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Open Range (DVD) Review

Critically acclaimed in some quarters, but snubbed by the Oscars, Open Range is a throw back to the great John Wayne Westerns of the past. With the exception of a few films, like Tombstone or Wyatt Earp, you rarely see Westerns hyped on the big screen anymore. Open Range is the exception to the rule. With an all-star cast headed by Robert Duvall, Kevin Costner, and Annette Benning, Open Range is filled with all the majestic beauty of the rolling plains, small town frontier life, and shootouts between the good guys and the bad. If you like the Western genre, then you'll love Open Range.

Friends Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall), Charley Waite (Kevin Costner), Mose Harrison (Abraham Benrubi), and Button (Diego Luna) enjoy a life of freedom and abundance as they free-graze their cattle across the open plains of the Old West. Living a life of honor and tranquility, each is content with the wonder of his daily experience. But each man's personal paradise is upended when the men drive their cattle near the town of Harmonville. Local rancher Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon) hates free-rangers, especially on his land, and he uses the local sheriff, Sheriff Poole (James Russo) to control the town through a campaign of fear and terror.

But Boss and Charley are not the type of men who back down from a fight, especially when their friends are hurt. The differing goals of each group of men leads to an inevitable bloody showdown. In the meantime, Charley falls in love with the local doctor's sister Sue Barlow (Annette Benning). At times funny, at others romantic, Open Range is a film the entire family can enjoy.

Utilizing modern day cinematography and the natural beauty of the American frontier, Open Range provides a modern viewers with an idea of the hard life such people lived. The only major point in which it lacks realism (at least as far as I can ascertain, and I'm no expert) is in the final scenes when the good guys and bad guys finally have a showdown gun battle. This prolonged dance of the six-shooters ends up killing about seventy-five times as many people as the famous shootout at the OK Corral. Just as the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre would hardly merit a mention on today's evening news, mass murder on this scale just did not happen in those days. However, the shootout in Open Range is the high-point of the film, and the rate at which they stave off the ultimate conflict builds to the climax of the movie with a crescendo effect (which wouldn't work without the bloody gun battle).

In the end, Open Range is a highly entertaining movie. Lots of conflict… Lots of shooting… Man against man violence. If you like that, then you're in luck with this one. The only question you need ask yourself (which in the old days you didn't have to ask yourself) is whether or not the good guys will win. Do they? You'll have to find out for yourself, and I highly recommend it. Open Range is Kevin Costner at his best - knee-deep in American history, whether it's the open plains of the West or the baseball diamonds of Iowa and North Carolina - that's why Open Range is a definite must-see film.

Submitted by:

Britt Gillette

Britt Gillette is author of The DVD Report, a blog where you can find more reviews like this one. Source: http://thedvdreport.blogspot.com/2006/02/open-range-dvd.html





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