Walking Tall (2004) DVD Review

Walking Tall needs to breathe. This has to be one of the shortest movies to come from a major studio in some time, but the length is perfect for what it is. If you want straightforward action, Walking Tall is what you're looking for.

There's a nice old style approach to making this movie, setting it up in the first few minutes and letting things go from there. It's done in a classic action movie mold, and the Rock is perfectly cast as the vigilante turned sheriff (based on a true story). As a remake of a 1973 piece, it doesn't stay all that true to the source material, other than the piece of wood used as a weapon that becomes a deeper character than any of the actors.

With so little time to do anything, you're not going to sit through much other than fight sequences. The bare bones of the film provide just enough information to give the Rock some purpose to beat people down. These fights are surprisingly brutal for a PG-13 movie, with plenty of cringe-worthy entertainment for the crowd it's aimed at.

There's nothing wrong with that, and for a time waster, Walking Tall handles itself nicely. You can't expect some deep emotional pull, and once people are being beat down with a wooden board, you don't care. It would have been nice to see at least a little development or logic at times, but at least the script lets the Rock do what he does best. (*** out of *****)

MGM has done only a fair job of presenting the film on DVD. There's a nice coat of gloss on this one, with an overall level of sharpness that preserves detail wonderfully. Trouble comes in when things become dark, including ugly compression artifacts and grain in the backgrounds. It's washed out at times, and it's a startlingly rough transition from day to night. There are also instances where the contrast is off, blinding viewers with bright whites and making it difficult to make things out. (***)

If the video were the only disappointing aspect, there wouldn't be much of a problem. Sadly, the audio lacks immersion in the rear speakers. With all the gunfire in a late shootout, it should have been a home theater showcase. It's not. Oddly, the stereo channels have plenty of time to show themselves off and are mixed properly. It only adds to the mystery as to what happened with the rest of the audio. (**)

Features, much like the movie, are over before they begin. A blooper reel, lasting a whopping 45 seconds, contains one priceless moment and not much else. Three deleted scenes offer nothing of note, and given the pacing, they only would have extended the periods between brawls. The alternate ending could go either way without taking or adding much to the end product.

Fight the Good Fight is your typical making-of feature, and unsurprisingly, doesn't discuss anything but the action. Then again, there's not much else to discuss. There's some nice behind-the-scenes footage and little other information.

Two commentaries run over the film, and the one with the Rock is the way to go. He's funny, entertaining, and provides a nice way to sit through the feature. Director Kevin Bray, the director of photography, and the editor provide a more technical side on their track. A photo gallery, trailers, and a four minute feature on Species III end the extras set. (***)

There's a lot of talk in the short featurette about the fighting and how it's portrayed in the movie. Everyone involved was quite adamant about how real and visceral it was, a change from the slow motion and special effects found elsewhere. In this case, they're right. It almost does feel fresh.

Comments (1)

LKM:

I like the rock. I like stupid action movies. This movie isn't stupid anymore. It's just bad. And to make it worse, it's also boring. I want those 87 minutes of my life back.

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