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The Best of Enemies Blu-ray Review



Civil rights activist Ann Atwater faces off against C.P. Ellis, Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1971 Durham, North Carolina over the issue of school integration. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release of The Best of Enemies.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

85



Details:

Studio and Year: Universal - 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 133 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Nick Searcy, Bruce McGill
Written & Directed by: Robin Bissell
Music by: Marcelo Zarvos
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: July 2, 2019


"Allies Can Sometimes be Found in the Unlikeliest of Places"


Synopsis:

“Civil rights activist Ann Atwater faces off against C.P. Ellis, Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, in 1971 Durham, North Carolina over the issue of school integration.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


My Take:

A timely drama that centers on an unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis (Sam Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader who reluctantly co-chaired a community summit, battling over the desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina during the racially-charged summer of 1971. The incredible events that unfolded would change Durham and the lives of Atwater and Ellis forever.

When I initially saw the trailer for The Best of Enemies I was immediately taken in by it. Firstly, I will pretty much watch anything that Sam Rockwell is in and secondly, its fact-based story seemed right up my alley and lastly, Taraji P. Henson, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite character actresses plays opposite Sam. Written and directed by Robin Bissell and Inspired by true events chronicled in the book by Osha Gray Davidson, I hadn’t heard of this story before seeing the movie, which I suppose isn’t surprising, given that it’s focus is specific to Durham NC and their struggles with desegregation of their schools. That doesn’t make it any less important from a historical perspective as there a similar real-life events and people that stepped up for this important cause.

The Best of Enemies is quite interesting as we get to see two very different people forced together, each by the politics motivated by their desire to their needs met. Character development is solid as we get to see both sides of this equation as well as some of the tensions that set them apart. What we don’t get is an emotionally charged narrative that takes us below the surface, allowing an up-front depiction of not only the times but, a deeper look at not only the perpetrators but the true victims as well. This is probably the film’s biggest shortcoming. While that is rather obvious, I did find the film in general, to be entertaining, from a heart in the right place perspective. The performances by Henson and Rockwell, who shared wonderful onscreen chemistry, are spot on. Honorable mention goes out to Anne Heche in her small supporting role as C.P. Ellis’ wife.

The Best of Enemies doesn’t stand out among the better films that depict its subject but, it shouldn’t be disregarded as a throwaway either. It has something viable to offer despite its formulaic narrative approach. At well over two hours I didn’t find that it dragged and, more often that not, found myself caught up in the story and performances. I believe that those who generally enjoy films of its ilk will more than likely enjoy it.


Replay Value:


Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material, racial epithets, some violence and a suggestive reference.


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: 82
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA



Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



The Best of Enemies comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.

The high definition video quality was on par with other new release films of its type, and looked great. Colors were natural looking with a pleasing and reserved quality that capably handled the somewhat limited palette required by the settings and clothing featured in the film. Flesh tones varied a bit with some appearing well delineated and lifelike while others had a slightly pale appearance. Contrast was spot on which augmented the beautifully captured natural lighting of the exterior locations featured in the film. Images were detailed and crisp, with definable lines and appreciable dimension. While I noticed sporadic occasions where resolution fluctuated slightly this appeared innate to the photography and never called fidelity into question. Blacks were strong with discernable gradational quality while detail in dark areas and low lit sequences was estimable which enhanced depth. The video was rendered well, and didn’t show any signs of compression related anomalies or video artifacts.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack readily handled the elements contained in this dialog driven film. The presentation retained a front-loaded perspective with well-defined and clearly articulated dialog that extended well into the room. Sounds were reproduced with discerning clarity and delineation that brought forth plenty of subtle nuance and low level detail. Surround activity was limited to rear channel spatial cues and occasional directional sounds. This isn’t a dynamically demanding soundtrack however this lossless presentation was a perfect match with the source material and sounded fine.


Bonus Features:
  • Make a Connection - Featurette
  • An Unlikely Friendship
  • Ann Atwater
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD
  • Digital Copy




Final Thoughts:

Written and directed by Robin Bissell and Inspired by true events chronicled in the book by Osha Gray Davidson, The Best of Enemies is a period docudrama that has large aspirations but, doesn’t quite achieve them. It does make its point but, takes very few chances in the process leaving its emotional weight lacking. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits mated with a light supplemental package that is worth checking out. The Best of Enemies doesn’t stand out among the better films that depict its subject but, it shouldn’t be disregarded as a throwaway either. It has something viable to offer and deserves in place near the top of the Blu-ray rental queues of genre fans.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviewer
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