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Antonia Bird
Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeffrey Jones, David Arquette
Writing Credits:
Ted Griffin

Get a taste for terror.

It’s a recipe for nonstop action and excitement when the inhabitants of an isolated military outpost go up against a marauding band of cannibals in a deadly struggle for survival! Ever watchful of the enemies who might literally tear them apart, the uneasy alliance of soldiers must fight brutal elements of the Sierra Nevada wilderness: as well as their own murderous instincts to stay alive.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $24.97
Release Date: 6/3/2014

• Audio Commentary with Director Antonia Bird and Composer Damon Albarn
• Audio Commentary with Screenwriter Ted Griffin and Actor Jeffrey Jones
• Audio Commentary with Actor Robert Carlyle
• Music and Effects Only Track
• Interview with Jeffrey Jones
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• TV Spot
• Photo Gallery


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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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Ravenous [Blu-Ray] (1999)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (Blu-ray) / Chris Galloway (Movie) (May 29, 2014)

In 1999’s Ravenous, Guy Pearce plays Captain John Boyd, an officer during the 1840s Mexican-American war who single-handedly took control of an entire enemy fort. He receives a commendation but General Slauson (John Spencer) knows that Boyd’s “heroism” was an accident and that Boyd is nothing but a coward. Slauson relocates Boyd to obscure Fort Spencer in California.

Colonel Hart (Jeffrey Jones) runs the location and takes charge of some interesting characters such as an off-his-rocker cook named Cleaves (David Arquette) and a quiet priest named Toffler (Jeremy Davies). Before long, a stranger named Colqhoun (Robert Carlyle) appears. He shares a horrible story about a group of settlers lost in the mountains who resorted to murder and cannibalism. From there we follow Colqhoun’s impact on the others and suspect violent events.

To say the least, Ravenous offers an extremely gory tale, but it doesn’t overdo the unpleasantness. It's stylish and smart and executed well by director Antonia Bird. An insistence on authenticity helps the movie, as the sets and costumes fit the time period perfectly. I haven't seen many period pieces that look as realistic as this one does.

Its mixing of war, the supernatural, cannibalism and dark humor seems first rate. The story flows smoothly and manages to mix its genres perfectly. Much of the film shouldn’t work, so the skill required to mix the components needs to be strong. When a movie starts as a war flick then goes into the other areas, it becomes tough to succeed, but Bird manages the shifts well.

The acting also seems wonderful. Pearce grounds the tale, while Carlyle steals the movie as the villain. He doesn't play him over the top or as a cartoon. He's serious but still offers some of the funnier moments in the film.

All of this adds up to a satisfying, genre-bending movie. Ravenous tells an unusual tale and does so well.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Ravenous appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. While not an awful transfer, it came with more problems than I’d expect for a movie from the late 1990s.

Sharpness became one of those issues. Close-ups showed good delineation, and some other shots presented positive clarity as well. However, more than a few wider elements gave us soft, tentative material, a concern exacerbated by some obvious edge haloes.

I noticed no issues with jaggies or shimmering, but I wondered if some digital noise reduction occurred here. During interiors, skin tones tended to take on a waxy feel and often didn’t look natural. The image also suffered from plenty of source flaws, as I saw a mix of specks and marks throughout the film. These weren’t heavy but they showed up more often than I’d like.

Colors seemed decent. The film opted for a somewhat rusty feel, with an emphasis on ambers and reds. These could be a bit dense but usually showed pretty good vivacity. Blacks appeared fairly dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated nice smoothness. Some parts of the image worked fine, but the variety of concerns made this a “C-“ presentation.

At least the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack fared well. Much of the film remained fairly low-key and didn’t tax the soundfield. Nonetheless, it presented a natural feeling throughout the action. Music offered nice stereo delineation, and effects appeared well placed and blended neatly.

Surround activity kicked in mainly during the occasional action sequences. Battles used all five channels quite well, while a few other louder bits also featured good material from the surrounds. The track worked extremely well when necessary.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech consistently came across as concise and crisp, with no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Effects seemed distinctive and accurate. They presented fine dynamics and clarity, with clean highs and firm lows.

Music fared best of all. The score was bright and bold. Low-end response was very strong, as bass seemed deep and tight without any boominess. The soundtrack of Ravenous fell short of “A” level due to inconsistent ambition, but the mix seemed positive for the material.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we locate three separate audio commentaries. For the first, we hear from director Antonia Bird and composer Damon Albarn. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, themes, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, stunts, effects, and other domains.

While never quite a great commentary, this one becomes consistently pretty good. Bird and Albarn interact in a likable, satisfying manner and cover a nice array of subjects. I’d like to know more about some of the issues – such as why Bird joined the project late in the game – but even without those, this ends up as a fairly useful chat.

In the second track, we get notes from screenwriter Ted Griffin and actor Jeffrey Jones. They sit together for a running, screen-specific chat about story, characters and script, the project’s roots and development, deleted scenes, cast and performances, locations, and a few other topics.

This track starts well but loses steam pretty quickly. That doesn’t mean it lacks merit; it just sputters more than I’d like. Still, it comes with a decent array of details and deserves a listen despite its flaws.

Finally, we locate a commentary from actor Robert Carlyle. He delivers a running, screen-specific chat that focuses on his own character and performance but it also looks his co-stars and their work, sets and locations, and a few other filmmaking areas.

Carlyle’s commentary doesn’t start until his character enters the film, so feel free to skip to that point. Even after Carlyle does appear, he delivers a spotty track. The actor gives us sporadic insights but he remains silent a lot of the time. The information delivered could’ve been summed up in a 10-minute interview, I suspect, so this turns into a slow, only occasionally useful piece.

The package also presents a Music and Effects Track. It comes in a DTS-HD MA stereo mix and as expected, it eliminates dialogue from the audio. I can’t say it does much for me, but it’s a painless addition to the set.

10 Deleted Scenes run a total of 12 minutes, six seconds. These don’t give us anything important, but they do flesh out some of the characters and situations a bit better. In particular, Private Reich (Neal McDonough) receives a fair amount of added screen time.

We can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Bird. She tells us a bit about the sequences as well as why she cut them. Bird offers useful notes about the segments.

An interview with Jeffrey Jones goes for 20 minutes, 42 seconds and includes his thoughts about story and themes, historical areas reflected in the movie, characters and performances, and aspects of the shoot. Some of this repeats from the commentary in which Jones participated, but he adds new notes and makes this a pretty good chat. In particular, Jones gives us more about the movie’s fired first director than we hear elsewhere.

In addition to the film’s trailer and a TV spot, we find a photo gallery. That collection covers costume design and production design as it delivers a two-minute, 47-second running compilation of images. All seem interesting, especially since a few text notes explain some components.

Ravenous offers an unusual mix of horror, western and comedy. For the most part, it combines those genres in a fun, satisfying manner. The Blu-ray comes with solid audio and a broad roster of bonus materials but picture quality disappoints. The problems with visuals make this a hit or miss release.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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