In a time when Mel Gibson was still beginning to become the oh-so-famous guy he is now, "The River" is a film that many might not really know about.
Tom and Mae Garvey (Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek) and their two kids struggle to make it in life. Tom does everything he can to keep his farm running and producing enough money to get by. When the rain comes, the Garvey's have to do everything possible to keep the flood waters away from their land and their home. As harsh times continue to come, Joe Wade (Scott Glenn) threatens to buy the farm and force the Garvey's out of their home. As Tom is tested to his breaking point, the only thing holding him together is family, their love for each other, and their farm. With a little help from the community, the Garvey's must do all they can to keep their way of life afloat.
"The River" is a film that is definitely not for everyone. Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek do a great job in the film, but it is just a slow movie. It is about the hardships that a family goes through during tough times. There isn't a lot of action, there aren't even a lot of things happening...they go broke, they almost lose the farm to a flood, they go broke some more, and almost lose their farm to a flood again.
"The River" is a moving film, despite its sluggishness. We feel for this family and want to see them make it through the harsh times. We want more than anything for them to make it, not only their farm but to make it as a family and not let anything tear them apart. In this respect, "The River" is a good film, and one that I enjoyed watching this one time.
Am I glad that I watched "The River?" Yes, I enjoyed watching it and falling for the Garvey's. It is always fun to see Gibson in his early years and see how much he has changed. Would I ever watch it again? No. Sure I enjoyed Gibson, and I liked the Garvey family, but there is absolutely no reason for me to watch it again.
"The River" unfortunately suffers from age with this release on HD. There is very much a lack of detail in dark areas, and the picture is quite soft throughout. Nothing really stands out and "pops" at us like it should. The only thing that I really was quite surprised by was the skin tones. They were surprisingly even and near spot on in color. Everything else however was quite lacking.
Here we get a 5.1 Dolby Digital track that could have been a 2.1 track for all I cared. The surrounds didn't do anything for me and just felt like a stereo version that had been "emulated" to be a 5.1 track. The only time that the surrounds really felt anything was when it was raining and the river was rushing...other than that, we just can't seem to get a good audio track from this release.
What? Extras? Movies still do that? That is so yesterday. Oh, sorry, nothing to see here!
"The River" is entertaining for one viewing and one viewing only. It is an enjoyable film about one familie's struggles, and their love that carries them on. Unfortunately the video quality is mediocre, and the audio quality isn't any better. Extras...none, skip this release of "The River."