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Mark Steven Johnson
John Travolta, Robert De Niro, Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Olin, Diana Lyubenova, Kalin Sarmenov
Writing Credits:
Evan Daugherty

The purest form of war is one on one.

Deep in the Appalachian mountains, a reclusive American military veteran (Robert De Niro) and a European tourist (John Travolta) strike up an unlikely friendship. But when the tourist's true intentions come to light, what follows is a tense battle across some of America's most forbidding landscape proving the old adage: the purest form of war is one-on-one.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$27.713 thousand on 13 screens.
Domestic Gross
$27.713 thousand.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 90 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 8/20/2013

• Featurette
• Trailer and Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Killing Season [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 27, 2013)

In 1998, a cinematic pairing of Robert De Niro and John Travolta would’ve qualified as “A”-list material. In 2013? Not so much, as Killing Season got such a limited theatrical release that it essentially qualifies as “direct-to-video” fare.

That concept doesn’t fill me with much hope, but the star power involved intrigued me enough to plop Season into my Blu-ray player. A flashback shows us elements of the 1990s Bosnian War and the efforts of NATO forces in that area. One aspect of this conflict involves the execution of some Serbian prisoners.

The lone survivor, Emil Kovac (Travolta), stews for 18 years until he learns the identities of those who orchestrated these killings. With that evidence in hand, he declares that he’ll go “hunting” and we leap to the Appalachian Mountains, where retired Colonel Benjamin Ford (De Niro) leads a reclusive life; even when his son Chris (Milo Ventimiglia) invites Ford to his infant’s baptism, the former soldier declines.

When Ford’s truck breaks down, he encounters Kovac, a wanderer who claims to be a tourist on a sabbatical. After Kovac helps revive the vehicle, they part ways, but the arrival of a thunderstorm inspires Ford to invite the visitor into his home. The pair bond and Kovac asks Ford to accompany him on a hunting expedition the next day. As this develops, we learn about Kovac’s true intentions.

Kovac’s heavily telegraphed true intentions, that is. Season gets off to a bad start due to its 1990s flashback, as that sequence reveals too much about the Kovac character. Since we see him as one of the Serbian prisoners, we get a sense of his background before he shows up in America. This makes us suspicious of his motives from Minute One.

Without that opening, Season would’ve mustered a stronger sense of mystery. Perhaps the filmmakers felt they needed the prologue to set up tension, and I kind of sort of almost get that; since we feel from the get-go that Kovac desires vengeance, this adds a “ticking bomb” feel of sorts.

But whatever positives that contributes become outweighed by the lack of question about Kovac’s motives. When he reveals himself to Ford, wouldn’t this work better if it caught the audience by surprise as well? I think so, especially because our foreknowledge makes the preceding segments tedious; the long “bonding” sequence feels like pointless stalling.

Once Ford learns of Kovac’s intentions, we go into cat and mouse mode for much of the rest of the film. That sounds like an exciting proposition, as one might expect fireworks from the conflict between two notable actors.

Alas, no real drama results. The story attempts a seesaw path in which the man with the upper hand changes on a frequent basis, but rather than add suspense, this just becomes tiresome. We already essentially know who will “win” in the end, so all the back and forth lacks conviction.

Neither of the famous leads does much with their roles either. We get a battle of unconvincing accents from two actors who don’t seem especially excited to involve themselves in this project. While I won’t say Travolta or De Niro appears bored, I also can’t claim that they bring any zest to their parts. They show up, read their lines and go home.

Which is a shame, as I think Killing Season possesses some promise as a basic “mano-a-mano” drama. It just lacks the coherence and the thrust to fulfill its ambitions in that regard.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

Killing Season appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a fairly positive presentation.

Sharpness was almost always strong, though interiors could be a little soft. These elements didn’t look significantly ill-defined, but they lacked great clarity. Still, most of the movie showed appropriate delineation. I noticed no jaggies or moiré effects, and edge enhancement never manifested itself. In addition, the film failed to display any print defects.

Like most modern action flicks, this one opted for stylized hues; teal, orange and amber dominated. Within those constraints, the colors seemed fine and they showed appropriate range. Blacks were dark and full, but shadows were occasionally a bit heavy; they weren’t terribly opaque, but they could’ve been clearer. All this added up to a good but not great image.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Killing Season worked well. Various action elements offered the most active use of the spectrum. These scenes didn’t emerge on a frequent basis, but when they appeared, they utilized the soundscape in an engrossing manner, and music made active use of the different channels.

Audio quality pleased. Speech was concise and natural, without edginess or other issues. Music showed good range and vivacity, while effects worked nicely. Those elements came across as accurate and full, with solid low-end response and positive definition. This resulted in a “B” soundtrack.

Only one extra shows up here: a two-minute, 23-second featurette. It provides comments from director Mark Steven Johnson and actors John Travolta and Robert De Niro as they tell us a little about characters and story. This is essentially an ad for the film; we learn nothing about the flick’s creation.

The disc opens with ads for Upside Down, Stuck in Love, What Maisie Knew and The Iceman. These also appear under Previews along with a trailer for Season.

With two notable actors and a promising premise, Killing Season looked like a potential winner. Unfortunately, neither of the lead performers brings his “A” – or even “C” – game, and the movie meanders too much to stimulate. The Blu-ray delivers satisfactory picture and audio but lacks notable supplements. This feels like the kind of flick you’d watch as a time-killer.

Viewer Film Ratings: 5 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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