Westender (2003)
Vice Films
Extras: Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Trailer

First-time director Brock Morse picked an fascinating project to start off his career. A period fantasy film in which a knight who’s fallen from grace and luck is going through the process of finding himself as he tries to reclaim a valuable ring he lost during a drunk night’s gamble. With every step of his journey he learns a bit more about himself, his inner demons and his strengths.

’Westender’ is a pretty good film that is entirely character driven and remiss of brachial special effects. It is a slow film, though, developing at pace that allows the viewer ample time to explore the wonderful surroundings, landscapes and vistas. Maybe a bit too much time, as the film could be a bit more focused and moving the plot ahead in a steadier manner at times, creating an experience that is a little tighter. At the same time it would change the overall tone of the film, though, and I am not sure if the result would work just as well.

Lightyear Entertainment has prepared a widescreen presentation of the movie for this DVD but despite what is printed on the packaging, unfortunately it is merely letterboxed and not enhanced for 16×9 TV sets, which I consider a major drawback, especially in today’s market. As a result the image looks gritty at time and lacks definition, which is especially evident in the countless nature shots with heavy foliage and other fine details. Colors are string and faithfully reproduced and black levels are solid at all time, creating deep shadows.

The audio is presented as a Dolby Stereo track that is well produced and always clear. No distortion mars the presentation and with a natural frequency response the track always has a pleasing quality. The movies wonderful score is also coming through clear and finely trextured.

As extras the DVD contains a featurette called ’The Creation Of Westender’ which gives viewers a look behind the scenes at the production of the film. Also included are tow deleted scenes and the film’s theatrical trailer.

’Westender’ is a fun movie with plenty of eye candy. You would never believe that this is the first-time effort of the filmmakers and I am definitely looking forward to more films by Brock Morse. Check it out some time.