PictureJonah Hex comes to Blu-ray with a1080p resolution, encoded using the VC-1 codec and framed within a theatrically correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The disc itself is region free.
DOP Mitchell Amundsen has clearly aimed to give this a typical Western hue, with a colour palette that emphasises the hot and humid, which falls towards the warm, showing an orange glow to the desert soil and bold greenery present in outdoor sequences. Colour fidelity is pretty sound, but the bolder primaries against similarly vivid colours show hints of bleed but other than that there are no major encoding problems in that regard, even the comic book sections hold up well. Skin tones waver a little, but just how much the swaying from pallid to sunburnt is intentional is unclear, as there is little in the way of subtlety attached to the cinematography. Megan Fox’s visage is the most unevenly treated as, although always made up to be pale, she can shift from normally wan to drained from scene to scene. What is more worrying is the occasional use of what has to be the most clumsily implemented filter you will likely see during some close ups of the actress. Now I know some bitchy gossip sites like to pick up on her less than perfect skin, but they hardly needed to take out all facial detail in those sequences, whether encode or directorial it is jarring to say the least.
Generally close ups fare the best as they exhibit good fine detail and faces (barring the aforementioned smearing of Vaseline on the lens for a few of Fox’s scenes) are full of lines, pores and follicles as they should be. There are a few moments when trickier shots get the better of the disc, one being Turnbull’s hat, whose fine lines in close proximity show shimmering. Move to wider shots and a bit of the delineation is lost as objects in the middle distance struggle to stay clear, particularly the abundance of foliage. In lower light things can become a touch muddy, with softness creeping in, but shadow detail is not entirely lost.
This is an unsophisticated image that bounces around a little due to both cinematography choices and the single layer disc, but generally shows good delineation and detail.
SoundThere are three audio options on the disc – English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Obviously I opted for the lossless English variant.
The narration in the early scenes sets up how this film is going to be. The dialogue is clear and has some good depth to it whilst the rears are generally underused. This theme continues for most of the film with a few exceptions. Things are front heavy, and whilst this is a comic book adaptation which arguably doesn’t demand much more than that, it would have been nice for a bit more zip and dimensionality. Pans are perfunctory and lack precision and there’s an air of lack of orchestration to maximise impact. That is until you hear the LFE.
Bass has been prioritised well and has a resounding kick to it. It is not only used to fill the holes where there should have been subtlety and directionality during action set pieces, but also lifts the music to centre stage. The raucous rock from Mastodon pounds away at your eardrums and helps the fronts fill the soundstage surprisingly well. There may be less finesse to the mix than even the comic book material necessitated, but for those looking solely for sheer grunt this proves a bombastic track.
ExtrasThe Inside Story of Jonah Hex - 1080p – 10:53
Various comics bods associated with the franchise discuss the history and impact the series has had on the scene as a whole as well as what makes the character so unique. Sadly, for fans especially, the more you watch the more likely it is for it to dawn on you what a missed opportunity the film actually was. It’s always nice to see some of the original iconic imagery enlarged and in 1080p though.
Deleted Scenes – 1080p – 5:11
I’m a little shocked to find that a film that runs at a paltry 82 minutes including credits has a mere 5 minutes of deleted scenes. There are only two, both of which are scene setters and have no bearing on the film as a whole.
The Weird, Western Tales of Jonah Hex
A picture-in-picture track feature that collates interviews with cast, crew and comics industry figures as well as production clips. Some material about the character is rehashed from the “Inside Story” featurette, but most info is new. Of particular interest is how Brolin and Malkovich became attached, both being initially less than overly enthusiastic.
A copy of the film for the now Blu crowd.
An iTunes or Windows Media Player compatible version of the film.
VerdictJonah Hex is almost a textbook example of a mismatch of source material and film direction. By rights this should have been an R rated kill fest that emulated the Spaghetti Westerns that inspired it. Going a bit steam-punk or campy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it ends up closer to Wild Wild West than Sukiyaki Western Django. It contains every cliché imaginable and is weighed down with concrete boots of mediocrity.
The region free disc is decent if not stellar. The picture has a few flaws but is strong enough to ride through those blips and the sound aims solely to wait until the LFE kicks in and then runs roughshod over your senses. Extras at least are in 1080p, but the deleted scenes add little and really it is only the history lesson about the comic book that serves as insightful or interesting.
Whilst not as bad as Catwoman in the hall of fame of bad comics adaptations, Jonah Hex is infinitely bettered by the 12 minute short available on the Batman: Under the Red Hood Blu-ray, which speaks volumes. If you’re unattached to the source material and don’t mind switching your brain off entirely this may entertain, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a lamentably frustrating missed opportunity.
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