Considering the cult status of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s 1996 film, From Dusk till Dawn, you might find surprising that it wasn’t a blockbuster hit. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold a special place in Tarantino and especially Rodriguez’s heart. Considering its moderate success, if it weren’t a passion for the film makers, it wouldn’t have spawned two direct to video sequels, a video game, and now full-fledged television series on Rodriguez’s own El Rey network. Considering the El Rey network is only available with a handful of television providers, this new Blu-ray may be the only viewing option for fans of the franchise.
Where the direct to video sequels and the From Dusk till Dawn video game attempt to bookend the film, the first season of the television series retells the events of the original movie. Don’t worry, though. It’s not a beat for beat recreation of the same story. Rodriguez lamented in an interview with the San Antonio Express News that “There was so much I wanted to explore in that movie that I didn’t get to,” and the series lets him remedy that. The ten episodes let viewers get to know the infamous Gecko brothers much better as well as providing further insight into the Mesoamerican mythologies the film references at its end.
Even if the original cast of the From Dusk till Dawn movie were interested in reprising their roles, their salaries would be prohibitive to making a television series. That means that all of the characters have been recast. Instead of Clooney and Tarantino as the Gecko brothers, D.J. Cotrona and Zane Holtz take the starring roles. The Fuller family is now comprised of Robert Patrick as the father Jacob and Madison Davenport and Brandon Soo Hoo as the kids. Eiza Gonzalez takes over Salma Hayek’s iconic Santanico Pandemonium and Wilmer Valderrama adds substance to Cheech Marin’s Carlos.
The From Dusk till Dawn television series also introduces a foil to the bank robbing brothers. A Texas Ranger named Freddie Gonzalez, played by Jesse Garcia is always one step behind Richie and Seth. While this adds some urgency to the Gecko brother’s flight, I personally found this aspect the weakest of the retelling. Surprisingly, the acting is mostly pretty solid and as established as the original cast was in the film, the new actors are almost entirely all believable. Rodriguez’s film resources also help insure there is little drop off in the quantity and quality of the special effects.
If you’re interested in digging into the world of From Dusk till Dawn a little further, the Season One Blu-ray package is probably a worthy choice. Presented in a sharp 1080p high definition and a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the three Blu-ray discs run 452 minutes. My only complaints with the transfer were that I felt the blacks could have been a tad sharper, and the some of the CGI wasn’t perfectly matched. A lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, surprisingly only in English, offers great separation and Engilsh SDH subtitles. The third disc holds a number of extras, including a faux “Big Kahuna” commercial, though many of the featurettes cover the same material.
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