Broadcast Texas

No surprise Tom Hanks fits News of the World. Even as a western set during post-Civil War reconstruction, Hanks’ remains a likable presence amid deep south misery. He’s an affable, gentle man, wandering into towns and reading from random papers in what’s akin to the first TV anchor gig, but decades before such a thing came into being.

Discovering a small child, Hanks take her with him. In terms of its road movie lineage, News of the World plays out in a pedestrian manner, even roughly segmented into an episodic structure. Each is tense on their own, middling in developing the central arc. It’s Tom Hanks – News of the World inevitably ends happily.

News of the World is best in ignoring the softly coated cinematic history of a John Wayne

For tense shoot-outs and encounters, playing to those western tropes, News of the World is best in ignoring the softly coated cinematic history of a John Wayne. Through Hanks’ eyes, it’s an empathetic view of ugly, brutal truths. Reading about President Grant’s call to end slavery and establish voting rights, the townspeople turn against Hanks, refusing to accepting the federal government’s decisions. The genre is turning in recent years; News of the World is one providing the curve. The villains aren’t the Native American tribes, but rather it’s those ruthlessly exploiting them. Or, those hating Natives for daring to stop capitalism’s crushing march through their land.

In another reading, Hanks rejects the local propaganda, enlightening the locals as to how their leader used them for profit. It’s a stellar moment to show media’s ability to expose truths to an oppressed population, holding more thematic power than the core relationship meant to drive this movie. Credit to Helena Zengel as a young, terrified girl who can’t speak English; her performance is sensational as the script carries her – and Hanks – through familiar tropes. Together they laugh and learn from one another, an entertaining pair, if with little stakes, even in this disgruntled span of Texas.

Fictional as he is, Hanks creates a character who represents a better future, one who regrets serving for the South, losing everything, and realizing how wrong this all was. Amid the callousness and racism, it’s people like him who settled things down. Not perfectly, as today’s news too often shows (and makes the happy times ending superficial at best), but showing the way to erase hatred and see broader implications of the nation’s actions.

News of the World 4K UHD screen shot

Video

Heavy in its digital grading, the deep color fires off flame-lit environments through a deeply amber glow. Come nightfall, the blue and teal tints take hold, dominating the visual space. While the occasional pure primary can slip through (green foliage), News of the World sticks to these dual palettes. It’s firm in this way, not a disc for saturated splendor by design.

Slight low-light noise causes minimal harm to the 4K source. Sharpness looks spectacular, pulling out the western feel from wooden buildings, awesome to see even at distance. News of the World features plenty of wide shots, and it’s just as stellar in close. Facial texture shines when pushed by nearby lanterns or under midday sunlight.

That same sun casts a keen glow, made for HDR. Around campfires, the flames break out from the shadows, invigorating the range. Sticking with a faded look to suggest a certain vintage, shadows pay a bit in terms of depth. There’s plentiful deep gray to go around, or a slight blue tint. True black holds until necessary, used sparingly.

Audio

Rains flood early scenes, washing the soundstage, rushing water into each speaker, heights included. Visits to larger cities step up in ambiance, chatter and horses stretching outward. It’s precise, bold even. Indoor scenes match, keeping up the activity to follow stray music or sound filtering in from outside. Action splits fronts and rears as bullets hit their marks, bouncing and panning expertly. Open air takes the sound effects further out still.

News of the World doesn’t require significant low-end, but does bolster stampeding horses. There’s enough weight from their steps to show the disc’s range. Larger guns produce a potent boom on their own. When it hits, a massive sandstorm pushes deep enough to rumble the room, the aural highlight from this disc.

Extras

Up first, 11-minutes worth of deleted scenes. A seven-minute featurette on the two leads follows, another nearly the same length focused on the action scenes. Then comes Greengrass talking about the project, running one second under 11-minutes. For four minutes, the Kiowa tribe is explored. Greengrass steps into the recording booth for a feature commentary.

News of the World
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

While its central story follows pedestrian plotting, News of the World succeeds by exposing an ugly history through empathetic eyes.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: