Machine Gun Preacher (2011)

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Released 19-Apr-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Menu Animation & Audio
Trailer-Hunger Games, Headhunters, and 50/50
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 123:35 (Case: 129)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Marc Forster
Studio
Distributor
Relativity Media
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Gerard Butler
Michelle Monaghan
Kathy Baker
Michael Shannon
Madeline Carroll
Souleymane Sy Savane
Grant R. Krause
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Asche & Spencer
Thad Spencer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"Hope is the greatest weapon of all."

The opening scenes of Machine Gun Preacher sets the context for the circumstances in Sudan, where the paramilitary army of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) are attacking a village and slaughtering innocents. Make no mistake - the LRA as portrayed here are violent and sadistic thugs intent on murder, rape and mayhem. Back to the American rust-belt of Pennsylvania we first meet Sam Childers (Gerard Butler) on his release from prison, where the formerly drug addicted and alcoholic biker is reunited with his born-again ex-stripper wife Lynn (Michelle Monaghan). After a violent episode while accompanied by best friend Donnie (Michael Shannon), Sam is convinced to attend church by his wife and later decides to convert to Christianity.

Inspired to travel on a mission to Uganda as an aid worker, Childers meets with a SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army) solder Deng (Souleymane Sy Savane) who he persuades to escort him north to the Sudan. Despite the danger both men travel to a medical compound in the Sudan which is beset by the helpless populace who are either seeking medical help or refuge from the murderous LRA. After escorting a number of children back to their home they find the village razed to the ground with the adults killed. With the children now orphans Childers decides his mission in life is to build an orphanage and try and save as many children as possible.

Using local help and overseas aid Childers build an orphanage which is soon after burnt down by the LRA. Sam wants to abandon his orphanage plans but is convinced to persevere by Lynn who explains that the children have endured far worse than his disappointment.

After the orphanage is rebuilt the LRA again mount an offensive against Childers and his followers. In the ensuring fight and chase Childers makes a fateful decision to leave some children behind near a road because he has no means to get them back to the orphanage. Returning the next day to pick up the remaining orphans he finds that they have all been killed by the LRA and left in a ditch. At this turning point Childers decides that he will no longer abandon any children and will indeed take up the fight against the LRA by actively seeking them out if posing a danger, and rescuing any children they might be holding.

Based on a real story and events as portrayed in the memoir Another Man's War, Childers as portrayed in this film is more Rambo than Jesus where eye for eye replaces turn the other cheek in the parable stakes. Make no mistake this is a powerful film which makes you think how far you can push morality if the outcome is important enough. Director Mark Foster has done an admirable job of bringing the Childers story to life without glamorising the actions portrayed. Butler is more than adequate in the acting stakes, and the supporting cast, especially Monaghan, are convincing and effective. The violence is real and palpable. The children are numb with awful memories and despair. The flawed character of Childers is portrayed unflinchingly as both selfish and inspirational, as murderous yet saviour like. I imagine that how you view the actions of Childers in bringing the war home to the LRA might depend on whether you believe in pacifism or armed action. I think the kids in the middle might side with Childers.

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Transfer Quality

Video

As presented in the theatrical aspect of 2.35:1 Machine Gun Preacher has a dirty and dusty hue about it most of the time which undoubtedly was the director's intention. There is nothing glamorous about the African (or American for that matter) settings, so the grainy texture and sombre hues are appropriate. The outdoor African scenes filmed in South Africa showed nice separation of colours, muted though they may be. Skin tones were a little ruddy and clay-like at times but there was no sign of significant compression artefacts. This is a good transfer without being outstanding with no significant problems.

This is a dual layer disc but I could not see the layer change using my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The disc comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kp/s included as default and a Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224 Kp/s. There is also a descriptive audio Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224 Kp/s track for the vision impaired.

The 5.1 track is nicely designed with lots of ambient noises - especially in the African scenes. There are grinding four wheel drive tyres, clattering rocks, animal sounds, chattering children and the like, which immerses you into the soundscape. When the action happens it bursts out from all corners with depth and punch. The only criticism is that some of the dialogue is hard to hear - especially from some of the softly spoken Africans. The score by Asche and Spencer is excellent. Actually in retrospect much of the African scenes reminded me very much of the video game Far Cry 2, which has a very similar sound design and overall feel.

This audio track is very good.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

The menu featured looping audio with scrolled pictorial background.

Trailers - (3:07)

Running before the main menu selection:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

This DVD appears to be identical to the US version apart from extras, language and subtitle options. The Region 1 DVD includes two bonus features: "Making the Music for Machine Gun Preacher" (about composer Thad Spencer's score), and the film's theatrical trailer. Blu-ray versions include extras " A Discussion with Marc Forster", "Making the Music for Machine Gun Preacher" and "The Keeper Music Video by Chris Cornell".

Summary

The Sam Childers' story is fascinating and possibly unique. That a man can transform from a drug-using, alcoholic outlaw biker to a crusading preacher who fights for defenceless children in a far-away land is almost too unbelievable to be true. The screenplay and direction leave no doubt as to who the heroes and villains are without offering any real insight into the history of either parties in the war-torn Sudan. Although the religious themes may deter some people, the thread of human decency and willingness for self-sacrifice for the benefit of the defenceless is uplifting. Without doubt the violence is graphic and at times the revenge themes are unsettling, however we can't pass moral judgement on Sam Childers without walking in the "machine gun preacher's" shoes.

The video quality is good.

The audio quality is very good.

Extras are poor.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mike B (read my bio)
Saturday, August 04, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910 and Panasonic BD-35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-58PZ850A. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Amplificationdenon AVR-4311 pre-out to Elektra Theatron 7 channel amp
SpeakersB&W LCR600 centre and 603s3 mains, Niles in ceiling surrounds, SVS PC-Ultra Sub, Definitive Technology Supercube II Sub

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