Hatfields & McCoys Blu-ray Review
It may seem odd to some that Kevin Costner chose to star in a mini-series show on the History channel, but after sitting down to absorb HATFIELDS & MCCOYS, I can’t think of a more appropriate place to show it, even though it was good enough for HBO, Showtime or any other network for that matter. It’s a captivating tale of two men that let their selfish pride destroy themselves and their families. This three part mini-series takes us through the early stages of the feud and shows us every wrong turn and bad decision the patriarchs of the respective families made.
We pick up with Anse “Devil” Hatfield (Kevin Costner) and Randall McCoy (Bill Paxton) as they’re fighting their way through the end of the Civil War for the Confederates. Left for dead, Anse manages to get out of a North attack and make his way back to Randall and the rest of his company. But Anse has had enough and decides to return to his family, deserting his men. This obviously rubs Randall the wrong way and even more so when Randall is taken prisoner by the North later on. When Anse gets back home, he resumes his place as leader of his family and is instantly thrust into a rift between his Uncle Jim (Tom Berenger) and a McCoy soldier that actually fought for the North. Despite Anse’s cautions not to, Jim tracks the McCoy soldier down and murders him, setting the stage for the most famous family feud in history.
Looking back on it, the feud never should have started and that’s easy to say while sitting in the comfort of your living room. But if you put yourself in their shoes and remember how obsessively important family pride was at the turn of the century, you begin to understand how the feud could spiral out of control. Add into the mix the fact that Anse Hatfield was more intelligent and of a higher social standing and Randall McCoy was constantly dealing with an inferiority complex and the feud starts to come together. The fact that the Hatfields were from West Virginia and the McCoys from Kentucky also came into play as the feud was escalated and politicians and the media started to add gasoline to an already out of control fire.
The series is exceptionally well done, even if I started to question whether or not they really had enough material for the nearly 5 hour runtime. A lot of focus was on Anse’s son Johnse (Matt Barr) and his various relations with the McCoy women. Johnse was a central figure in the feud and his indiscretions took the feud to next level, but the focus on his relationships felt more like a soap opera at times and slowed down the pacing of the series. Other supporting players like Uncle Jim, Nancy (Jena Malone), Wall (Powers Boothe) and Cap (Boyd Holbrook) were all great characters who deserved more attention, but did a great job with what they had.
Part Western, part family drama, HATFIELDS & MCCOYS is a very enjoyable mini-series from the History channel. Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton excel in their roles and carry the series forward with each unfortunate turn. The series can be slow at times, but it’s impossible to turn away as you sit and wait to see how the other family is going to react to the next level of payback.
Video: This is a nice transfer with the HD video coming through crystal clear. It’s definitely not a series filled with bright, vibrant colors, but the country settings look great nonetheless.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
The Making of “Hatfields & McCoys (30:50): This is a pretty decent featurette that covers script, plot, the filmmaking process, cast and crew interviews and a bunch of other stuff that fans will enjoy.
Music Video “I Know These Hills” Featuring Kevin Costner & Modern West and Sara Beck