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Aharon Keshales
Jason Sudeikis, Evangeline Lilly, Mike Colter
Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado, Kai Mark

Paroled convict Jimmy Ray tries to give his dying girlfriend happiness during her remaining days but outside factors complicate this endeavor.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $29.97
Release Date: 12/14/2021

• “Meet the Cast” Featurette
• “The Making of South of Heaven” Featurette
• Previews


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-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


South of Heaven [Blu-Ray] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 29, 2021)

Jason Sudeikis initially gained success as a member of the Saturday Night Live cast, and he comes from a comedy background in general. Sudeikis’s hit Apple TV series Ted Lasso may now stands as his biggest claim to fame, but that show leans funny, so it doesn’t stand tremendously out from his standard MO.

With 2021’s South of Heaven, however, Sudeikis firmly embraces dramatic fare. This doesn’t act as Sudeikis’s first foray into more serious territory, but it still represents a departure from his usual work.

Sentenced to 12 years in prison due to an armed robbery conviction, Jimmy Ray (Sudeikis) gets parole. His longtime girlfriend Annie (Evangeline Lilly) suffers from terminal cancer, so Jimmy intends to make her as happy as possible during her waning days.

Unfortunately, matters prove less simple. When Jimmy gets an illegal job from his sleazy parole officer (Shea Whigham), he finds himself up against crime boss Whit Price (Mike Colter) and needs to deal with a mix of complications that threaten his happiness with Annie.

That doesn’t seem like an inevitable plot progression, as I easily could see a version of Heaven that follows the Love Story pattern. We could find a story of doomed love that milks weepy melodrama for all it can.

Heaven largely ignores that side of the tale. While Annie’s illness acts as a ticking clock, the film focuses much more on the obstacles thrown in front of Jimmy that potentially keep him from her.

Which also seems like a viable story, albeit one without a lot of real creativity. We’ve seen umpteen examples of good guys who messed up, wound up in jail, tried to reclaim their lives and encountered multiple challenges along the way. At no point does Heaven threaten to develop into anything original or creative in this regard. We get the expected narrative evolution and not much that stands out as fresh.

I can forgive the lack of creativity, but the absence of much real drama becomes a bigger obstacle. Given the story at hand, the movie’s 120-minute running time seems excessive, and the film loses steam well before it concludes.

Though it does show some signs of life in the tale’s second half. Whereas the first hour feels pretty trite and predictable, the subsequent span perks up due to a double-kidnapping, as Whit abducts Annie and Jimmy nabs Price’s son Tommy (Thaddeus J. Mixson).

Colter does very well as the violent but fair crime boss, and he creates good interactions with Lilly. In addition, Mixson and Sudeikis boast fun chemistry in their handful of scenes.

These moments of intrigue and delight don’t last, though, and by its final half-hour, Heaven reverts to semi-ennui. Not that I think the film actually bores, but it retreats to the sense of dramatic mediocrity it carries in its first half.

Perhaps a shorter version of the film would better satisfy, as the running time really does make Heaven wear out is welcome. The movie comes with a good cast and occasional signs of life, but the end product leaves me underwhelmed.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

South of Heaven appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect generally positive visuals here.

For the most part, sharpness appeared good. While the image occasionally felt a bit on the soft side during interiors or wider shots, the majority of the movie came across with acceptable to good delineation.

Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear. I also noticed no edge haloes nor print flaws.

In terms of palette, Heaven favored amber/orange much of the time, with some light teal as well. These hues lacked much pep but they seemed more than adequate.

Blacks appeared full and dense, while low-light shots gave us good clarity. This didn’t become a great image, but it worked fine most of the time,

Though not packed with action, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack accentuated the story. Most of the livelier moments related to vehicles or Jimmy’s job, but even those didn’t manage to use the spectrum in an especially vivid manner.

The film emphasized quiet ambience and not much more. A little gun violence popped up along the way, but not enough to make a real difference in the track’s overall impact.

Within those gentle confines, sound quality satisfied. Music was full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech came across as crisp and natural. The mix didn’t do much but it seemed acceptable.

Two featurettes appear here, and Meet the Cast runs six minutes, 17 seconds. It includes comments from co-writer/director Aharon Keshales, producer Chadd Harbold, and actors Jason Sudeikis, Evangeline Lilly, Mike Colter, Jeremy Bobb, Thaddeus J. Mixson and Shea Whigham.

As implied by the title, “Meet” looks at cast, characters and performances. Some insights emerge but much of the program feels superficial.

The Making of South of Heaven goes for five minutes, 16 seconds and involves Sudeikis, Lilly, Keshales, Harbold, and director of photography Matt Mitchell.

“Making” covers story and development, photography, Keshales’ impact and other aspects of the production. Like “Meet”, “Making” becomes a decent but lackluster overview.

The disc opens with ads for Galveston and The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. No trailer for Heaven appears here.

Every once in a while, South of Heaven perks to life. However, it plods too much of the time, and its talented cast can’t overcome all these slow spots. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio along with minor bonus features. This feels like a decent movie but not one that boasts the consistency it needs to succeed.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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