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Jane Got a Gun Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Jane Got a Gun (2016) movie poster Jane Got a Gun

Theatrical Release: January 29, 2016 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Gavin O'Connor / Writers: Brian Duffield (story & screenplay); Anthony Tambakis, Joel Edgerton (screenplay)

Cast: Natalie Portman (Jane Ballard), Joel Edgerton (Dan Frost), Ewan McGregor (John Bishop), Noah Emmerich (Bill "Ham" Hammond), Boyd Holbrook (Vic Owen), Rodrigo Santoro (Fitchum), James Burnett (Cunny Charlie), Sam Quinn (Slow Jeremiah), Maisie McMaster (Kate)

Buy Jane Got a Gun from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD • DVD • Instant Video

Everyone knows that winning an Oscar advances an actor's career, but Natalie Portman has proved that isn't always the case. Since her turn in 2010's Black Swan earned her Best Actress, Portman has seen her twenty-year filmography slow, adding just a few credits over the past few years. One presumes it is motherhood (Portman gave birth to her first child a few months after that Oscar victory)
and not opportunity that is keeping the 34-year-old veteran scarce. Not helping matters is that Portman picked a couple of projects that were slow to complete. Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups finally opened last month four years after filming to mixed reviews and muted interest.

Shortly before that, the Portman-headlined western Jane Got a Gun debuted, well over two years after its long, arduous shoot wrapped. It too died with critics and moviegoers, mustering a measly 17th place opening and $1.5 million total gross in wide release. Its 83.5% second weekend drop was the biggest in nine years and third biggest on record dating back to 1982. With its high-profile personnel changes (among those who dropped out were director Lynne Ramsey and actors Michael Fassbender, Jude Law, and Bradley Cooper) and distribution woes (Relativity Media's bankruptcy is but one reason it missed its scheduled August 2014 opening by 17 months), Jane seemed destined to fail, despite boasting such seasoned talent as Portman (also a producer), Joel Edgerton (also a writer), his Warrior director Gavin O'Connor, and Ewan McGregor.

Set primarily in New Mexico Territory in 1871, the film sees Jane Ballard (Portman) caring for her daughter when her husband, Bill "Ham" Hammond (Noah Emmerich) barely makes it home, full of bullets and warning that the Bishop Boys are coming. The film uses flashbacks to establish these Bishop Boys and Dan Frost (Edgerton), Jane's former fiancι, a Civil War veteran who was presumed dead. After dropping her daughter off with a friend, Jane turns to Dan to help protect her home from the feared outlaws who are sure to descend upon it. He has his reservations, not wanting to associate with the woman who left him (prematurely, in his opinion) for another man, but Dan lends some expertise to preparations.

Hired to be a gunslinger, Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) sees his ex Jane Ballard (Natalie Portman) fire a gun in "Jane Got a Gun."

Much of the movie is spent awaiting the Bishop Boys, who don't arrive at Jane and Ham's house until just past the 70-minute mark. By then, we know that ringleader John Bishop (McGregor) is bad news and has done terrible things to Jane and her first child. With the climax unfolding quicker than expected, we get an ending that feels a tad phony and contrived, albeit emotionally satisfying.

Jane does not deserve the fate it received. While westerns remain a hard sell when lacking the allure of auteurs like the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino, the once ubiquitous genre continues to have dramatic value in occasional use.
There is no substitute for scenic vistas and frontier mentalities in contemporary storytelling and even if this film doesn't have the technical virtuosity of a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, it does have enough to keep you invested fully through its brisk runtime.

Portman is good, lending the film prestige that most other actresses in her age bracket would not. Edgerton is even better, emerging as the standout performer as he increasingly seems to do these days. McGregor, the fourth actor cast in the part, does virtually nothing of interest in the role of a villain, which might be his first and perhaps should be his last.

The Weinstein Company, which shouldered release after Relativity Media folded, and home video partner Anchor Bay Entertainment bring Jane to stores next Tuesday on DVD and in the Blu-ray + Digital HD edition reviewed here.

Jane Got a Gun: Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $34.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available as DVD ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Jane Got a Gun looks great on Blu-ray, its 2.40:1 New Mexico compositions remaining sharp and striking throughout. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack also garners notice for its crisp dialogue and attention-grabbing atmosphere.

Natalie Portman plays Jane Ballard, the titular heroine of "Jane Got a Gun."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a troubled production that changed hands and sparked lawsuits, Jane Got a Gun is accompanied by exactly zero bonus features, unless you count the inclusion of Digital HD with UltraViolet, which for some is not nothing.

The disc opens with trailers for The Hateful Eight and Macbeth. These are not accessible by menu and Jane Got a Gun's trailer isn't accessible at all.

The menu loops a scored montage of clips with sound effects. The Blu-ray doesn't support bookmarking, but does resume unfinished playback.

The Digital HD code insert is all that joins the full-color disc in the unslipcovered eco-friendly keepcase.

Assuming a role vacated by Joel Edgerton, Jude Law, and Bradley Cooper, a mustachioed Ewan McGregor does little to distinguish the villain John Bishop.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Jane Got a Gun is far from the disaster you might expect given its delays, dropouts and inability to attract an audience. Your support for this western may flag in its final scenes, but the journey there consistently compels thanks to nice scenery and strong performances from most of the cast. It's a movie to see once and with its complete lack of bonus features, this presentable Blu-ray lends to that.

Buy Jane Got a Gun from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: The Hateful Eight • The Lady in the Van • Star Wars: The Force Awakens • Tumbledown • Son of Saul
Natalie Portman: Black Swan • Thor • Thor: The Dark World • No Strings Attached • The Other Boleyn Girl
Ewan McGregor: The Impossible • August: Osage County • Shallow Grave • The Men Who Stare at Goats • Jack the Giant Slayer
Joel Edgerton: Black Mass • The Great Gatsby • Zero Dark Thirty • Animal Kingdom
Lawless • True Grit (2010) • 3:10 to Yuma | Directed by Gavin O'Connor: Miracle

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Reviewed April 20, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 The Weinstein Company, Relativity Media, Boies/Schiller Films, 1821 Pictures, HandsomeCharlie Films, Stone Village, Weathervane Productions,
and The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment and Anchor Bay Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.