Free State of Jones Blu-ray Review
Failed State of Jones
Driven by an earnest Matthew McConaughey, this is a worthy Civil War drama which doesn't quite have enough to fully engage.There's plenty of merit in Free State of Jones, the true Civil War tale of disillusioned Army Medic Newton Knight, who breaks free from his Southern Confederate brethren and inadvertently becomes the leader of a resistance movement within his county. Jones feels that the war is being waged by rich plantation owners at the expense of poor homeowners, who are dying on the battlefield whilst their homes are ransacked by the Confederacy, who to take anything they want in the name of 'The Cause'. Banding together with a group of escaped slaves and other disenchanted war veterans, Knight leads a revolt against the South in a bid to do the right thing.Directed by The Hunger Games's Gary Ross (who also co-wrote the screenplay), and largely founded upon some excellent work by McConaughey, this atypical Civil War drama has certainly got the best of intentions, and an undeniably interesting tale to tell, which it does so with acute attention to detail and lavish period observation. However it still doesn't fully deliver, losing focus in its various historical milestones and, even with an epic runtime, failing to get to the heart of the complex sociopolitical matter. It still has some dramatic weight, but, given the events and period it covered, may well have worked better as a lavish TV mini-series.
Picture QualityFree State of Jones reaches UK shores with a Region B-locked Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal, who deliver it with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen.
Very good looking indeed
The digitally shot feature boasts strong texture and fine detail, lapping up the impressively-restaged Civil War environments and battles, and picking up on the nuances of the dirty, weary faces of the main characters, their ragged hair and beards, and worn, weathered clothing. There are some smoother moments, sometimes during the slightly more hectic action flurries, but for the most part the film has a lovely filmic sheen and suitably period feel. The colour scheme is admittedly quite washed out, but that appears commensurate to the period, and the dominant tones on offer - browns and greens are rich and suitably authentic. Black levels are reasonably strong and, in the age of 4K, this was never going to be demo material, but still stands out as generally very good looking indeed.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also delivers a suitably engaging aural component, which brims with finer atmospheric observation and a strong, albeit ultimately unmemorable score to hold attention across the soundscape.
A suitably engaging aural component
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array, dominating the front and centre channels and rising above the remaining elements to come across as clear and coherent throughout, whilst effects range from the thunderous battles staged to the quieter ambient touches of the swamp settings. The score offers a welcome backdrop to the rest of the elements and overall it's an impressive effort which manages to deliver dynamic range, well-constructed surround activity and even a little healthy LFE backing.
ExtrasA single History of Jones County Featurette runs a little longer than a quarter of an hour and offers some limited background into the real events and individuals.
Despite the epic runtime it doesn't get to the heart of this complex matter
The UK Blu-ray release of Free State of Jones delivers strong video and impressive audio, and whilst it may be lacking on the extras front, it's a solid offering that fans of the film shouldn't hesitate in picking up.
You can buy Free State of Jones on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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