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News of the World – Blu-Ray Review

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News of the World – Blu-Ray Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Studios Home Entertainment

There’s something about the western that inspires filmmakers to take advantage of the incredible locations available to them. Westerns can also transport the audience back to a time when danger was around every corner and gunfights were common. Director Paul Greengrass somehow brings both an old-fashioned quality and a modernity to News of the World, although the most appealing thing about the film is the bond formed between the leads. Tom Hanks, as a former army captain who travels to cities to read the news, delivers an excellent performance as he deals with everything thrown at him. His friendship with a young girl, played by Helena Zengel, feels believable and it successfully drives most of the narrative.

There is an almost episodic structure to News of the World as both protagonists run into various forces that threaten their journey. However, it works with the themes of the movie and one isn’t sure where Greengrass will take them next. One sequence in which they are chased by ruthless child traffickers is especially tense and is a brilliantly constructed scene by Greengrass and editor William Goldenberg. There is a constant personal investment in hoping the two of them come out okay and reach their destinations safely. Director of photography Dariusz Wolski brings the proper mood and produces some striking images in the cinematography, especially when showing the landscapes. Greengrass is known for frequently shaking the camera in his movies, but largely avoids that in News of the World. Throughout its two hours, the film develops into a touching story and also an advocate for the spread of information.

News of the World looks appropriately stunning on Blu-Ray, allowing us to admire every detail of Wolski’s cinematography and to take in the environment. There are a few bonus features included on the disc as well. There is an 11-minute collection of deleted scenes, all of which help develop Captain Kidd and Johanna’s relationship. They would have been worthy additions to the final film, so it’s great to see them included here. “Partners: Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel” explores the collaboration between the two actors and while largely a promotional piece, it’s nice seeing the behind-the-scenes filming. “Western Action”, meanwhile, goes over the process of putting together the action scenes.

The best featurette is “Paul Greengrass Makes News of the World“, which provides plenty of information on the making of the film with emphasis on the on-location shooting. “The Kiowa” looks at how the tribe consulted on the film and the necessity of having them onboard to provide the needed authenticity. Finally, there is an audio commentary from Greengrass. Unfortunately, it’s an underwhelming track as he primarily retells the plot and occasionally praises his cast and crew without too many nuggets on how the movie was made. Overall, News of the World is an engaging western with some great performances at the centre and a story with plenty of thrills and emotion.

Stefan Ellison