Saturday, February 11, 2012

Texas Killing Fields Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Inspired by true events, this tense and haunting thriller follows Detective Souder (Sam Worthington), a homicide detective in a small Texan town, and his partner, transplanted New York City cop Detective Heigh (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they track a sadistic serial killer dumping his victims’ mutilated bodies in a nearby marsh locals call “The Killing Fields.”  Though the swampland crime scenes are outside their jurisdiction, Detective Heigh is unable to turn his back on solving the gruesome murders. Despite his partner’s warnings, he sets out to investigate the crimes. Before long, the killer changes the game and begins hunting the detectives, teasing them with possible clues at the crime scenes while always remaining one step ahead. When familiar local girl Anne (ChloĆ« Grace Moretz) goes missing, the detectives find themselves racing against time to catch the killer and save the young girl’s life.

Film (2 out of 5 stars)

Detective Souder (Sam Worthington) is a homicide detective in a small Texas town.  While he is a native of the area, his partner Detective High (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is originally from New York City.  No matter how long Detective High lives and works in Texas, just being from New York City means the locals will never give him the respect Detective High has earned by simply  being born in the area. 

Detectives High and Souder are on the trail of a serial killer that is dumping bodies in an area of marshland known as the Killing Fields.  Souder's ex-wife (Jessica Chastain) helps bring the cases to Detective High's attention.  Many of the crimes are outside of their jurisdiction but Detective High is unwilling to accept the limits of his boundaries.  Soon the killer starts hunting the detectives and a young girl Anne (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is well known to the detectives ends up missing.  Inspired by true events, the detectives race to catch the killer before she ends up buried in the killing fields like the other victims.

Texas Killing Fields is my usual type of movie since  I like serial killer flicks and cop thrillers. i was looking forward to this one but it missed the mark with me and I'm not exactly sure what went wrong.  I guess the main problem was that I never really cared for any of the characters in the film.  I never got invested in whether or not anyone made it all the way to the end of the movie because the characters weren't defined well.  It wasn't necessarily because of bad writing and no one was guilty of bad acting, but it just didn't hold my interest. Texas Killing Fields just failed to go anywhere and it felt under-developed.  Even though these murders were taking place the back-story of the crimes wasn't properly developed which was the whole point of the movie and what should have made me care whether or not the the murders could be stopped.

Video (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Texas Killing Fields is presented in widescreen 2.40:1 ratio.  Overall the film has a very intentionally washed out look.  Skin tones look natural and consistent  but colors look fairly washed out and the overall palette is pretty drab which may have been an intention creative decision.   The night scenes weren't always as detailed as I would have liked and I did struggle to see the action at night in the killing field.  The daytime shots showed more clarity but overall it appears to be a decent transfer.

Audio (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Texas Killing fields is presented in Dolby True HD 7.1.  Dialogue levels are clear and consistent throughout.  Environmental elements added to the richness of the soundtrack.  This is a fairly subdued soundtrack which could have been better but it rises to the occasion when needed for the couple of action scenes.  Overall, it was not a spectacular audio experience, but sufficient for this film.

Special Features (1 out of 5 stars)

Not only is there only one measly special feature, but to make matters worse, it’s also hard to find since it can't be located through the main menu.  You have to select audio where you can find it there.

  • Audio Commentary - This commentary features the film's director and write discussing the film and its history.  While a range of topics is covered, there's also a significant amount of dead air than I'm not used to hearing in an audio commentary. You can almost just watch the movie uninterrupted.
  • Trailer

Final Thoughts (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)

Texas Killing Fields just turned out to be one of those movies I never got into which is surprising since it was directed by Michael Mann's daughter who should have been a natural in this genre.  The movie wasn't terrible but it should have been a lot better than it was.  Something about it just wasn't for me.  I'm very curious to find out if I'm totally alone on this, and if other people really liked it because it has everything I normally would have liked. I usually love a good dark, creepy killer movie. 

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