Blu-ray Review: Ephraim's Rescue
Mormon cinema is somewhat an enigma in the world of blockbuster Hollywood popcorn flicks and indie Oscar-grabbing dramas. While relatively young, the releases have ranged from absolute stinkers I won't mention to a few gems such as Saints & Soldiers and 17 Miracles. You don't have to be a Mormon or even know one to jump in but this one of those flicks that definitely has some amazingly powerful scenes that involve early American handcart pioneers and their suffering, struggles and triumphs. Without giving away the story, young Ephraim Hanks takes center stage and most of the characters in the film are actual historical figures. Thought the film is powerful in some spots, it's flawed in others. A running joke about multiple wives is groan inducing and instead of getting a Mormon message out there, it trips over itself. Check it out if you interested at all in American history or religious history.
"Son, it could be worse. Ok, maybe not but..."
Video quality and picture detail various from release to release from Excel Enterainment and Rescue is not different. There is a semi-solid 1080i release that looks heavenly in some scenes but is drowned in DNR like in the screenshot above. For some reason, Mormon cinema hasn't done much in 1080p releases even though the tech is cheap and quality much better. Either way, blacks are quiet dark here and the closeups for the most part, shine in details and quality. Just don't expect a top notch reference realease. Overall, a servicable picture that you can enjoy.
I wash my hands of any Dolby Digital release on a Blu-ray.
While the video is great in some spots and good enough in others, the audio is quite weak. This isn't a bombastic action flick but even the moments were emotions run high and music is present, it just seems like a flat presentation. This may be in part to the Dolby Digital 5.1 compressed track, at least, that doesn't help. I will never understand the release of Dolby Digital on a Blu-ray especially in a 2013 release but, this isn't meant to be a reference disc afterall. Either way, it's average and that's about it.
While there are some truly powerful images and moments, this film isn't as solid as Christensen's previous efforts. With solid video but just servicable compressed (!) audio, the Blu-ray is also average. There is a huge amount of extras on the disc and some music as well. Fans only should purchase this release. Everyone else should at least see it once.