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Hatfields & McCoys (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Sony Pictures - 2012
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 290 minutes
Genre: TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Starring: Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Mare Winningham, Tom Berenger, Andrew Howard, Jenna Malone, Sarah Parish, Lindsay Pulsipher, Ronan Vibert, Noel Fisher, Boyd Holbrook, Sam Reid
Directed by: Kevin Reynolds
Music by: John Debney & Tony Morales
Written by: Ted Mann & Ronald Parker
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 31, 2012

"Famous for killing each other"

Film Synopsis:

Bonded by their oath to the same flag, two confederate soldiers, “Devil” Anse Hatfield (Kevin Costner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton), return home seeking peace after tireless months of battle. Their expectations are quickly shattered when a murder based on misunderstandings and an illicit love affair trigger warfare between former comrades and their clans. This historic feud teeters on the brink of an all out civil war as friends and neighbors join opposing sides in a rivalry that would ultimately shape American History.

My Take:

The Hatfield-McCoy saga begins with 'Devil' Anse Hatfield and Randall McCoy. Close friends and comrades until near the end of the Civil War, when their paths diverge. Afterward they return to their neighboring homes - Hatfield in West Virginia, McCoy just across the Tug River border in Kentucky - to increasing tensions, misunderstandings and resentments that soon explode into all-out warfare between the families. As hostilities grow, friends, neighbors and outside forces join the fight, bringing the two states to the brink of another Civil War.

It’s interesting to note that two families that shared such hatred for one another would eventually have their names become synonymous. I have to admit to having little knowledge of the feud, its magnitude or what started it. I learned about this miniseries during a First Look segment while at the movies back in the spring and was intrigued. The cast looked terrific and the subject matter looked like a good match for a made for TV film. The series aired on The History Channel over Memorial Day weekend, garnering more than 13.9 viewers as it marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the feud.

As I said I didn’t know much about the background of the Hatfield & McCoy feud but luckily that isn’t a requirement since the film does a great job of establishment of the elements needed to connect with who, what, where, when and how. From what I have read it appears as though the film runs pretty close to how things transpired although there is some deviation. It paints a vivid picture of the time period, the heads of the two families and the bitterness and turmoil that would result in tragedies suffered by both sides. I can remember a time when miniseries were all the rage. It seems like they aren’t as prevalent nowadays although the advent of cable TV has introduced season long “miniseries” programming.

Right from the start Hatfields and McCoys proves to be thoroughly engaging as the characters are clearly drawn and correlated within the narrative’s construct. It carefully establishes the defining events that would simmer, boil, and escalate all the while being driven by an uncanny hostility predicated upon prior acts some of which were never established as fact. It is evident that this is a dramatization but it never feels overtly so as the storyline plays out with passion, a visceral edge and historically significant interest.

As with most miniseries the selection of the cast is paramount and the ensemble here is excellent. The primary characters are wonderfully portrayed by Kevin Costner, Bill Paxton, Tom Berenger, Mare Winningham, Sarah Parish, Matt Barr, Jenna Malone, and Andrew Howard. Powers Boothe, Ronan Vibert, Noel Fisher, Boyd Holbrook, Lindsay Pulsipher, and Damian O’Hare are equally deserving of praise in their various roles. Kevin Reynolds masterfully commands the proceeding from the director’s chair as his vision is captured by Arthur Reinhart’s beautiful cinematography. To replicate the period and locales featured in the story the film was shot on location in Romania and the rustic landscapes are gorgeous.

The feud between the Hatfields and McCoys, a clash of clans that evoked great passion, vengeance, courage, sacrifice, crimes and accusations, which changed the families and the history of the region forever. The miniseries is gritty, disturbing and powerful in its portrayal of the bitter struggle that ensued between these families and the devastation left in its wake. I have to say that I found it enlightening, shocking and very entertaining. The three part 290 minute series is spread over two BD-50 Blu-ray Discs with parts 1&2 on Disc one and part 3 along with the bonus material on Disc two.

This is an engaging and earthy drama that tells a dark historical tale that makes for an elucidating and compelling film experience that isn’t to be missed.

Parental Guide:

This unrated film contains language, violence, disturbing images and sexual content.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Video: 88

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Hatfields and McCoys comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.1 mbps.

This high definition video presentation offers clear, refined images and an intentionally subdued color palette that is rarely eye catching. I found this to convey the film's rustic time period specific clothing, locales and sullen complexions with aplomb. The earth tones found in the forest covered landscapes and dusty towns are naturally reproduced and look great. The rendering of fine detail can range from exquisite to moderate. This leaves certain long range and mid level shots with less dimensionality but not to the point of appearing soft. Black levels fluctuate similarly however with the stable contrast and reserved colors this isn’t problematic. Shot digitally the image is devoid of film grain which imparts a clear/smoothness that seemed out of place especially considering the source material. I would have preferred a more film like texture but that’s a stylistic choice. The end result is an excellent high definition presentation that looked great on my big screen.

This DTS-HD Master Audio presentation features extended dynamics built around a nicely balanced surround mix that sounds great. This isn’t what I consider to be an aggressive soundtrack. Dialogue and music play more of a role than then the brief western gunfire exchanges but there are several sequences that allow this mix to flex its dynamic muscle. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. Bass isn’t pulse pounding but it definitively augments the richness and tangibility of small arms and rifle fire. Dialogue was crystalline with excellent intonation and descriptive character. The beautifully crafted music sounds smooth and airy with a deep, room filling quality that mates nicely with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) The making of Hatfields and McCoys – 30 minute documentary

  • “I know these hills” music video featuring Kevin Costner and Modern West with Sara Beck

Final Thoughts:

Based on the destructive Hatfield and McCoy feud, Hatfields and McCoys is a gritty, disturbing and powerful miniseries that viscerally portrays the bitter struggle that ensued between these families and the devastation left in its wake. I found it to be an earthy, elucidating and compelling drama that features excellent performances and complimentary direction/production elements. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home entertainment featuring exemplary high definition audio/video and a disappointing supplemental offering that consists of a bland making of documentary and music video. This is a poignant and engaging film experience that comes highly recommended.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
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Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
post #2 of 10
Quite simply, the best TV western (or, perhaps more accurately, Eastern) since the original LONESOME DOVE. Costner and Reynolds always seem to mesh well together and this is easily their best!
post #3 of 10
Spot on Review, Ralph .. watched it in HD when it came out .. I'm tempted to rewatch the BD's ..
post #4 of 10
Watched the 1st episode today. Decent PQ and AQ, but not impressively so.

I noted that Ted Mann was involved with this project (teleplay credit). Some folks may remember his involvement with Deadwood. It shows in the dialog.

Not overly impressed with the story thus far, but I do expect it will pick up. Tom Berenger is fantastic as the mean old coot.
post #5 of 10
Thanks for the review, Ralph! cool.gif

My copy is due in tomorrow so I'll likely watch it over the weekend if not before. Really looking forward to it...
post #6 of 10
Managed to watch all episodes over the weekend and this was truly an excellent mini-series. I caught it on sale (blu-ray edition) for around $24 and consider it well worth the price. Highly recommended!
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by ozar View Post

Managed to watch all episodes over the weekend and this was truly an excellent mini-series. I caught it on sale (blu-ray edition) for around $24 and consider it well worth the price. Highly recommended!


Glad to hear you enjoyed it oz. cool.gif

post #8 of 10
Totally agree--also got it for $24 from Amazon--great mini-series and a nice addition to my collection. smile.gif
post #9 of 10
Finished watching this. My initial assessment didn't change. Which is that its a great collection of characters and a fine period piece, but the story is lacking.
post #10 of 10
While it may be almost 5 hours of viewing, I'm really anxious to see it all again!

If I can talk the wife into it, we might do that this coming weekend... smile.gif
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