Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: A Million Ways to Die in The West

October 4th, 2014

A Million Ways to Die in The West - Buy from Amazon: DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack

Seth MacFarlane wrote and directed Ted, a movie about a talking Teddy bear that earned more than half a billion dollars worldwide. For his next film, he was given free rein. He decided to make A Million Ways to Die in The West, which made less than $100 million worldwide. Did this film struggle at the box office because it is a bad movie? Or is it just too much of a Seth MacFarlane movie? Is it only for his hardcore fans?

The Movie

The film takes place in Old Stump, Arizona in the 1880s where you have to be a manly man to survive. There's no room for cowards here. This is a problem, because the film focuses on Albert Stark, who is a coward. We meet him as he is in a duel doing whatever it takes to get out of getting shot, from erotic shadow puppets to basic begging. It works, mostly, but it is such a cowardly display that his girlfriend, Louise, dumps him.

To get over the break-up, Albert decides to get drunk with his two best friends, Edward, a cobbler, and Edward's girlfriend, Ruth, a prostitute. After an extended rant about how bad the wild west really is, Albert heads over to Louise to talk to her. It doesn't go well.

After that, we get a little bit of the plot as a way to shake things up. An old prospector just struck it rich, but he has a run in with Clinch Leatherwood and his gang of outlaws. Clinch shoots the prospector and takes his gold, which causes his wife, Anna, to yell at him, which is something he doesn't take kindly to. Clinch and his men are planing on robbing a stage coach, so he sends Anna and Lewis to Old Stump, where she can stay safe.

Edward visits Albert and tries to convince him to get out more, because the breakup is really affecting him. He needs to get over it. Albert agrees, although this plan doesn't go terrible well, because he sees Louise with Foy, who runs the local Moustachery and is much more successful than Albert is. After witnessing yet another death, the pair head to the church. It is there that he first sees Anna. Anna and Lewis, who are posing as siblings to not generate suspicion. After church, Albert goes to confront Foy and it doesn't go well for Albert.

As a result, Albert decides to leave Old Stump and head to San Francisco. He tells Edward and Ruth his decision at the saloon that night, but he is interrupted when Lewis starts a major barroom brawl. Albert and Edward use their usual tactic of pretending to fight in the corner, so no one else hits them. They do this until Albert notices Anna is about to get crushed by a couple of brawling on the balcony, so he rescues her.

The pair get to talking and Anna convinces Albert not to leave Old Stump just yet. The pair of them will go to the country fair that weekend and when Louise sees Albert with Anna, she will be jealous and want Albert back. At first Foy embarrasses Albert in a shooting contest, but then Anna easily beats Foy. This causes Albert and Foy to get into an argument, which ends with Albert challenging Foy to a duel. Now Anna has a week to train Albert in the ways of shooting.

So Anna, the wife of Clinch, the most dangerous outlaw in the west, is teaching Albert how to shoot. You can probably guess how the movie ends.

I'm of two minds when it comes to A Million Ways to Die in The West. On the one hand, there are a lot of funny jokes in the film. Seth MacFarlane's style of humor relies on throwing out as many jokes as possible in as short a time as possible so that even if one joke fails to hit its target, another is right there to take its place. If you have a similar sense of humor as Seth MacFarlane, then you will probably laugh a lot, especially during the first half of the movie.

However, that brings us to the biggest problem. This is a movie that needs to be about 20 minutes shorter and have about half of the plot removed. There are more than enough funny bits in the movie to make for a really good 90-minute comedy. Unfortunately, it is close to two hours long and once the plot takes center stage, there's less time for goofy humor that made the first half funny. Additionally, even jokes that work could have been trimmed a little bit to make the humor have more of an impact. And to be a little blunt, Seth MacFarlane isn't the world's most convincing leading man. On the other hand, I want to see Liam Neeson do more comedy.

The Extras

Extras begin with an audio commentary track with Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron, as well as Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. The DVD also has outtakes and an 11-minute featurette called Fist Full of Dirt, which looks at the look of the movie.

The Blu-ray has that, plus alternate opening, ending, and deleted and alternative scenes. Once Upon a Time, In a Different West is a ten-minute featurette on the creation of the movie. The Good, The Bad and the Increasingly Decreasing Population is a seven-minute look at the huge number cameos in the movie.

The technical presentation is excellent. The level of detail is higher than I was expecting, which is a nice surprise. The colors are vivid, when the scene needs them to be. It's a Western, so there's a lot of browns and that's not the best color to push your HDTV to the max. Likewise, the audio is better than expected with plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers. There's not a ton of dynamic effects, but more than enough to feel immersive.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack costs $20, which is $3 or 18% more than the DVD. That's a great deal for this type of release.

The Verdict

A Million Ways to Die in The West works for the most part, but I think it needed a more aggressive editor to cut out some of the extraneous parts. This would have resulted in a more focused and funnier comedy. If you like Seth MacFarlane, then it is still worth checking out. If you liked the film, there are enough extras on the DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack to lift it to the purchase level, while the latter is the better deal over the former.

- Submitted by:

Filed under: Video Review, A Million Ways to Die in The West, Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth MacFarlane, Giovanni Ribisi, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Evan Jones, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wilde