Texas Killing Fields Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
- Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: R
- Run Time: 105 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 31, 2012
- List Price: $29.99
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(All Blu-rayDefinition.com screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Ami Canaan Mann, daughter of filmmaker Michael Mann (Manhunter; Heat; Collateral) makes her feature-film directorial debut with this run-of-the-mill crime procedural Texas Killing Fields that plays like a bad extended episode of CSI.
With little rhyme, reason, or purpose, Texas Killing Fields, purportedly based on real events, follows two Texas City detectives, Mike Souder and ex-New Yorker Brian Heigh (Sam Worthington and Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they track several suspects wanted for the serial killings of women murdered and dumped in the infamous “killing fields,” an vast area of marsh long known for its gruesome history. Helping them out is Mike’s ex-wife Det. Pam Stall (Jessica Chastain; The Tree of Life) from another county. Brian has also taken a liking to a young delinquent from a broken home, Little Anne (Chloë Grace Moretz) and feels a need to keep here protected as he goes about his investigation.
Now, the issues with Texas Killing Fields are numerous. It’s not that the acting or dialogue are bad, but the film itself as no clear point or purpose. It meanders from beginning to end with no real perspective. We aren’t given a look into the lives of the women who are being killed, so we are never allowed to sympathize with them on any level. We’re told that Brian is religious and it is indicated that he is “tortured” for some reason or the other, but, why? We never know, we’re just meant to accept this and move on. Oh, yeah, that’s why he’s so intent on keeping Little Anne safe. Okay. As for the suspects in the murders, let’s just say the “investigation” is surface deep and if you don’t pick out which guy is the real killer early on, then you haven’t been watching the same film I just did.
Perhaps Ami Canaan Mann needs to take a few more lessons from her dad and give it another go, maybe a few sessions watching Manhunter? Or not.
Texas Killing Fields certainly looks moody and has a lot going on in its imagery that comes across nicely in this high definition AVC transfer from Anchor Bay Entertainment. There are some spots where noise jumps a tad, but otherwise the image looks nice and clean with deep blacks and strong shadow details. Flesh tones aren’t exactly lifelike, the filmmakers opting for a more muted palette most of the time. Skin, however, does have good texture as does clothing.
Although there is a fine lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack provided on this Blu-ray release of Texas Killing Fields, those extras two channels just may be overkill in this case. I would be lying if I said I really noticed any difference or any sort of extended soundfield in this audio mix. In fact, the surround channels aren’t really utilized much at all, and there is certainly not any kind of discrete information sent to the two back channels. There is just some mild ambience – very mild – that comes into play. There were even a couple of instances where an opportunity to fully utilize the advantages of a 7.1 mix were obviously missed, such as during a rainstorm at a crime scene.
Additionally, there is a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix that is inexplicably listed in both the menu screen and on the packaging as “Spanish Mono,” but a quick check of this track reveals very obvious stereo panning in its Dolby 2.0 encodement.
An obligatory audio commentary is included alongside an HD version of the original theatrical trailer as the only extras on this barebones release.
- Audio commentary with director Ami Canaan Mann and writer Donald F. Ferrarone
- Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24)
The Definitive Word
All flash and no substance makes Texas Killing Fields watchable, but a sad waste of time, really. Strike one for Ami Canaan Mann on her feature debut. However, like many other not so great films before it, Texas Killing Fields actually makes a very decent Blu-ray release as far as its audio and video quality.
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