‘Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1’ Review


Kevin Costner’s bold risk of investing in Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 pays off with this entertaining yet brutal look at how the West was first settled. While sprawling and epic, Horizon does not follow the typical movie setup. Normally audiences are introduced to a character and we follow their story. This western takes a different route by placing the viewers into a setting and letting the action begin with no real preface. By dropping us into the story this way, the film fully immerses the audience in this beautiful but harsh world. Since this movie is the first chapter in what is planned to be a four-part saga it does an excellent job at laying the groundwork and putting lots of pieces into play that will pay off later.

Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 is not short on characters or storylines. Throughout the three-hour film, we follow many individuals and families as they journey through the West. These stories begin with tragedy, revenge, and hope. Trust me when I say bring the tissues for this movie because you will need them. To say that this cast is full of stars is an understatement! While watching, I found myself shocked by how many familiar faces I spotted. Since Kevin Costner served as director I assumed his character Hayes Ellison would be front and center. Costner’s Hayes plays a pivotal role and gives just enough crumbs about his past to keep audiences intrigued. While a key player, Costner made sure to fill out the rest of the cast with showstopping talent. Sienna Miller and newcomer Georgia MacPhail will pull at your heartstrings as they play mother and daughter trying to find a new home after their world is turned upside down. Jena Malone as Ellen Harvey demands the screen in what I thought was the most compelling storyline. Ellen is a woman with a dark past that catches up with her in the worst way possible. Leading the wagon train group is Luke Wilson as Matthew Van Weyden. He is tasked with trying to keep as many people alive as possible as they make the cruel journey across thousands of miles. Horizon will cover pre and post-Civil War times in America. We are greeted by some familiar faces in the ranks like Michael Rooker and Sam Worthington. One of the highlights of the film is Jamie Campbell Bower as Caleb Sykes. The Sykes family seems to be the Wild West version of mobsters. Bower, alongside Jon Beavers, plays a pair of brothers that will have your blood running cold with their level of vengeance and cruelty.

One thing that Horizon does very well is tackling the hard and heartbreaking reality of Indigenous people at this time in America’s history. Near the beginning of the film, audiences will discover that Costner pulls no punches when approaching this topic, and shows both sides of the story. We see how settlements popping up in their territories were handled by the White Mountain Apache community. There was no clear answer to having your land stolen out from under you. This struggle is portrayed very well by amazing and talented Indigenous actors like Owen Crow Shoe, Tatanka Means, Bodhi Okuma Linton, and Wase Chief, to name a few. While it does take some time to get there, Horizon shows the turmoil the Apache endured and how it created a division in their own families on how, or if, to fight back. The inclusion of the spoken Apache language was a beautiful detail that brings another level of authenticity to this film. I hope to see even more of the Indigenous storyline throughout the remaining parts of the Horizon saga.

While this first chapter lays the foundation for what is to come, it does so surrounded by the beauty of the Western landscape. As much as this film tells America’s story it is also a love letter to the beautiful countryside that has watched countless tales unfold throughout history. Pairing the gorgeous cinematography with an equally grand score by John Debney was genius. The music carries the audience through moments of sadness to thrilling chases and daring shootouts. With Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 now in theaters audiences can excitedly look forward to the second chapter that is set to debut August 16th. Costner has chapters three and four currently in production as well. This truly American tale is an epic adventurous look at this country’s history and is not to be missed!

I am a Kindergarten paraprofessional & I love movies, shows, & books. I'm in many many fandoms & will gladly fangirl with you.

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