Friday, May 5, 2017

3:10 to Yuma (2007) 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
In Arizona in the late 1800s, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Christian Bale), struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the “3:10 to Yuma,” a train that will take the killer to prison. During the grueling expedition, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each other’s respect. However, with Wade’s posse on their trail, the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man’s destiny. From the directing and producing team behind Walk the Line, revisit the Oscar-nominated feature in stunning Full HD resolution and High Dynamic Range (HDR) to experience the Old West in a more vibrant presentation than ever before.
Film (5 out of 5 stars)
Every time that I hear a film is getting remade, I groan a little because most of those efforts never pan out that well and pale in comparison to the original. I was a lot more hopeful about this remake thanks to the people involved - director James Mangold and actors Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, all of whom have done some great work in the past. While many people enjoy the 1957 version of the film, this remake is extremely good.

The overall story is still the same with the two characters's lives intersecting and impacting one another, but Mangold brings a more modern sensibility to this remake. Dan Evans, played by Christian Bale, is barely keeping his family together when we meet him. His ranch is withering away thanks to a combination of luck, dirty tricks from the man he owes money too, and his own weaknesses that have turned his oldest son William (Logan Lerman) somewhat against him. William believes that Dan should fight back, but he hasn't lived long enough to realize that retribution can make things even worse for them.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) one the other hand, is living a life of crime even though he doesn't seem all that interested in it. It seems like that's what he does because he's so good in it but whatever motivated him to do it before seems to have disappeared. He's going through the motions for the sake of his gang, but we get the sense that he'd prefer to be alone to sketch whatever catches his interest. Wade and his gang have been robbing the railroad companies money for awhile and the Pinkertons, led by Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) are after him.

When the Pinkertons set a trap for Wade and his men, the resulting shootout between them happens near Dan's land and when Wade uses Dan's cattle to stop the stagecoach, their combined fate is sealed. In due course, Wade is captured and Dan volunteers to help take him to the town of Contention for $200 where Wade will be handed over and hanged by the authorities. There's not many men available to guard Wade, so the local physician Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk) joins as well. They are well aware that Wade's surviving gang members led by Charley Prince (Ben Foster), will follow them in an attempt to free Wade as soon as possible. As much of a threat as they are, they don't realize that Wade may even be more dangerous as long as he's in their midst. 

3:10 to Yuma is a great film with fantastic performances. Russell Crowe balances the potential menace of his character with his great charisma which results in a nicely layered performance. Christian Bale is also excellent as the desperate but optimistic rancher Dan. He's a man who lived through the Civil War and has no interest in violence even for retribution's sake. Dan is concerned that those ideals and his example have been ignored by his oldest son William, who seems more interested in the flashy and cool Wade who shows no hesitation in taking matters in his own hands. All of the supporting characters are well played especially by Ben Foster as Wade's murderous second hand man, and it's always nice to see Alan Tudyk in a film even though his characters seem to end up the same no matter the movie. The film nicely ratchets up the tension and the final race for the train which involves Dan and Wade evading tons of would be assassins is very well done and exciting. This is an easy movie to recommend.
Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
This new 4K transfer (2.40:1) looks a lot better than the previous Blu-ray I own, but it's not as good as other UHD transfers I've seen. For the most part, the uptick in detail is good but there are some shots in the film that don't fare as well although that may be a limitation of the film stock used and the aesthetics of the filmmakers who were going for a more realistic look. However, there are some truly beautiful scenes where you can see the transfer in the best possible light. This is still much better than the Blu-ray.
Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
3:10 to Yuma's DTS:X mix is stellar and even better than the 7.1 track from the previous release. The dialogue is clear (although low in some scenes) and the sound effects are fresh and crisp. The gunfire, the cattle, and the desperate run of the stagecoach are so present that it feels like you are part of the proceedings. The surround channels do a very nice job of keeping the action bouncing across the room and there's a lot of great immersion thanks to it.
Extras (3 out of 5 stars)
There's a decent amount of extras that have been ported over from the previous release. I wish they were more extensive but I'll take what I can get.

  • Audio Commentary - Director James Mangold talks about how he approached the movie, the message of it, the performances, and why he liked the first film. 
  • Inside Yuma - This is basically a picture in picture pop up that shows up during certain scenes of the movie to offer storyboard comparisons and behind the scenes footage as well. 
  • Historical Timeline of the West - This is an interactive timeline of some of the events that took place during the 19th Century as it relates to the film.
  • Destination: Yuma - This is a twenty-one minute standard issue EPK that offers interviews with the cast and crew about the movie. 
  • From Sea to Shining Sea - This is a twenty minute look at the history of the railroad. 
  • Outlaws, Gangs, and Posses - Historians talk about how it really was back in the old west.
  • 3:10 to Score - This is an eight minute chat with composer Marco Beltrami to talk about his great score for the film. 
  • An Epic Explored - A seven minute chat with director James Mangold about the western genre and why it's still popular. 
  • A Conversation with Elmore Leonard - A six minute chat with the man who started it all -legendary author Elmore Leonard who wrote the short story that was the basis for the films.
  • The Guns of Yuma - A quick look into the guns in the movie and their history.
  • Deleted Scenes 
  • Digital Copy of the Film
  • Trailer
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
3:10 to Yuma is a great film and I think it's the best western since Unforgiven. I really wish more westerns would get made although you could argue that James Mangold's latest film Logan, is essentially a modern day western. Both Crowe and Bale are fantastic in the movie as well as all of the supporting actors and this Blu-ray is definitely an upgrade over the previous Blu-ray release. The video and especially the audio are much improved and the extras have been ported over to this UHD release. This set is highly recommended.

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