Fox // 1992 // 114 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 13th, 2010
"I do not call myself subject to much at all."
My favorite Michael Mann movie finally lands in high-definition in all of its tomahawk-swinging glory.
It's 1757 and the British and French are carving up New York State with musket fire and cannonballs. Caught in the middle is Hawkeye, the adopted white son of the Mohican people (Daniel Day Lewis, There Will Be Blood). He, his brother and his father (Russell Means) find themselves engulfed in both the European spat and a blood feud of a fearsome Huron warrior (Wes Studi).
But it won't be geopolitical warmongering that gets them running uphill and firing muskets at rival Native American tribes; nope, it's all about the ladies.
I'll spare you a ponderous analysis of why Michael Mann's French and Indian War epic is so awesome. You know it's awesome. I know it's awesome. Instead, in celebration of the film's debut on high definition, I'll present the case that Last of the Mohicans is the greatest film for cross-gender appeal; that is, it makes for the perfect compromise film for men and women alike (and yes, I am embracing the antiquated "chick flick"/ "guy movie" stereotypes).
For the ladies
Daniel Day Lewis and his Danielle Steele bookcover flowing mane is pretty much the epitome of fantasy stud Alpha male, right? Hawkeye is mysterious, sensitive, good-looking, soft-spoken and, if you're his girlfriend and your life is being threatened, a relentless killing machine. And though it might be a tad off-putting to some, his method of courtship, i.e., staring at you, is a guaranteed winner. Plus, he'll make out with you in the most dramatic locale available to heighten the sensation, be it on top of a fort under siege or underneath a waterfall with a Huron war party in pursuit.
Then there's The Line, that small piece of dialogue that appears to have the power to turn most women's knees to linguini: "I will find you!" (It is the all-time favorite movie line of both my mom and a college girlfriend, so there's that fascinating data point.)
For the tragic love story, you can't do much better than Unkas and Alice, the kid siblings of our heroes. Both provide arguably the most emotionally powerful scenes in the film.
For the guys
If for some reason you get antsy during all the emoting, rest assured that just around the corner lies a stupendously crafted action sequence. In fact, it is the love stories that prompt the good guys to spring into such lethal action and their noble motivation to Fight for Love adds much-appreciated impact to the mayhem.
Mann is able to make canoeing, uphill running and deer-hunting blisteringly intense. The massive battles of the fort siege and the ambush are expertly staged and the culminating scene, where Hawkeye and his family decimate Magwa's war party, is one of my favorite actions moments ever. Does it get better than watching Magwa get annihilated by a middle-aged bad-ass?
Okay, that's enough gross oversimplification of gender roles. A great movie is a great movie is a great movie and Last of the Mohicans is a great movie. Action, romance, breathtaking landscapes, compelling historical settings and a killer score add up to an experience everyone will be able to enjoy.
In high-definition, Mohicans is, sadly, a mixed offering. The 2.40:1 transfer (1080p, 38MBPS) isn't as impressive as I would have liked. Lacking the high-end brightness and clarity of more stylized Blu releases, Mohicans brings a darker, grittier look. Resolution is increased marginally, more noticeable when the action opens up in the daylight, particularly in the ambush battle and the final pursuit. The plethora of dark scenes in the film benefits little from the format jump.
Though the picture didn't blow me away, the sound did, a riveting 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that utilizes the surrounds well and pushes out Trevor Jones's and Randy Edelman's legendary composition.
Extras may the release's saving grace: Michael Mann offers an interesting commentary track and a 40+ minute retrospective featurette is well-done, featuring behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew.
Finally, this cut of the film thankfully maintains the original ending, expelling the clunky last-minute lecture by Chingachgook.
The video treatment is an underachiever, but everything else about this Blu-ray is top-notch. And the movie continues to be fantastic.
Not Guilty. Go with the blessing of the council Long Rifle.
Review content copyright © 2010 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Not Rated