HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8952[/img]Title: The Hunter
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill, Frances O'Connor
Directed by: Daniel Nettheim
Written by: Julia Leigh (book), Wain Fimeri
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Runtime: 102 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 3rd, 2012
HTS Overall Score:75
“The Hunter” is a drama about the search for the last remaining Tasmanian Tiger, a tiger striped, dog headed beast that was supposedly driven to extinction in the early 20th century. The last remaining Tasmanian Tiger died in 1936 in captivity, but since then there have been numerous, but unconfirmed, sightings around the area. Although unlikely, there still exists the hope that one may be found someday and that’s where this film’s plot centers around.
Martin David (Willem Dafoe), a hunter for hire, is approached by a mysterious company named Red Leaf to hunt down a Tasmanian Tiger that was supposedly seen recently in the outback of Tasmania, Australia. To Red Leaf, the tiger means countless millions of dollars if they can have exclusive rights to the DNA of the beast. With that in mind Martin is hired to hunt down the tiger, take samples of hair and tissue, and destroy the carcass so that no one else can have a piece of the priceless animal’s DNA. Already we have our first hint that something sinister is afoot.
Martin is a quiet individual, cultured even, for a merc. He listens to opera while bathing and is very methodical in his approach to tracking the tiger. He arrives in Tasmania under the guise of a biologist only to be shunned by the locals who take his occupation as an insult due to the fact that the biologists and other “greenies” are opposing the local trade of lumbering. Martin is forced to stay with the family of an environmentalist who went missing 6 months prior and base his operations there. Lucy (Frances O’Connor), the wife of said environmentalist, is taking her husband’s death rather hard and on a self medicating binge with sleeping pills leaving Martin to deal with her two young children. Martin now has to split his time taking care of the children and tracking down his prey. As time goes on he begins to take an almost fatherly role to the young ones and their influence forces him to come to grips with what he’s actually doing out here. Our final complication comes from the fact that Martin may not be the only one out there in the wild. Gunshots are heard where no one should be, and a hi tech camera is found in the wilds near a trap.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8954[/img]The film’s strong point is where Dafoe is out in the wilds tracking his prey. Dafoe is a fantastic character actor and can totally vanish into a character. Martin is a solitary character, just like the beast he’s tracking and like the tiger a predator who does what he must to survive. Dafoe portrays the character of Martin David through facial expressions and body language, words are spoken, but the real acting comes not from words but from every action and inaction that is seen on screen. The weak part of the story happens to be his relationship with Lucy and her children. Sweet as it is, it’s almost a distraction from the main event and almost unnecessary. Luckily they didn’t delve into the utterly clichéd route of having a romance between Marting and Lucy, but there were several ridiculous seeming events such as Martin curing Lucy of sleeping pills in a 24 hour period and the over dramatic ending seen where Martin takes over the role of father to the young boy. Still it was a great portrayal of a man who comes to grips with his actions and the final scene where Martin comes face to face with his prey is powerful and equisitely done.
More drama than thriller, as was advertised in the trailers “The Hunter” delves into some deep issues involving the environment and ethics that are poignant, while not being overly preachy.
Rated R for language and brief violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8955[/img]Magnolia presents us with a very impressive 2.35:1 AVC encode for “The Hunter’s” home theater debut. Shot amidst the Australian countryside we are presented with lush outdoor scenery that is devoid of any compression artifacts and rich with color, a veritable flood of green and blues are replicated accurately, without banding or bleeding colors. The film grain hasn’t been tampered with and is shown in all its 35 mm glory without a hint of DNR or edge enhancement rearing their ugly heads. There is a bluish/green tint to the film but that appears to be a directorial decision rather than any fault of the print or encode. Detail is impressive, the close up shots of Willem Dafoe’s face shows every craggy detail, from the lines on his face down to the individual hairs curling from his scruffy beard. Shadows are excellent and well detailed as well with little to no apparent black crush. Blacks are inky and well defined on screen. My only complaint was the occasional soft shot that would make itself apparent, usually on close ups. Overall, a fantastic image that nature lovers everywhere can drool over.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8957[/img]“The Hunter’s” 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a very serviceable track, not one for rocking the walls with, but a very solid and enveloping track nonetheless. Being that 95% of the movie is set in the outdoors ambience is where the audio track shines, and shine it does. All 5.1 channels are used throughout the film to suck the viewer in. Twigs snap underfoot, a bullet breaks the silence with startling clarity, the sound of footsteps crunching through the leaves and even simple sounds like a door closing ring throughout all speakers cleanly and clearly. Vocals are crisp and clear, although subtitles were needed every once in a while due to the thick Aussie accents of some of the natives, and the score cleanly integrates itself into the film without over powering the vocals. The only other thing that utilizes the soundstage as much as the ambience is the music, from the scores haunting melody to the rich sounds of Martin’s Opera that he plays on his Ipod. Bass is clean and accurate, although not utilized in a massive way its purpose is to supplement the score and the vocals rather than become intrusive or to vibrate your socks off. Overall a very solid track albeit one that doesn’t do anything to rise above the rest of excellent tracks in this day and age of lossless audio.
• Audio Commentary with Director Daniel Nettheim and Producer Vincent Sheerhan
• Making of The Hunter
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
• Sneak Peeks
"The Hunter" is a very slow burn, but never boring. The real pull here is the gorgeous cinematography and Willem Dafoe's subtle portrayal of a mercenary struggling with his decision to take out one of natures last living legends. Without Willem Dafoe this would have been much less of a film, but being that I can watch Dafoe drink tea for 2 hours and still be entertained, it rose from mediocrity to enthralling. For those of you who know my reviews I do love some brainless action, but every once in a while I like to sit forward in my chair and just be enveloped by subtle changes and inflections that a good character actor can bestow upon his audience. While the ending seemed rather out of place compared with the feel of the rest of the film, it was still a picture well worth seeing. With it's solid audio and visual scores, along with the stunning countryside shots I highly recommend watching "The Hunter" on a quiet evening when there is no chance of disturbance to truly enjoy the film's full effect.
Recommendation: Rent It