Sunday, June 22, 2014

Devil’s Knot Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Based on the true story of the West Memphis Three, the film is directed by Academy Award Nominated Director Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) and stars Academy Award Winners Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) as well as Academy Award Nominee Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone), Golden Globe Nominee Mireille Enos (AMC’s “The Killing”) and Stephen Moyer (HBO’s “True Blood”). May 5, 1993. West Memphis, Arkansas.  Three young boys playing in the nearby woods never come home for dinner.  In the rush to find and convict the killers, police focus on a trio of teenagers suspected of devil worship.  As the mother of one of the murdered boys (Witherspoon) tries to come to grips with this unspeakable tragedy, she is desperate to believe that the killers have been found and will be brought to justice.  It is only when an investigator (Firth) reveals that the evidence doesn’t all add up, that the community is forced to face the reality that the true killer might still be out there.
Film (3 out of 5 stars)
Based on a true story, Devil’s Knot is the story of three boys in West Memphis Arkansas who go missing one day while out riding their bikes. When their bodies are found at the bottom of a pond in the middle of the woods, it looks like it wasn’t just a “regular murder.” It seems that it was based on a satanic sacrifice. After a short investigation, and a confession by one of the accused, the police arrest three teenagers for the murders. An private investigator, Ron Lax (Colin Firth), believes something is amiss with the confession and the arrests. He offers to investigate the case for free and begins asking questions around town.

As the trials move forward, Lax finds inconsistencies in the evidence, in the stories and in the testimony of the police. The mother of one of the boys, Pamela Hobbes (Reese Witherspoon), begins wondering if there is something to the new investigation. While she doesn’t outright question everything, she silently wonders if the boys on trail actually killed her son and his friends. Pamela begins her own quiet investigation and finds her son’s pocket knife hidden somewhere unexpected. She turns it over to Lax, with a brief explanation as to why finding the knife is out of the ordinary.

Lax continues his investigation and wonders why the police didn’t follow up on a lead from the night the boys went missing – a man showed up at a local restaurant covered in blood and mud and went into the bathroom. Before the police arrived at the restaurant, the man disappears and is never found. By the end of the trail, even with all the questions, the three teenagers are convicted and one is sentenced to the death penalty. After almost 20 years in prison, the boys are released under an agreement with prosecutors called an Alford Plea… this means they are released after maintaining their innocence, with the understanding that prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction.

I watched this with others and we all pretty much agreed on the rating. The film was slow at times and dragged a little bit. I thought Reese Witherspoon did a good job playing Pamela, one of the boys’ mothers. She does southern pretty well. Colin Firth was good in his role as the private investigator and I really liked the story. I am a fan of movies that are based on a true story and after reading about the real crime, one has to wonder what really happened, and whether or not the police got it right or wrong.
Video (3 out of 5 stars)
Devil’s Knot is presented in 1080p high-definition widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The picture was clear and easily viewed. Colors were sharp and the greens of the trees in the woods were bright and realistic-looking. Darker scenes were not too dark and still easily seen. Skin tones were natural and I had no problem seeing anything in this film. It was a good movie to watch on Blu-ray.
Audio (3 out of 5 stars)
The DTS Master Audio 5.1 presentation of Devil’s Knot was good. There is not a lot of action and it’s very dialogue-based. Everything is easily heard and I didn’t need to adjust the volume at all. There isn’t much beyond the dialogue, but it’s a good movie to listen to. If needed, subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I enjoyed watching the features. The behind the scenes looks really gave some perspective on the story and on how it was made and the care they took to bring this true story to life. I would have liked to have seen more about the actual crime.
  • The Making of Devil’s Knot – This is a behind-the-scenes look at the film including an interview with the author of the book the film is based on. The director and actors discuss their feelings and the story and the effect it had on them as actors.
  • Getting into Character: The Cast of Devil’s Knot – Another behind-the-scenes look at the film with the actors. The cast talks about their characters and how they based their parts on the real people.
  • Deleted Scenes – Rough cuts of two deleted scenes. None of the scenes were pertinent to the film and were good choices to leave out.
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Devil’s Knot was an interesting movie. Slow at times, the film showed the emotional toll an entire community went through after the deaths of the three young boys and the subsequent arrest of three teenagers. The question remains: were the boys murdered by the teenagers or by some unknown killer? This seems to be something that may never solved and has questions that will never be answered, but it’s something that fans of true crime stories might enjoy.

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