HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Timber
HTS Overall Score:74
Modern westerns are a tough film to make. Either you have the budget to pull it off properly and do something great, like the Coen brothers remake of “True Grit”, or you have something cheap and schlocky that deserves the DTV name. “The Timber” is a little bit of both, showing some fantastic set pieces and acting, but a rusty display of writing which doesn’t allow for much to go on, and that is with an already 82 minute runtime. I really wanted to like “The Timber”, as westerns are probably my most prized genre in film. I grew up watching Wayne, Eastwood, Van Cleef, and a myriad of others shoot it out on the open plain. However I also don’t mind the weird and the artistic take on westerns, as I’ve seen my fair share of those as well. Unfortunately “The Timber” is beautifully shot, with some fantastic locations, but the tepid and meandering plot is a major downfall for the film, leaving me colder than the snow covered landscape.
Wyatt (James Ransone) and Samuel (Josh Peck), both brothers in the wild frontier, are running into a bit of bad luck. It’s during the 1893 gold rush and two have come upon some financial strife, with their mortgage coming to a close and no money in sight to fix the issue. However, there salvation (or so it seems), comes in the form of a wanted felon with a high bounty on his head. Seeing an opportunity, Wyatt and Samuel head off into the frozen wastelands of the timber country and seek out this felon in hopes of turning their financial woes around.
One little tidbit of information. This felon just so happens to be the boy’s father. Accompanied by Colonel Rupert Thomas (Mark Caven), the brothers make their way deeper and deeper in the wilds. Soon enough the wilds start to take over, and after an accident, the three men are forced to walk on foot after their horses are murdered. Running into a group of mountain men, Colonel Thomas is killed, leaving Wyatt and Samuel to trudge onward. Stumbling upon the mining camp where there father is supposed to be, the boys run into their first bout of REAL trouble, getting captured and leaving Samuel seriously injured. Now Wyatt has to garner up enough strength and courage for the both of them, and hopefully save not only his brother, but their farm as well.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54986[/img]I will say this. “The Timber” is one of the most beautifully shot westerns that I have seen in quite some time. Set in the snowy wilderness of the gold rush era, the image is shot impeccably, showing off the gorgeously white and shiny forest area that they are forced to trudge through. Costumes are extremely well done and don’t appear cheap in any way. The problems of the film just happen to revolve around the mundane plot and sparse character development. We get the idea that Wyatt is the hardened killer of the brothers, but he just doesn’t SEEM that way. In fact he seems almost a light and affable character, and the weights of his exploits don’t seem to seep through in any ways. Caven is horrible in his role as the Colonel, belting out his lines angrily and aggressively, but without any sense of direction for his character.
The REAL problem I had with the writing, besides some poor character development, is the fact that almost NOTHING happens. I can understand an introspective film that deals with characters and ideas, but the writers didn’t even follow a basic screenplay. We have the boys trudging along the whole movie, and random happenings are interspersed alone the way. Oh look, we ran into some mountain men! Oh look, we’re walking some more! Oh look, it’s the end! I was wondering how an 82 minute wester would play out, as most westerns tend to have a decent running time, but there wasn’t even a quick “wham bam, I’m done” plot. It just meandered for a full hour, and then ended in a mildly explosive ending (at least compared to the rest of the movie.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54994[/img]The highlight of the entire film is the simply stunning Blu-ray encode. Shot digitally, “The Timber” is about as crystal clear and precise an image as you can get. Straight from the digital tap, so to speak. The luscious countryside looks resplendent with bright bright white snow that just glistens with detail. Facial detail is exquisite, and long shots show of some incredible detail, especially up in the tree lined mountains that the boys travel through. Colors are excellent, with a cool looking grading done, although during a couple of indoor scenes and flashbacks there seems to be a yellowish filter applied to the image. Those portions of the movie tend to suffer from boosted contrast and sickly skin tones, as well as some greyed out blacks. Besides those scenes, the rest of the film’s black levels stay deep and inky.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=55002[/img]The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is quite nice, and while it isn’t as bombastic as many a modern western, it certainly does what is required of it with gusto. Dialog is strong, locked to the center channel, but I did notice that some of the dialog felt a bit constrained and muffled. It opened up a good bit more when they got out into the mountains, but the opening scene in town felt a bit boxy. Surrounds get some good use with the sounds of horse’s hooves and gunshots adding to the already subtle ambiance of the woods. LFE is tight and decent, giving some much needed low end to the gun shots and altercations between the mountain men and the bounty hunters. It’s not a fantastically mixed track, but as I said, it does what is required when called upon.
• Audio Commentary with Director
• Behind the Scenes
• Interviews with Cast
I feel almost confused after watching “The Timber”. I don’t do this often, but I had to rewind portions of the movie several times because whole scenes would happen that just didn’t make sense. It wasn’t until later in the movie that these scenes made some semblance of sense, and even then, I felt a bit cheated. The movie is definitely one of the best looking western’s I’ve seen come out of this decade, but the poor writing and middling acting was just a bit too much for the beauty to support. Audio and video are fantastic, and while there are a handful of extras, I would recommend a pass on this one.
Starring: James Ransone, Josh Peck, Mark Caven
Directed by: Anthony O'Brien
Written by: Anthony O'Brien, Steve Allrich
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 80 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 6th 2015
Buy The Timber On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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