Zero Dark Thirty (Blu-ray) (2012)

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Released 10-Jul-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Geared Up
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Compound
Interviews-Cast-Targeting Jessica Chastain
Featurette-Making Of-No Small Feat
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 157:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kathryn Bigelow

Icon Entertainment
Starring Jessica Chastain
Jason Clarke
Joel Edgerton
Jennifer Ehle
Mark Strong
Kyle Chandler
Édgar Ramírez
James Gandolfini
Chris Pratt
Callan Mulvey
Fares Fares
Reda Kateb
John Barrowman
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Alexandre Desplat

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis


This is a review of the Blu-ray of Zero Dark Thirty. A review of the DVD which contains a description of the plot elements can be found here.

Zero Dark Thirty is a film whose proper assessment, perhaps, lies some distance in the future. Premiered at late in 2012 it was hailed as an immediate, unimpeachable masterpiece. As time passed the reputation of the film and its director Kathryn Bigelow has been chipped away at by those who see its moral standards as unacceptable.

The bone of contention is the films graphic torture scenes (by serious drama standards anyway) but more so by the simple question of whether those scenes suggest that the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques eventually brought about the location and dispatch of the world's number one most wanted man- Osama bin Laden.

In fact, there is such a moral soup involved in this question that those on either side of the debate will never see eye to eye. Since the release of the film there have been questions raised as to whether Bigelow obtained unreasonable access to military information and, if so, whether that access came tied with a requirement to portray the war against terror in the most glowing terms.

If so, the attempt failed. Zero Dark Thirty is an often depressing but always thrilling procedural film about the process and the impossibility of gathering information in a world where the free flow of information seems to be unstoppable. Is the head of Al Qaeda located through the use of water boarding, humiliation and sensory deprivation? If so, it took its sweet time coming.

When information first came to light about a mysterious courier who is used to communicate messages from Bin Laden to his operatives it was a track that ended in a number of dead ends. Zero Dark Thirty is a film about the relentless struggle to achieve an objective and the ultimate question of whether it was worth it.

There are two sides and two stories to be told. One is the hunt that lasted for 10 years to find the perpetrator of the World Trade Centre bombings. The other is the carefully planned mission into Pakistan to capture or kill the man. What distinguishes this film from so many other true stories is that as courageous as these people are in going about their jobs often meeting significant setbacks they are ultimately doing their jobs.

The CIA operatives may be a touch fanatical, particularly the character of Maya played by Jessica Chastain, but they are ultimately just doing what they are paid to do. Maya faces an uphill battle convincing the top brass that the compound holds Bin Laden but they are not acting to put her in her place but just to do what is right. Similarly the Seal Team Six soldiers who stormed the compound are calm , considered and professional in their approach.

In short, if this film represents US propaganda then the state of the nation is sober.

What has been lost in some of the recent debate is the fact that this is a superbly crafted motion picture directed by a woman with a supreme command of the visual art working with a tight and efficient script and a cast of actors who apply themselves fearlessly to their roles.For my money perhaps not the most entertaining film of the year, Oscar winner Argo was high on that list, but one of the best constructed, thrilling pieces of cinema of the last several years.

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Transfer Quality



Zero Dark Thirty was shot on high-definition digital video by cinematographer Greig Fraser using the Arri Alexa Plus camera. It comes to Blu-ray in the cinematic aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

This is a splendid looking film from beginning to end. The picture is amazingly sharp. The fine details including the faces and uniforms of the agents and soldiers come out in this lovely transfer. The colours are accurate and well defined.

Despite the common instance of sand and dust pervading the scenes there are no problems with compression. Digital noise is also not an issue even in the night scenes towards the end of the film during the raid on the compound. Special mention must be made of those scenes which present a very documentary like feeling to the film. Once again the raw but clear nature of the shooting makes this a very immediate film.

There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts



Zero Dark Thirty carries a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track and inexplicably a True-HD track as well.

In keeping with the standard set by the video transfer both are excellent tracks. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat expertly conveyed and matches the quality of the filmmaking.

The surrounds are well used throughout give ambience to the film. The sub woofer doesn't come in that often that carries the bass well when it does.

There are no technical defects with the sound.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


The Blu-ray, as with the DVD, comes with only limited extras. These are as below and a description can be found in the review by John:

R4 vs R1

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

   The overseas versions are the same. Buy local.


  Zero Dark Thirty is, to be sure, a controversial film that has divided viewers on political lines and raised the age old debate question - does the end justify the means? It is also stunning entertainment.

The Blu-ray is of excellent quality in sound and vision terms and the extras are perhaps understandably brief.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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