HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9105[/img]Title: Hatfields & McCoys
Starring: Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Matt Barr
Directed by: Kevin Reynolds
Written by: Bill Kirby, Ted Mann, Ron Parker
Studio: Sony Pictures
Runtime: 290 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 31st, 2012
HTS Overall Score:84
The western genre has been severely diminished since the days of Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Lee Van Cleef were dominating the silver screen. However Kevin Costner has been at the forefront of the modern western genre and has been doing a good job at keeping it alive. His latest western excursion pairs him up with Bill Paxton, another one of Hollywood’s greats, for “Hatfields & McCoys”. While the names Hatfield and McCoy aren’t as prevalent as say “Wyatt Earp” or “Wild Bill” they are still American legends, two families who destroyed everything and everyone around them in a legendary feud that spanned years and cost many lives. Neither side were war heroes, or outlaws, or sheriff’s bent on handing out frontier justice, but rather simple men who let human greed and hatred blind themselves into starting one of the deadliest feuds in American history.
“Devil” Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton) were once good friends. They came from different sides of the Kentucky / Virginia border and were confederate comrade in arms. That is until “Devil” Anse decided to desert the confederate army and go back home to take care of what really mattered to him, his family. Unfortunately for Randall McCoy he was taken prisoner by the Union army and spent the rest of the war in a prison camp. Coming home a broken man he finds out that Uncle Jim Vance (Tom Behringer), a member of the Hatfield clan, has murdered his brother and his cousin had his land cheated from him by “Devil” Anse. Already shattered due to his long stint as a Union prisoner he is filled with mistrust and anger aimed at “Devil” Anse for deserting the confederate army. From there it’s all downhill. Randall finds out that one of the Hatfield’s has been stealing his pigs while he’s been gone and takes him to court. Unfortunately one of the McCoy clan switches sides and tips the courts favor to the Hatfields. From there bitterness deepens on both sides, alcohol gets involved and soon a series of murders and retribution killings spiral out of control into both clans arming up and sending men after the other clan to wipe them out.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9104[/img]While simple at heart, two men trying to kill each other, “Hatfields & McCoys” is a complex drama involving pretty much every character of both the Hatfield and McCoy clans. Lines are drawn, brothers betray their cousins. Children are killed, Love is gained and crushed in one fell swoop. Brutal and violent (for a miniseries) “Hatfields & McCoys” paints a melancholy picture of what pride and mistrust can do to a person. Randall McCoy and Anse Hatfield refuse to give one inch and as a result end up wiping out half of their respective clans, some directly involved, some just caught in the crossfire. Both become famous throughout the states of Kentucky and West Virginia. Unfortunately they become famous not for their causes, but just because they have killed so many of the others. I watched this drama unfold in eager glee of seeing a well crafted western; however my eagerness was tempered by a sadness seeing how much of a waste this feud was. Especially since this feud is actual truth, not some made up story. Many of us long for the “simpler” days of yesteryear, but as we have seen here and in the history books, mankind is capable of incredible evil against his fellow man and those years of yesterday are riddled with just as much embarrassment and misdeeds as what we experience today.
The story rises head and shoulders above its counterparts due to the incredible heart and soul given by the actors themselves. Each and every one of them vanishes into their respective roles. Bill Paxton becomes the incredibly broken and hate filled Randall McCoy and Kevin Costner plays the hard and strict “Devil” Anse to a tee. Even the “no name” actors are so convincing that I had a hard time realizing that they weren’t from that era. Powers Boothe lends his incredible presence as the Hatfield judge and even our favorite sniper, Tom Behrenger plays an incredible job as the vile and vicious Jim Vance with much aplomb.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9108[/img]The color pallete for “Hatfields & McCoys” is severely drained of color for the most part and infused with a grayish, green tint to the picture. I’m not sure if it worked out for the best color wise, but one gets used to the color grading quickly and it isn’t obtrusive at all. While the grey/green tinting is prominent there are still some splashes of bright colors thrown about. The outdoor woods scenes are riddled with deep greens and the occasional splash of yellow and red intermingled in the mix. Detail wise, the picture is stunning. There are times where I paused the screen just to marvel at some of the razor sharp scenes that allowed one to see even the most hidden lines and wrinkles of Bill Paxton’s face. Blacks are nice and deep without any black crush or dark scene graininess. Personally I felt that a bit more grain would have added a more authentic feel to the period, but overall the image is downright fantastic. I give high marks to the cinematographer for making the series feel like it had a larger budget than it actually had.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=9106[/img]To keep along with the high ratings for both movie and picture quality, the audio for “Hatfields & McCoys” is just as stunning. Clarity of the vocals is crisp and clear, the only reason I would have to occasionally turn on the subtitles was due to the actor’s thick southern accents rather than any discrepancy in the audio encode. Surrounds were use often with much aplomb. Bullets whizzed by one ear and right back past the other one, Horse hooves thundered up from behind my seating area and I swear I heard my own door open beside me only to realize it was in the movie. Bass is deep and clean, no distorted low ends or anemic feeling impacts. Dynamite sticks shook my pants legs and gunfire carried with it a very satisfying punch. The score was again the highlight of the film for me. “These Hills” as the main theme for the series was melodic and haunting, writhing in and out of scenes giving one both a sense of sadness at the pointless death and wanton destruction as well as a sense of peace when necessary. An excellent score to compliment an excellent audio track, high scores all around.
• The Making of Hatfields & McCoys
• These Hills Music Video
A beautiful and poignant take on a classic historical legend, "Hatfield's and McCoys" is both epic and hauntingly sad at the same time. An excellent western that rivals the likes of "Open Range" and "Broken Trail" for it's sweeping majesty and a wonderful portrayal of the true price of hatred. Two families, once friends, at each other's throats, their greed and pride keeping a feud alive that would shape the lives of the people around them and destroy themselves in the process. While it felt over long in a few spots (I would have cut about 40-45 minutes out personally) it was never one that made you look at your watch every half an hour. It certainly kept me on the edge of my seat and it was a surprise when I looked over to see how long I'd been watching for. With great picture quality, and amazing audio to couple itself to a top notch performance by some of Hollywood's finest, I give "Hatfields and McCoys" a rousing round of applause and recommend it for immediate viewing.
Recommendation: Watch It!