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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Seraphim Falls (2006)

"He ain't goin' nowhere. We let him bleed."
- Carver (Liam Neeson)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: May 14, 2007

Stars: Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan
Other Stars: Michael Wincott, Anjelica Huston
Director: David Von Ancken

MPAA Rating: R for (violence and brief language)
Run Time: 01h:51m:45s
Release Date: May 15, 2007
UPC: 043396171596
Genre: western

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ A+A-A B

DVD Review

There's a handful of production company logos followed by a single opening title, Seraphim Falls. It is 1868, somewhere in the Ruby Mountains. Within seconds a ragged man appears, followed by a group of "hunters" shooting at him. The chase is officially on! It's exhilarating when a film opens without any character-oriented exposition, but director David Von Ancken (The Shield) doesn't give the audience time to realize they don't know anything about this fast-paced pursuit. It's a risky tactic, but Von Ancken uses it to his and the story's benefit. The truth about this chase eventually becomes clear, but it's great to see the director putting the pedal to the metal from the get-go.

The basic story involves the pursuit of Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) by Carver (Liam Neeson), who is driven by a strong desire for revenge. Carver is joined by a small posse, who chase Gideon up and down the mountain range. Gideon is able to survive many near-death experiences along the way, but he will eventually square-off with Carver in a final showdown.

This Western First Blood powers along briskly without the audience knowing why one man is so obsessed with killing the other. When the motive is finally revealed, it's rather shocking and despicable—I was emotionally conflicted, to say the least. However, the details surrounding the motivating event are spelled out distinctly enough that the audience can sympathize with both men. Brosnan's work in the first 15 minutes alone is incredible; his Gideon is a man who's just survived having been shot, falling through the snowy mountains, crossing a rushing river, and manages to avoid freezing to death, all while running for his life. When he's forced to stop and treat his wound, Brosnan makes Gideon's agony palpable, reacting realistically as he pours alcohol on it, removes the bullet, and cauterizes his own flesh in horrifying fashion.

Things get increasingly strange during the final 20 minutes, with both Gideon and Carver each encountering individuals (including a medicine peddler played by Anjelica Huston) that spout plenty of existential mumbo jumbo while bartering with them. Are these people real or simply the hallucinations of weary men wandering through the desert, struggling to survive? Or, if they aren't real, are our protagonists actually wandering in limbo encountering angels... or the devil? It's this ambiguity that lifts this film to another level, leaving the viewer to reflect on its true meaning. I can't help but think that this is could become a cult classic, the discovery of which is truly something special.

If the compelling, character-driven story isn't reason enough to seek this out, the incredible cinematography elevates it further. Shot on location in New Mexico, Von Ancken showcases this lush setting with spectacular camera work and wonderful colors. This is one of the better-looking Westerns you'll ever see, period.

With two stellar actors at the top of their game, the final showdown is simultaneously satisfying and genuinely tear-jerking, with Brosnan and Neeson settling a heartbreaking, realistic feud.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation suffers from a slight bit of softness on a couple of occasions, but it's a stellar transfer overall. Images are sharp and minutely detailed, but the real winner is the gorgeous mountain and desert locations. The colors are filled with rich, vibrant hues, and accurate flesh tones give us a realistic look at the conditions these characters are struggling to survive in.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio also impresses, providing a lively, enveloping sound experience that perfectly suits the film. The fine music blends in nicely with immersing directional effects and booming bass, which helps with gun shots and other action-intensive sequences. There aren't any problems with the dialogue either, as everyone's speech is crystal clear throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Walking Tall: The Payback, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Seinfeld - Season 8, The Missing, Dead Birds, Half Nelson
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Pierce Brosnan, director David Von Ancken, and Michael Hanan
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: The few extras are worthwhile ones, including an audio commentary with Pierce Brosnan, director David Von Ancken, and production designer Michael Hanan. They cover quite a bit of ground, going over the story, casting, and amazing locations that were scouted and eventually chosen. Brosnan's especially engaging to listen to, covering as many aspects of his Gideon character as he can.

Behind the Scenes of Seraphim Falls is an 18-minute documentary combining on-set footage with cast and crew interviews. Brosnan and Neeson talk about the story and their respective characters, while the interviewed crew goes into detail about their casting choices and some of the treacherous outdoor location shooting.

There are also previews of other Sony DVD releases.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Setting the conventional Western on its ear, the little-seen Seraphim Falls defies genre conventions to tell a powerful tale of the hunt for revenge. Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson are in top form as the protagonists who take us on a memorable journey through the Ruby Mountains and into New Mexico's desert. Sony's DVD is complete with excellent audio and video transfers, and a few extras that are unexpectedly valuable.


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