A Million Ways to Die in the West Blu-ray Review
Things weren’t easy in 1882. Those that prospered were tough and knew what to do to survive. Old Stump, Arizona sheep farmer Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane, TED) is not one of those men. In actuality, he’s a bit of a wimp (although the opening narration is a bit more harsh) who tries to joke his way out of a shootout.
It’s that sort of inaction that makes his girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried, who will appear in MacFarlane’s TED 2), leave him for another man, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris, GONE GIRL), who runs the town’s mustache shop—it’s no wonder Stark’s considers the frontier to be nothing more than “a disgusting, awful, dirty cesspool of despair.” It’s around this time that outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson, who will also star in TED 2) enters the picture and Stark gets a little too familiar with his wife, Anna Barnes-Leatherwood (Charlize Theron, PROMETHEUS).
As with the majority of MacFarlane’s other works, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST tries too hard to be hysterical. There are certainly funny moments, like those that ponder why people in the Wild West never smiled in photographs and just how unbearable such a life would be (there may be some truth to the Disease of the Month Club), but with such a high volume, the percentage is extremely low. (It’s comparable to FAMILY GUY’s nonstop “That reminds me of the time…” gags, one of the show’s trademarks and most criticized bits.)
It’s the onslaught of jokes that contribute to the movie’s excessive runtime. Not only did A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST not need to border two hours (the Unrated cut stretches to 135 minutes), it could have been trimmed to under 90 minutes. It could have even been altered in places to be rewritten as one of Brian and Stewie’s “Road to…” episodes.
Also extending the runtime are the subplots, notably the one involving a prostitute who believes in abstinence before marriage (Sarah Silverman, who voiced Vanellope von Schweetz in WRECK-IT RALPH) and her boyfriend (Giovanni Ribisi, PLAYING IT COOL), who is one of the few men in town who hasn’t had a go at her. It’s running jokes like that that serve no purpose to the story and show just how badly someone like MacFarlane needs someone (an editor? a studio head?) to tell him No.
One of the other recurring gags is the collection of cameos, including Gilbert Gottfried as Abraham Lincoln (who else?), Dennis Haskins as a snake oil salesman, Bill Maher as a supposed comedian and Ewan McGregor as a random cowboy; Jamie Foxx and Christopher Lloyd also turn up to revive favorite characters.
And that’s about how A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST tries to win the audience over: by wearing them down until they crack a smile. It’s like MacFarlane and company are consciously hearing silence and know they’ll be forced to say, “Well, if you didn’t think that was funny, wait until you hear this one!”
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer features excellent details, strong colors (particularly in exterior scenes) and an overall sharp image.
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The audio is also without any noticeable flaws, featuring clean dialogue as well as sound effects (notably gunfire and animal noises) that add to the atmosphere.
Theatrical Version (1 hr. 56 mins.) – Unrated Version (2 hrs. 15 mins.)
Feature commentary with director/producer/co-writer Seth MacFarlane, co-writers and executive producers Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild and star Charlize Theron: The contributors have a great chemistry that makes the track quite enjoyable.
Once Upon a Time, in a Different West (10:06): MacFarlane, Sulkin and more touch on the making of A MILLION WAYS TO DIE, with comments on the story, cast, characters and approach.
A Fistful of Dirt…in Your Mouth (10:49) focuses on the crew’s attempts to make the movie look good and authentic.
The Good, the Bad and the Increasingly Decreasing Population (6:41) puts the spotlight on the cast and cameos.
Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes (10:49): There are seven here, which can be viewed separately or as a whole. They are: “My Job Sucks Too – Alt,” “Blood Rag,” “Albert & Edward Walk and Talk – Alts,” “Wrapped Candies – Extended,” “Puns at the Shooting Gallery,” “Barn Jokes – Extended” and “Dream Sequences – Alts.”
Alternate Opening (3:27) – Alternate Ending (0:47)
Gag Reel (5:43)