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Bone Tomahawk (Blu-ray Review)

Bone TomahawkBone Tomahawk is a little horror-western that arrived in limited release this past year and serves as a nice display of technique from debut writer/director S. Craig Zahler. He managed to rope in Kurt Russell, among others, and tell a story of brutal cannibal savages and the unlikely team on a mission to stop them. The film received high critical praise and has now arrived on Blu-ray. Continue on to learn more about this release and whether or not it actually is worth your time.

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Film:

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Russell leads the cast as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, a lawman set to bring home some of the kidnapped settlers to his town of Bright Hope. The opening of the film provides some reasoning, as we find two criminals invading the land of true savages, which brings their presence to town. As a result, Sheriff Hunt is joined by Back-up Deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins), the educated mercenary John Brooder (Matthew Fox) and the injured Arthur O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson), who is going to retrieve his wife.

Bone Tomahawk takes its time to get going, which was evident by the fact that I had been expecting more horror, only to see that this is really more of a quirky western, somewhat similar to this year’s Slow West. The difference is in both the language and the eventual brutality on display. The buildup, though, is intriguing.

The film hints at the violence to come, but this is largely a film about the trip to an otherworldly hell of sorts. The men all know trouble is on the horizon, but that does not stop them from sharing their worldview with each other and speaking in eloquent, old-fashioned English. It is an intriguing way to present these characters, which certainly does enough to keep you on board with them.

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However, when things get crazy, they really get exciting and while there is a visceral amount of entertainment to be found, it happens in a manner that is almost understated. Similar to another Kurt Russell western from this year, Bone Tomahawk features violence as a means to an end that is designed to get a reaction out of you, but is less interesting than everything going on around it.

Unfortunately, there is only so much to really appreciate in a 130-minute film that does not do enough to make that all that time worth it. There is a very good movie here, but even for a western, it could have been a little tighter. The low budget nature allows for some creativity put on display in terms of visual flourish and the nature of the villains, but it still feels like this film promises more than it delivers.

The cast is pretty great, though Russell feels a bit underused. Fox gets a lot to say, even if his character is the least developed and there is nothing wrong with seeing Jenkins and Wilson dig into roles like these. Honestly, given the activities going on in the town, I would have been happy to spend more time in Bright Hope.

Bone Tomahawk is a solid western/thriller overall, but trimming a bit of what’s going on could have helped. It is a kick to hear the dialogue and see some wild shifts in tone, but it seems as if it is missing something more to really push it over the top. Worth seeing for its approach though.

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Bone Tomahawk has a solid transfer that really allows you a great look at the western environment and all the details that come with it. This is a dusty film with some great production value, regardless of how small the film may be compared to bigger films. The print comes across great as a result, as it is clean and clear.

Depth: Characters and objects feel free and move smoothly.

Black Levels: Black levels are rich and deep throughout, which is great, given the amount of scenes taking place at night and inside of caves.

Color Reproduction: Colors are naturally handled, which makes sense, given the period setting of this film and the nature of a western.

Flesh Tones: A lot of good detail in regards to the facial textures seen. Good detail found in the beards and mustaches in particular.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: The film makes fine use of its atmosphere via the lossless audio transfer presentation on this disc. The various gunshots and horses galloping are heard clearly, with enough attention also paid to getting the dialogue and general ambience of a western down accordingly.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel gets a good workout during the big action moments.

Surround Sound Presentation: The film has a lot of center channel focus, given how dialogue heavy it actually is, but when things get wild, the balance is handled quite well for this film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone can be heard quite easily.

 

Extras:

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I would have loved to know more about what went into the conception of the film and it is a shame we do not get a commentary or a longer making-of feature.

Features Include:

  • The Making of Bone Tomahawk (HD, 10:04) – Pretty standard EPK material.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 2:30) – Not a lot here, but there is an alternate ending to be found.
  • Image Gallery (HD) – A look at all the different poster ideas.
  • Fantastic Fest Q&A with the Director and Cast (HD, 34:40) – Sadly there is no Kurt Russell to be found, but this is the best feature of the bunch, as you get to hear some candid responses about what went into this film.

Summary:

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Bone Tomahawk is a different take on the western that will be enjoyed by anyone looking for a stranger and more graphic take on the old west. There is a fine cast here and some clever writing, but just no this film is not for the faint of heart. The Blu-ray presentation is solid, though its lack of more extras is unfortunate. Enjoy taking a chance on this one.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “Bone Tomahawk (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    I am not a huge western fan, but after seeing Hateful Eight I was on a Russel binge and decided to give this one a watch. I liked it! It was like The Descent as a slow burning western.