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The Postman (Blu-ray)
Warner Home Video / 1996 / 178 Minutes / Rated R
Street Date: September 08, 2009
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Reviewed by Aaron Peck
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
What a complete miscalculation in filmmaking! 'The Postman,' has got to be one of the most ill-timed, unintentionally funny epics in the history of cinema. Kevin Costner's 'The Postman' plays out more like a spoof of a spaghetti western than a heart-wrenching post apocalyptic tale. Didn't Costner learn his lesson with another little turkey like this? It's just so silly that it's impossible to take serious.
Civilization is rebuilding itself after a worldwide nuclear war. Groups of people have formed colonies throughout the United States, although curiously, the movie only gives us a glimpse at the Pacific Northwest. This nuclear war apparently was so bad that it wiped out every form of technology (except for guns of course). The people ride horses (thank heavens all the horses survived). Along with the various colonies that have popped up, a renegade militia has taken hold of the countryside.
Led by General Bethlehem the militia rides from town to town taking young, able-bodied men to recruit and stealing supplies for his army. Costner plays a man who wanders the countryside doing Shakespeare for the townsfolk with his mule(?!?) and just so happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when General Bethlehem's squad comes trotting in on their horses looking for new conscripts.
After Costner escapes Bethlehem's band of not-so-merry men, he ends up finding an old mail truck in the middle of the forest, and in that truck...he finds...wait for it...a certain uniform. BOOM! Disguising himself as a mailman, he walks to a nearby town hoping to find food. He tells the people that the United States Government has been restored, and that there's a new president. From that point on he's simply known as The Postman.
At a whopping 178 minutes 'The Postman' follows each and every epic movie cliché to a "T." The Postman falls in love and gets a fair young lady pregnant. Of course, as in any such movie, he'll encounter Tom Petty as once famous rocker... Tom Petty (Wait! What?!!). And we all know at some point during the movie The Postman and General Bethlehem will have a showdown. When that showdown happens "anti-climactic" doesn't begin to describe the scene.
'The Postman' is chock full of sincere yet absurd moments, with one of the most famous being The Postman riding past a child to take a letter. It's hard not to laugh as The Postman turns to see a little boy, arm held aloft, and in his out-stretched hand, a letter. At full gallop The Postman rips the letter from the boy's hand, all in slow motion. Instead of the tears that scene was supposed to create, you'll most likely be bursting with laughter. Not good laughter though, because at that point you realize that there's really no hope for this movie.
What more is there to say? All these characters might just as well have been wiped out by nukes, because there's nothing going on here that warrants a film like this, let alone one that run three minutes longer than The Godfather!!!
Accompanying a lackluster movie is a comparably disappointing video transfer. The 1080p/VC-1-encoded transfer is average at best. The biggest complaint here is the copious amounts of noticeable edge enhancement used throughout the film. Skin tones don't fare well either, as they take on a pinkish hue. Delineation, during night scenes, is also rough; obscuring faces and objects. Grain is never overbearing, but does become overly troublesome in a few scenes throughout the film. Errant noise and specks pop up from time to time. Fine detail, however, comes out ahead of anything else. Clothing, facial features such as hair and stubble, lush Pacific Northwest vegetation, and intricate patterns are all fully rendered and for the most part beautiful. Colors are presented well here also. The greens of the lush forests are perfectly contrasted with the drab browns and earth tones worn by all of the characters. This catalogue title isn't winning any awards for video presentation, but it is a substantial upgrade from its murky DVD counterpart.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is fairly underwhelming. 'The Postman' presents itself as a film of epic stature, but it fails to sound that way. Dialogue, while offered clearly most of the time, does occasionally get overpowered during some sequences. Ambient noise is the real problem for this audio track. The surrounds are far too often silent, or muted. Streets of towns can be full of people, yet the surround channels don't let us in on that. LFE booms during explosions of cannon fire, and during hoof beats of Calvary moving in. The musical score is handled nicely and is piped through the front and surround channels, which is the most encompassing anything really gets here.
Pretty sparse on special features. A Theatrical trailer is available, along with one other special feature.
- The Postman's CGI Route (HD, 11 min) - The special effects artists offer a voiceover as we look at storyboards from the film. This feature basically covers the set that was built for the dam city, and the CGI work that went into the completely pointless shot of Costner zooming down a zip line in a metal box.
Guess it got lost in the mail. Har har.
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"Guilty pleasure" gets thrown around a bit with this title. While I think it could be categorized as such for some people, the mere fact that the movie weighs in at a bloated 178 minutes pretty much negates the ability to watch it over and over as the "pleasure" part of the picture is all but absent. The disappointing video and audio presentations only push this title farther into the post-apocalyptic realm of skiiiiiiiiip it!