The Movie: 9/10
We can’t seem to let go of some very specific moments in our history. I’m talking about humans, not just as an American. We cling to, or keep revisiting, or rehashing, or examining, or attempting to relive the same set of events through research and story telling. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that a lot of things have happened in the few hundred thousand years we’ve been around, and yet, most nations, most people would have a handful of pinpointed slivers of time in their history that they have been taught about, and continue to hold on to for whatever reasons.
America is a young nation. I’m 50 and my family has been here for more than 7 generations, which puts us here firmly before, during, and of course after, the Wild West was part of the creation of our country. Hostiles is a story about many things, but the overriding theme for me is a reminder of the way our America was forged through blood, sweat, and tears. That’s not just the indigenous people who were slaughtered and driven from their native homelands during the process, but the individuals who rode in those covered wagons, walked, dragged their families and lives across an unforgiving landscape to make a better life for themselves.
Our leading man is a high-ranking officer in the cavalry and is charged with the duty of escorting a Cheyenne War Chief and his people back to his homeland before he dies of cancer. This movie also reminds us that politics and public opinion are not new. Taking the War Chief back to his home is somewhat of a publicity stunt to calm the public’s distaste for the stories of what’s happening at the hands of soldiers and settlers to the native people.
We meet our leading lady, who survives a horrible attack by a group of Comanche on the plains at her homestead. She gets taken up by the traveling crew, our Colonel and Cheyenne family, and other soldiers. The group is becoming a mixture of the various points of view of folks at the time. It’s not a new idea, the motley crew of individuals who have to resolve some larger issue to survive. This story takes the struggles of this woman, the Cheyenne family, the soldiers and how difficult it is to adjust to a changing perception of what’s happening west of the Mississippi.
We also meet up with a criminal being transported to be hanged because of his treatment of different tribes as a soldier. He’s a reflection of our leading man, the Colonel who has done the same or worse through his duties. Every mile draws our characters closer to a different understanding of themselves and the people they have learned to fear or hate. It’s not all sweetness and enlightenment, it just draws out the humanity in a very inhumane situation.
This movie doesn’t shy away from being gutsy, uncomfortable, and challenging. At the same time it handles some things with such delicacy it makes for a very well told story and movie watching experience. Every performance is stellar. The score is right as it moves with the emotions but doesn’t make it into a melodrama. The look of the entire movie is really beautiful and confronting by not making it look glossy or glowing to romanticize the drama.
I think this is one of those classic dramatic “Western” movies that does more than just put a good or bad guy on display and end up with a big showdown in the street. It’s an examination of all the different aspects of what makes the story of our Wild West history one of those things we keep trying to relive, retell, and understand.
- A Journey Of The Soul: The Making Of Hostiles (66 Minutes) – A superb lengthy documentary that chronicles the making of the film. Lots of attention to detail on display here such as working with Native American’s to add more authenticity.
- 4KUHD, Blu-ray & UV Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 9/10
Hostiles is a striking looking film that comes to 4K and Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate. Encoded in AVC at an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 the movie looks stunning from start to finish. Close up detail is incredible in both 4K and Blu-ray versions. A slight edge goes to the 4K transfer with its great use of HDR lighting.
The DTS-HD Master Audio HD 5.1 track is a mixture of VERY LOUD action scenes and incredibly quiet talky scenes. The dynamic range is very wide so you might be reaching for your volume control in the quieter moments. Dialog is clean clear and mixed above music and effects. This is a stunning movie and a stunning home video release from Lionsgate.
Overall Score 9/10