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Blu-ray Reviews

True Grit (2010) Blu-Ray



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#1 of 22 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted June 06 2011 - 03:22 PM

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True Grit


Studio: Paramount Pictures
Year: 2010
US Rating: Rated PG-13 For Some Intense Sequences of Western Violence Including Disturbing Images
Film Length: 110 Mins


Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital/Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, and Portuguese



Release Date: June 7, 2011

Review Date: June 6, 2011


“You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God”


Introduction


True Grit is a rich, familiar story of murder and revenge set against the still tempering wildness of the American West, but the fields of this story are flush with characters of delightful depth and definition, in pursuit of justice – in its emerging form – and each with much to offer and much to learn. In the hands of two of the most courageous and important filmmakers working today, Joel and Ethan Coen, author Charles Portis’ novel is the recipient of another fine cinematic translation.


The Film: 4.5 out of 5


Charged with claiming her father’s remains in the township of Fort Smith following his murder, young Mattie Ross seeks to employ the considerable tracking talents of the irascible Rooster Cogburn; a U.S. Marshal renowned for his delivery of justice, often with the unforgiving fortitude of a gun, and his gruff, drunken disposition. Young Mattie, a brazen 14 year old with a keen intellect and a sharp tongue, seeks revenge against Tom Chaney, the ruthless outlaw who gunned down her father, leaving her and siblings fatherless and her mother a widow. Cogburn begrudgingly takes on the task of tracking Chaney down – venturing into dangerous Indian Territory accompanied by Mattie, insistent upon being present when Chaney is caught, and a cocksure Texas Ranger looking to snag Chaney first and haul him to the lone star state to answer for earlier crimes.


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When it was announced that True Grit, one of the legendary John Wayne’s best films, was to be remade, one could almost sense the global furrowing of brows. Hearing that it would be crafted by the hands of Joel and Ethan Coen, gifted writers and directors of American classics Fargo, No Country for Old Men, Miller’s Crossing among others, curiosity was piqued. Perhaps none could have foreseen the extent to which the Coen Brother’s would master the material, delivering a wholly original perspective on the tale while remaining faithful and respectful of the original John Wayne classic and the novel from which it was born. Remakes are a prickly subject, for every person intrigued by what a new vision could bring to even the most revered of classics, there are choruses of folk dismayed at the possibility – or the reasoning – behind such moves. True Grit demonstrates that with the right care, cast, and crafting, remake need not be a dirty word.


Great westerns, of which this 2010 remake certainly can be considered, care more for the characters at the core and soul of the story than any preoccupation with grand set piece spectacles or complicated mystery of drama – though such things are not precluded. The joy of the greatest westerns is unconditionally embroiled in the wit, wisdom, mystique, or square jaw of the leading figure – or group – and their labor and task to protect, pursue or avenge. Clint Eastwood occupied that role in a number of the very best westerns, as did John Wayne, Gary Cooper, James Stewart and others too. In recent years, Russell Crowe has delivered a fine performance in 3:10 to Yuma, Kevin Costner rode strong in Open Range, and now Jeff Bridges has delivered one of his most superb performances as Rooster Cogburn.


John Wayne received his one and only Oscar for his performance as the grouchy Cogburn – a performance that was considered over-the-top by many at the time, and Jeff Bridges was nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award though he lost to Colin Firth from The King’s Speech; a shame. Bridges crafts a magnificently likeable, acerbic and mean-spirited U.S. Marshal, physically weighted by poor-health and a drunkards affliction, but his shooting is no-less for the wear. Bridges delivers a master class performance, pulling from within himself a person quite unlike the Jeff Bridges we have seen throughout his career. As young Mattie is newcomer Hailee Steinfeld in a performance that defies expectations for one so young (she was just 14 during filming, the same as her character – as a comparison, Kim Darby in the original was nearing 22 when she played the same role). Steinfeld’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress was absolutely deserved with one caveat – she should have been nominated in the Best Actress category for her presence and performance is integral to almost every scene. Matt Damon’s portrayal as the more kept and particular Texas Ranger, La Boeuf, is a delightful spoil to Bridges ruffled Cogburn. Balancing the comedic and peculiar nature of the proud ranger with the dramatic tones surrounding many scenes, required finding the line of parody to understand yet not cross, and Damon walks that line with aplomb. Josh Brolin gives Tom Chaney a fool’s demeanor bolstered by a sadistic streak. His presence in the film may be limited, but he makes that presence felt. An almost unrecognizable Barry Pepper infuses Lucky Ned Pepper – the gang leader with whom Chaney has hitched his wagon – with a serious menace and believable respectability. It’s a fleeting but terrific supporting performance.


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The Coen Brothers are great filmmakers and have crafted and presented yet another great film. Their preoccupation with the intimacy of characters against dramatic natural desolation is quite unlike any other filmmakers working today. Each scene is crisp with beautiful cinematography – courtesy of Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC – and riddled with a sense of humor and mesmerizing grit sewn together with a simply brilliant script. The pacing is brisker than their last serious outing (No Country for Old Men), moving through the story with an organic step, pausing to instruct us only on the nature of the characters we will understand and appreciate through the prism of conversation to pass the time and a few brief scenes of brutality. True Grit is an absolutely wonderful piece of filmmaking and certainly one of the best films of 2010.



The Video:  4.5 out of 5


True Grit is presented in 1080p High Definition, with an MPEG-4 AVC codec. This transfer is gorgeous. The amount of detail is a sight to behold yet there remains the film quality without any needless digital tinkering or unwarranted interference. The unforgiving west is not lush, but the wheat-golden grasses and weeds strike a beautiful contrast against the grey/blue of Cogburn’s clothes and his Golden brown horse. Night scenes appear bathed in natural light from fire – inside and out – and the limitlessly deep blacks swarming such scenes are lovely. A stunning transfer.



The Sound: 5 out of 5


Carter Burwell – longtime musical collaborator with the Coen Brothers – delights in orchestral scores of lyrical minimalism, and through the excellence of this 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, can be enjoyed with glorious precision. Though heavily a dialogue piece, True Grit fills the surrounds with the open air of the untamed territories, the snap of gunfire in open spaces, and the thunderous rumble of horses and shotguns when the moment calls for it. Throughout there is an unmistakable clarity and perfection to this audio. Absolutely no issues and every opportunity is fully embraced to create and audio showing of the terrific sound design.



The Extras: 3.5 out of 5


Blu-ray:

Mattie’s True Grit (5:13): Hailee Steinfeld discusses auditioning, getting, and exploring the role of the plucky Mattie Ross.


From Bustles to Buckskin—Dressing for the 1880s (8:02): Costume Designer Mary Zophres shares her approach to the costumes adorning the characters throughout the classic western time, and Jeff Bridges discuss finding the perfect look and style for the character.


Colts, Winchesters & Remingtons: The Guns of a Post-Civil War Western (4:41): The weaponry is quite integral to the story and the research performed – mining the original Charles Portis novel – to get the guns and holsters and other paraphernalia right.


Re-Creating Fort Smith (11:20): Robert Graf (executive producer) and the production designer, art director, and others discuss redressing an existing town to fit the timeframe of the story.


The Cast (5:25): A look at the absolutely grand cast assembled for this new American classic – the Coen brothers first western – and the roles they so masterfully inhabit. The seasoned actors share their appreciation for the skill of newcomer Hailee.


Charles Portis—The Greatest Writer You’ve Never Heard Of… (30:54): An affectionate look at Charles Portis, author of True Grit – with reflections by historians, fans such as Dwight Yokam and Nora Ephron among others. This surprisingly thoughtful special feature peeks into this mythical writer known as much for his abstaining from the limelight as for his works themselves, covers his beginning as an author and his writing of highly regarding novels.


The Cinematography of True Grit (2:57): Roger Deakins discusses his craft and this special feature showcases some of his most spectacular – and disarmingly simple – scenes using light and the frame of natural beauty to create wonderful shots. This is


Theatrical Trailer


DVD:

Feature Film


Digital Copy


Final Thoughts


As rare as it is, the Coen Brother’s remake of True Grit exceeds the original in almost every way. It is a tenacious tale with absolutely top-notch performances and offers a flawless technical and artistic presentation of a western tale. It is a superb piece of filmmaking and should be a part of any serious film-lovers collection.


Highly Recommended!



Overall 4.5 out of 5



Neil Middlemiss

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#2 of 22 OFFLINE   Malcolm R

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Posted June 07 2011 - 05:57 AM


The Video:  4.5 out of 5


True Grit is presented in 1080p High Definition, with an MPEG-4 AVC codec. This transfer is gorgeous. The amount of detail is a sight to behold yet there remains the film quality without any needless digital tinkering or unwarranted interference. The unforgiving west is not lush, but the wheat-golden grasses and weeds strike a beautiful contrast against the grey/blue of Cogburn’s clothes and his Golden brown horse. Night scenes appear bathed in natural light from fire – inside and out – and the limitlessly deep blacks swarming such scenes are lovely. A stunning transfer.


Based on this description ("gorgeous...a sight to behold...beautiful...lovely...stunning"), I have to wonder why the .5 deduction?


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#3 of 22 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted June 07 2011 - 07:17 AM

Good question. Not sure I have a good answer except to say I typically go with my gut after I have written the description and that's what my gut told me based on my experience watching it (on two TV's to be sure).


Having said that, I think I have only given a 5 score for video one time before in my nearly 300 reviews.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Malcolm R 



Based on this description ("gorgeous...a sight to behold...beautiful...lovely...stunning"), I have to wonder why the .5 deduction?





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#4 of 22 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 07 2011 - 07:19 AM

I got this BR title today too and I'll be watching it in next 24 hours which would be the third time I viewed this film.  Thank you for this fine review and I'll post my comments about the BRD later here.









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#5 of 22 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted June 07 2011 - 09:01 AM

Spent a $1.63 for this at RedBox today, going to watch it tonight. I am not a Jeff Bridges fan but I am curious as to why people rave about the girl in this, and I love me a good Western. Hopefully this is one of'em.


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#6 of 22 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted June 07 2011 - 11:51 AM

I'm just the opposite--I like Bridges but can't stand Westerns--and I thought True Grit was amazing.  One of last year's best movies and totally deserving of the acclaim it's received.


 

 


#7 of 22 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted June 07 2011 - 11:55 AM


Originally Posted by Neil Middlemiss 

Having said that, I think I have only given a 5 score for video one time before in my nearly 300 reviews.



What disc earned the 5?


 

 


#8 of 22 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted June 07 2011 - 12:49 PM

 


What disc earned the 5?

I actually found three that I rated 5 for video quality, Elizabeth (HD-DVD), The Ten Commandments (restoration), and How to Train Your Dragon.
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#9 of 22 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted June 07 2011 - 01:46 PM

Whoops.



#10 of 22 OFFLINE   AlexChaplin

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Posted June 08 2011 - 02:05 AM

Beautiful, 6



#11 of 22 OFFLINE   Bryan Tuck

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Posted June 08 2011 - 08:48 AM

Thanks, Neil! Great review, though I do have to make one small correction. Hailee Steinfeld was actually 13 at the time of filming; she just turned 14 last December as the movie was coming out.


One terrific performance in a film full of other terrific things.


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#12 of 22 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted June 10 2011 - 01:14 PM

Watched the Bd release last night.  This was my first viewing of the film.  The transfer was pretty flawless and is an easy recommendation for A/V quality.



(I probably should post the rest of this in the Movies thread, but since I was asked a little while back to post my thoughts, the recent thread seems like a better choice.)


I tried to avoid comparisons to the original work while viewing the film, but this proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.  I would have probably enjoyed the film more if I had never seen the original version - but that ship sailed a long time ago.  I believe that each of the films has its merits and I'm happy to own the 1969 and 2010 versions.  Pros and cons...


I would rate the overall level of acting to be superior in the remake due to the contributions of Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin.  Having said that I prefer Strother Martin and Robert Duvall in the original and it is kind of toss up for me between Bridges and Wayne with each actor bringing their own strengths to the character of Rooster Cogburn.  As much as I admire the work of Roger Deakins I was disappointed with the desaturated color palette that seems to be so prevalent these days in contemporary cinematography.  (That was probably the biggest negative factor affecting my enjoyment of the remake.)  I definitely prefer the rich color of the original film, a style that I associate with traditional Westerns.  To be fair there are some nice compositions in this film and I do like the stylized opening that depicts the death of Mattie's father.  I think I prefer the finale of the remake although it kind of feels like it belongs in a Jane Campion film.  Posted Image


I've been viewing a lot of Westerns lately and while this is a solid film, unless it grows on me - it probably will not crack my favorite's list.  Of course, I would not rate the original as an all time favorite Western either.  Both film versions are entertaining and well worth viewing but that is all (for me.)


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#13 of 22 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted June 10 2011 - 01:40 PM

Why did I buy this. I must be turning into an impulse buyer. I want to enjoy it, but I can't. This new version doesn't hold up for me now that the novelty has worn off. The Coens took the spirit and heroism out of the novel, and invested the story with their own peculiar energy and inappropriate fetishes. Some (I said some as in not all) of the shifts in interpretation and characterization are simply not suggested nor supported by the novel, no matter what others may say. The digital intermediate facilitated adding CGI weather and horses, but it also dimmed the exposure and flattened the color. Nothing looks real in this film. It feels artificial. Even though it looks sharper under the luminosity of a home monitor.


Forgive me, but Neil Middlemiss' statement above that "the Coen brothers remakes exceeds the original in every way" is just ludicrous.



#14 of 22 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted June 10 2011 - 02:30 PM

I heard this blurb somewhere: "You've seen the movie, now see the book."  The point being the remake was more faithful to the book.  It has been many years since I've read the novel, but I think this movie is closer to the book than the original movie.  Being more faithful to the original doesn't make it the better movie of the two.  But I believe the remake is significantly better.  The original had several character actors turning in good work (Strother Martin, I enjoyed very much).  John Wayne had fun in his parade float of a role.  Glen Campbell proved he couldn't act.


The remake is better, IMHO.  Bridges is excellent and doesn't attempt to be The Duke.  Damon and Brolin are also excellent.  Hailee Steinfeld is just superb and I agree she should have been nominated as Best Actress.  She really lifts the movie up from good to excellent.  And the remake doesn't have Glen Campbell.


Which movie is better is debatable, and reasonable people can agree to disagree.  To claim that another's opinion is "ludicrous" sure doesn't leave room for discussion.


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#15 of 22 OFFLINE   Neil Middlemiss

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Posted June 10 2011 - 02:34 PM

Why did I buy this. I must be turning into an impulse buyer. I want to enjoy it, but I can't. This new version doesn't hold up for me now that the novelty has worn off. The Coens took the spirit and heroism out of the novel, and invested the story with their own peculiar energy and inappropriate fetishes. Some (I said some as in not all) of the shifts in interpretation and characterization are simply not suggested nor supported by the novel, no matter what others may say. The digital intermediate facilitated adding CGI weather and horses, but it also dimmed the exposure and flattened the color. Nothing looks real in this film. It feels artificial. Even though it looks sharper under the luminosity of a home monitor.


Forgive me, but Neil Middlemiss' statement above that "the Coen brothers remakes exceeds the original in every way" is just ludicrous.

From all that I can gather, neither of us is alone in our opinions ( which surprised me before I actually saw the remake). :) I wonder how you interpret the original films shifts from the source material and if you consider them as unfavourably?
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#16 of 22 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 10 2011 - 02:54 PM



Originally Posted by Walter Kittel 

Watched the Bd release last night.  This was my first viewing of the film.  The transfer was pretty flawless and is an easy recommendation for A/V quality.



(I probably should post the rest of this in the Movies thread, but since I was asked a little while back to post my thoughts, the recent thread seems like a better choice.)


I tried to avoid comparisons to the original work while viewing the film, but this proved to be more difficult than I anticipated.  I would have probably enjoyed the film more if I had never seen the original version - but that ship sailed a long time ago.  I believe that each of the films has its merits and I'm happy to own the 1969 and 2010 versions.  Pros and cons...


I would rate the overall level of acting to be superior in the remake due to the contributions of Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin.  Having said that I prefer Strother Martin and Robert Duvall in the original and it is kind of toss up for me between Bridges and Wayne with each actor bringing their own strengths to the character of Rooster Cogburn.  As much as I admire the work of Roger Deakins I was disappointed with the desaturated color palette that seems to be so prevalent these days in contemporary cinematography.  (That was probably the biggest negative factor affecting my enjoyment of the remake.)  I definitely prefer the rich color of the original film, a style that I associate with traditional Westerns.  To be fair there are some nice compositions in this film and I do like the stylized opening that depicts the death of Mattie's father.  I think I prefer the finale of the remake although it kind of feels like it belongs in a Jane Campion film.  Posted Image


I've been viewing a lot of Westerns lately and while this is a solid film, unless it grows on me - it probably will not crack my favorite's list.  Of course, I would not rate the original as an all time favorite Western either.  Both film versions are entertaining and well worth viewing but that is all (for me.)


- Walter.


Thank you Walter for your film comments.


From my perspective, I can't agree with those that say the remake is clearly superior to the original.  IMO, I think both films have their strong and weak points and neither of them is what I would classify as a great western.  I think this film is overrated by some, maybe, because it's a Coen Brothers film.  However, I'm glad it was made and I wish more westerns are forthcoming because of its boxoffice success.







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#17 of 22 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted June 10 2011 - 02:55 PM




Originally Posted by Richard--W 

Why did I buy this. I must be turning into an impulse buyer. I want to enjoy it, but I can't. This new version doesn't hold up for me now that the novelty has worn off. The Coens took the spirit and heroism out of the novel, and invested the story with their own peculiar energy and inappropriate fetishes. Some (I said some as in not all) of the shifts in interpretation and characterization are simply not suggested nor supported by the novel, no matter what others may say. The digital intermediate facilitated adding CGI weather and horses, but it also dimmed the exposure and flattened the color. Nothing looks real in this film. It feels artificial. Even though it looks sharper under the luminosity of a home monitor.


Forgive me, but Neil Middlemiss' statement above that "the Coen brothers remakes exceeds the original in every way" is just ludicrous.


That's his opinion, so please don't disrespect those, who's opinion runs contrary to yours.







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#18 of 22 OFFLINE   Rick Thompson

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Posted June 10 2011 - 03:02 PM

Originally Posted by Richard--W 

Why did I buy this. I must be turning into an impulse buyer. I want to enjoy it, but I can't. This new version doesn't hold up for me now that the novelty has worn off. The Coens took the spirit and heroism out of the novel, and invested the story with their own peculiar energy and inappropriate fetishes. Some (I said some as in not all) of the shifts in interpretation and characterization are simply not suggested nor supported by the novel, no matter what others may say. The digital intermediate facilitated adding CGI weather and horses, but it also dimmed the exposure and flattened the color. Nothing looks real in this film. It feels artificial. Even though it looks sharper under the luminosity of a home monitor.


Forgive me, but Neil Middlemiss' statement above that "the Coen brothers remakes exceeds the original in every way" is just ludicrous.


Amen, brother.  I saw this in the theater, and it's a "why?" remake.  With the exception of Matt Damon's La Boef, the original film is superior in just about every way.  I did like Steinfeld, but liked Darby also.  I don't like the intentional browning of everything.  A Western should have some grandeur and panorama.  Almost none here.


As for Jeff Bridges, he's not a patch on John Wayne.  I would, however, have given him the Oscar for "Best Performance by an Actor Going Out of His Way to Be Totally Unintelligible and Succeeding Completely."  Needless to say, I bought the 1969 version but not the remake.




#19 of 22 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted June 10 2011 - 03:20 PM


Originally Posted by Rick Thompson 


Amen, brother.  I saw this in the theater, and it's a "why?" remake.




No one appreciates minimalism and austerity in storytelling more than I do. I can see how the novel suggests a different approach than that taken by the original film. A new version or a more literal version is not a bad idea by any means. But this isn't it. The gist of the novel isn't there. Too many quirks and eccentricities by the Coens get in the way.


I don't know what Jeff Bridges is saying half the time, either. I get a kick out of your expression "he's not a patch on John Wayne" which is paraphrasing a line in the original film. You know your True Grit.



#20 of 22 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted June 10 2011 - 07:13 PM

I've never seen the original and have no plans too, not a John Wayne fan at all. I did not expect to like this but after watching it the other night, I loved it. PQ and SQ are fantastic.


What I really would like to know why they went so cheap with the last 15 minutes of the film; all that green screen, horribly looking horseback riding. The film was so well done up to that point.

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