Costner can actually direct!

Kevin Costner earned back large quantities of respect with this, the best film he’s ever directed (yes, including the overrated Dances with Wolves). Costner stars as Charley Waite, a quiet, somber cowboy with a dark past. Waite is driving cattle in Montana at a time when ranchers are starting to gather up land and restrict free grazing. While Waite and his partner, Boss (Robert Duvall), might understand that the times are a changin’, an evil rancher’s violent ways don’t set well with them, and it all leads to one helluva shootout. Costner shows that he has the eye and heart for big-scope epics, as well as tense action sequences (the final shootout is historic filmmaking). It’s a little slow at times, but the beautiful scenery allows for a little patience with the pacing. Annette Bening is sweet as the woman that melts Waite’s cold heart. This film definitely puts Costner back on the directorial map after the mistake that was The Postman.

Special Features: This is a disc that makes geeks like me so grateful for the DVD format. An extensive menu of deleted scenes includes intros, explanations and even apologies by Costner, who evidently had some great stuff cut from his movie for timing’s sake. The quality of the deleted stuff stands as a good argument for Costner to revisit his film someday with a director’s cut. The two-DVD set also includes the exceptional Beyond Open Range: A Director’s Journal in which Costner narrates over video depicting the creative process that was the film. Storyboards, an insightful film commentary by Costner and a historic look at the 1800s, once again narrated by the very generous Costner, make this a must purchase.

Movie: B+

Special Features: A

Geek Factor: 8