Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sweetwater (DVD Review)

Directed By: Logan Miller
Written By: Logan Miller, Noah Miller
Starring: January Jones, Jason Isaacs, Ed Harris
Color/95 Minutes/Rated R
Region 1

The Film
In the late 1800s Sarah Ramirez (January Jones), a former prostitute, has a new life growing crops with her new husband Miguel (Eduardo Noriega). Despite some lean times they're happy and peaceful until a dispute with their only neighbor, the Prophet Josiah (Jason Isaacs) leaves Miguel dead. Sarah deals with her husband's death until she is pushed too far and blazes a trail of blood across the town for everyone who has used her, judged her or wronged her and it is up to the new sheriff Cornelius Jackson (Ed Harris) to find out who is behind the killings and why. 

SWEETWATER is the latest in the line of the recent on-going western movie renaissance which has given us quite a few fine films such as The Proposition and the remake of 3:10 To Yuma. SWEETWATER stands among them on its own feet. Director Logan Miller, in only his second time in the director's chair, gives us a heart felt piece of vigilante justice with love at its core. January Jones performance in the lead role, along with the rest of the supporting cast, are fantastic and carry the simplistic script that we've seen done before and make it something special. There's nothing wrong with simple ideas that have been done before but the film making team has to do something to make it stand apart and they've done so here. Jason Isaacs is extremely unlikeable as the Prophet who is a total dickhead and truly believes he has the word of God guiding him while we are rooting for Jones to find the peace and solitude she was robbed of.

The CGI blood bothered me. It is no secret that I hate CGI blood and would much prefer practical effects be used. The repeated use of CGI gunshot wounds and blood spray look pretty terrible and for a split secnod take me out of the film. It isn't a good thing to be taken out of the movie to think "man, those effects are bad". Fortunately the movie is strong and doesn't need to rely on the effects for merit. This is a good, almost great modern western that I'll certainly be revisiting again.  

The Audio & Video
Unfortunately for me, Arc Entertainment provided me with the DVD version of the film and not the blu-ray because I'd have loved to see SWEETWATER in HD. As it is the region 1 DVD looks good with a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There are some vibrant colors present such as Sarah's purple dress, but the film is largely set in overcast exteriors and darkly lit interiors. The black levels are handled with ease and there's no problems to really speak of. The 5.1 Dolby Digital is more than capable of handling the soundtrack and dialogue mix. There isn't anything in the film to really push the limits of your receiver but everything sounds good and is crisp and clear. 

The Extras
You wouldn't know it judging by the DVD packaging but there are some special features present on the disc. The first and most important feature is a brief 10 and a half minute "making of" that features interviews and moments with just about all of the main cast members and the Miller brothers. Brief but enjoyable. There's also a trailer for the film and an option to listen to the song heard in the closing credits in its entirety. 


The Bottom Line 
A familiar plot with a great cast. It isn't the best western of the 21st century but it is quite good and is worthy of a purchase. 

SWEETWATER is available HERE 

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