FROM MY OWN PRIVATE COLLECTION "3:10 to Yuma" (2007)

2007 was a great, great year for movies. Among the many notable titles was this remake of the 1957 black and white western starring Glenn Ford. Generally, in my opinion, it's hard to beat the original, but this is one of those rare cases where the more mordern version outdoes its predecessor by leaps and bounds.

It's nicely orchestrated, from the direction (James Mangold) to the writing (Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Halsted Welles) to the lush cinematography (Phedon Papamichael) to the tight editing (Michael McCusker), all of which make for a coherent and exciting action adventure.

Not to mention, the acting ain't too shabby either. Christian Bale is great in the lead as Dan Evans, creating a realistic anti-hero that's easy to root for. Peter Fonda is likewise fun to watch in the most villainous role I've seen him in to date. Other actors worthy of praise include Alan Tudyk, Logan Lerman and Kevin Durand, who makes the most of his short screentime (and is quickly turning out to be one of my favorite character actors).

But the film ultimately belongs to two people: Russell Crowe and Ben Foster. Honestly, it's hard to watch Crowe do anything and not become fully engaged in what he's doing. Here he plays one of the most likable bad guys I've seen anyone portray on screen, and he delivers some of the the best lines of dialogue in the entire film ("Even bad men love their mamas"). Evil as Crowe or Fonda's character may be, they can't touch the intimidation level Foster conveys by merely staring, or standing.

As a soundtrack connoisseur, I would be remiss in not mentioning Marco Beltrami's perfect, Academy Award-nominated music score. At times it's exciting enough to get your adrenaline pumping, and at other times, it transforms into this quiet, soft, pensive piece of composition. Standout tracks include "Main Title," "Chinese Democracy," "One for the Road / Storm Clouds," "One Man Left," "Bible Study," and "The 3:10 to Yuma."

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