucket.”
  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts (3 out of 5 stars)

I’ve never understood why Tom Selleck never became as big a star in movies as he was on TV since movies like this provide a showcase for his charm, talent, and good humor that should have propelled him even further.  Perhaps if he hadn’t been prevented from playing Indiana Jones due to contractual obligations he would have been huge, but I’d like to think that Harrison Ford was destined to play that role.  In any case, Selleck does a great job in movies like this and when you combine Alan Rickman doing one of his signature evil roles, you’ve got a fun time to be had!
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