Quigley Down Under - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Quigley Down Under


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Movie: :4.5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:
Final Score: :4stars:




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Movie

As a child of much older parents (they were 40 and 41 when they gave birth to me) I grew up in a household that wasn’t always on the cusp of modernity. That means I grew up listening (at home) to Bing Crosby and Dean Martin rather than AC/DC and Guns n’ Roses that everyone else was (to be fair I had my hidden stash of cassette tapes and CD’s that I rebelled with), and my movie choices were limited to black and white classics and John Wayne westerns. So naturally I have an INCREDIBLY soft spot for the western genre, which was already dying out in the 1980s. However, we had a minor resurgence during that time period in what would best be described as the “Aussie Western”. Films like The Man from Snowy River and Breaker Morant breathed new life into a genre that was trying to be hip and “modern”, while slowly dying out compared to the massive hey day that John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef dominated in. In a last dying gasp before films like Young Guns and Young Guns II sort of ended the franchise, we have Tom Selleck going down under in what would become one of the best westerns of the 1990s.

Tom Selleck is sharpshooter Matt Quigley, an American frontiersman hired by Australian land owner Elliott Marston (Alan Rickman) to come over and hunt dingos for him at an astronomical price. Upon arriving in Australia, Quigley finds out that he’s bit off a bit more than he bargained for. First off the bat he’s mistaken by a mentally damaged woman named Crazy Cora (Laura San Giacomo) for her husband Roy, then he finds out that the “dingos” he’s supposed to be hunting for Marston are in fact the Aboriginal natives of the land that he wants wiped out. Naturally Quigley refuses, only to be turned on by his former “boss” and left out in the desert for dead along with Crazy Cora. Now Quigley and Cora have to make it back to civilization alive, and possible meet out some lead based justice upon Marston and his crew of gunslinger wannabes.

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Quigley Down Under was probably one of the most under rated westerns of the 1990s, despite having Tom Selleck in it. Back in the early 90s the world wanted more action, more humor, and less of the introspective world of a cowpoke. But while Quigley Down Under utilizes a more 1990s layer of humor, it does it simply to make the darker and and more serious elements of the movie more palatable rather than becoming a grim and dark western. Sure, there’s action. Sure Tom Selleck is being the classic tough guy he always played (being a veteran of the older westerns from the 80s he has that persona down pat), but it also takes a good HARD look at the treatment of the Aboriginal people of Australia. Something that most mainstream Aussie films wanted to completely bypass until the 2000s. It also crafted one of the best romance relationships of the genre as well. Cora carries the trappings of a damsel in distress at first. Mentally scarred somehow and a seemingly flakey character that Quigley feels obligated to protect. However, the film really does a great job of fleshing her out bit by bit, showing that she’s really suffering from PTSD due to a horrible incident back in the states, with Quigley bit by bit drawing her out of her shell and bringing her back to normalcy (at least in film world. Yes I’m fully aware that in real life this was heavily truncated in comparison to how natural mental health trauma is dealt with). By the end of the film Cora has gone from the comic relief to a full blown WOMAN that you end up feeling for as a human being and a heroic character instead of just a damsel in distress caricature that Quigley uses.

On the flip side, Alan Rickman is in rare form, hamming it up as one of his main 3 “Alan Rickman villain trilogy” roles (Hans Gruber in Die Hard, Marston in Quigley Down Under and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves), just slathering it deep as the evil land robber Marston. Which makes it all the more delicious when the final confrontation between himself and Quigley takes place, in which Marston believes he has a slam dunk win considering he’s convinced himself that he’s Doc Holliday and Wild Bill Hickock rolled into one.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :4.5stars:
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Originally released back in 2011 by MGM studios (back when they actually released their own content on disc) and then re-released back in 2018 by Shout Studios, Quigley Down Under has undergone a rough road in getting a truly great release. The MGM disc was seen as pretty good back in the day, but by modern standards it’s a decidedly “meh” release video wise. The 2018 release by Shout Studios seems to have been struck from the same aging master so there wasn’t a whole lot that they could to boost up the picture quality except for try and fine tune it a little bit in comparison to the MGM release. Luckily we FINALLY get a nice new fresh 4K scan from the original camera negative, and the results are pretty spectacular. This puts all the previous releases to shame as it gets rid of all the noise and compression issues from the past, as well as the dulled colors from the aging master that was used from MGM. Now Quigley can be seen in all it’s original glory, much more closely imitating the 35mm screening I was able to see for it’s 30th anniversary a few years back. Colors are warm and burnished, with a push towards the sandy brown spectrum as intended by director Simon Wincer. Blacks are deep and inky, and the film sports a very healthy and NATURAL looking grain structure to it. Never once did I think “wow, this looks overly smoothed” nor did I get frustrated by an overly grainy/noisy picture. Image clarity is razor sharp and NEARLY picture perfect, though I did find the dark night time shots sometimes had a little bit of crush to it (something that has been on every release of Quigley Down Under known to man). But all in all, this and the new Blu-ray included are light years over anything we’ve had in the past and a HUGE upgrade from the old Blu-rays.








Audio: :4stars:
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Now, the one thing that I almost wish had gotten an upgrade was the audio track. But at the same time I really appreciate that Shout Studios and MGM decided to NOT upgrade the audio and leave the theatrical 2.0 mix intact. I’m guessing this was the exact same track that MGM and Shout used for the 2011 and 2018 Blu-rays and it is still a solid performer. It won’t have the gut shattering Bass that dedicated LFE track would add, now the expansiveness of the Aussie prairie land, but it it has crystal clear dialog and ADR was kept pretty minimal (although you can tell when it crops up every now and again). Basil Poledouris’s beautiful scoring is impeccably balanced with the action, and while the dynamic range isn’t OVERLY wide, it’s still got some great swells and valleys to the mixing.













Extras: :2.5stars:
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• "Finding Crazy Cora" - Interview with Laura San Giacomo
• "This One Shoots a Mite Further" - Closer Look at the Sharps Rifle with Master Armorer Mike Tristano
• "The Rebirth of a Western" Featurette
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots














Final Score: :4stars:


Is Quigley Down Under perfect? No, it has a few humor issues AND the mental health disparity between himself and Cora can be seen as slightly problematic with modern sensibilities, but it is a dang sight better than 90% of the westerns that came out of the 1980s and 90s (outside of probably Silverado, which will forever be god tier to me) and has absolutely incredible re-watch value. Shout Studios released the film a few years on a collector’s edition Blu-ray, but with the new 4K remaster we get a nice upgrade over the mediocre aging master that was used for the original Shout Blu-ray. As such, this is a pretty kick butt upgrade over the MGM disc, and a solid upgrade over the previously released Shout Blu-ray. Great 1990s western with a very nice 4K transfer with all the collector’s edition extras include? Yes please.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Tom Selleck, Laura San Giacomo, Alan Rickman, Chris Haywood, Ron Haddrick, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed by: Simon Wincer
Written by: John Hill
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 2.0
Sugtitles: English SDH
Studio: Shout Studios
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 120 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 12th, 2024
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Recommendation: Great Watch

 
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Sonnie

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Wow... it's been a while since I've seen this movie... a long while. This was one of my dad's favorites... he loved westerns.
 

Todd Anderson

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I have to say, seeing Tom Selleck in Western garb is an immediate turn-off to me. Not sure why... I guess I just have him pigeonholed as Magnum PI, and I have no memory of this film coming out!

But, after reading your review, I think I need to give this one a watch.
 

Sonnie

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Ole Tom does pretty good as a cowboy.
 

Michael Scott

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I have to say, seeing Tom Selleck in Western garb is an immediate turn-off to me. Not sure why... I guess I just have him pigeonholed as Magnum PI, and I have no memory of this film coming out!

But, after reading your review, I think I need to give this one a watch.

lol, I'm the opposite. I grew up with him playing Louis L'Amour western characters so seeing him as Magnum P.I. was kinda weird.
 
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