Appaloosa is a western trying to pay homage to classics of the genre, but fails at being a movie that one can be involved with. The focus is on two characters who are long time friends, but their relationship never builds or finds any notable meaning until the final frame. On top of that, there’s a female character who shouldn’t be here, and only serves to drag this dull, slow story down.
Ed Harris directs, writes and stars as Virgil Cole. He’s a sheriff, cleaning up a town nearly empty after Randall Bragg took control. It’s the classic western set up, yet comes off as cliché and predictable. This story revolves around Cole and Everett Hitch, played by Viggo Mortensen. They’re longtime friends, and that’s obvious from the opening frames. This movie drags the concept out to two hours.
Nothing can come between these men, not even Renee Zellweger who simply put, looks terrible. She looks 20 years older than she is, and her character is annoying and unlikable. It’s hard to see why the main characters are attracted to her in the least.
Appaloosa fails to generate any tension, excitement, or emotion. At one point, it goes off the deep end with an absolutely terrible case of 1880s racism, and with little reason. The relationship between Harris and Zellweger is pathetic, based on a single chance meeting, and the next scene they’re building a house together. Humor is misguided and hardly funny. It’s hard to take anything that occurs seriously when the script doesn’t either.
Performances aside (which are excellent all around), Appaloosa doesn’t have any energy or story to grab on to. It’s two hours of friendship being repeatedly pounded into the head of the viewer, without a satisfying conclusion or event leading up to it. Bland and repetitive doesn’t even begin to touch the problems with this one. Movie
Warner releases the film with an ugly, flat out terrible VC-1 encoded transfer. Black levels are simply atrocious, giving the film a faded, washed out look. The high contrast is overblown to the point of excess. There is little room for any middle ground. Flesh tones are usually orange, and detail is minute in many scenes (and superb in select others) hidden behind noticeable DNR.
Darker scenes are nearly unintelligible. Artifacting is noticeable in multiple scenes. This is a reasonably sharp transfer and aside from flesh tones, color is natural. These are hardly positives considering how terrible the rest of this movie looks. Video
A TrueHD track proves useless given the lack of opportunity to make it work. Action is sparse, and gunfire fails to produce any noticeable effect in the LFE channel or rears. Ambience is non-existent. Dialogue can be mixed low, although it remains crisp. Audio
Feeble extras include a commentary from Ed Harris and co-writer Robert Knott. This is followed up by three featurettes that should have been combined into one. Bringing the Characters of Appaloosa to Life is a piece that runs 7:34, padded with film footage. It discusses how the characters were translated from the book to the film.
Historical Accuracy of Appaloosa is the best of the bunch, detailing how the costumes and look of the film came together. Town of Appaloosa looks at the set for a meager five minutes. Dead Semler’s Return to the Western is a piece on the cinematographer, and his role in making the movie. All of the above are in standard def. The only HD extras are a selection of six deleted scenes, with an optional commentary. Extras