Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks (Blu-ray) (2014)

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Released 11-Mar-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Trailer-x 3 for other Eagle releases
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 95:26
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ryan Little
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Adam Gregory
K. Danor Gerald
Michael Behrens
Joel Bishop
Timothy S Shoemaker
Brenden Whitney
Ben Urie


Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music James Schafer


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Early May 1945. Hitler is dead, the Russians have captured Berlin and the armies of the western allies have pushed deep into German territory although some bypassed remnants of the Nazi forces fight on. In the Harz Mountains of Central Germany two American M18 Tank Destroyers commanded by Sergeants Whittaker (Joel Bishop) and Atwood (Timothy S Shoemaker), with crew members including Mitchell (Michael Behrens), Nelson (Brenden Whitney) and Simms (Adam Gregory), are sent to help winkle some German soldiers out of a village. On the way they come across a convoy of American trucks that have been ambushed by German troops and a Panzer. The only survivors are British Lieutenant Goss (Ben Urie), who has only recently been rescued from a POW camp, and African-American driver Sergeant Jessie Owens (K. Danor Gerald). As more trucks are due to be coming down the road Whittaker and Atwood decide to destroy the Panzer, but they themselves are surprised by two additional German tanks. In a bloody struggle, as casualties mount desperate measures are needed for any of the soldiers to survive the battle of the tanks.

     Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks (also known as Saints and Soldiers: The Void or Saints and Soldiers 3) is, as this suggests, the third film in a series directed and photographed by Ryan Little after Saints and Soldiers (2003) and Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed (2012), although for this instalment Little adds writing duties as well. Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks breaks no new ground and as a low budget film cannot replicate the ferocity of combat that has become expected in war films after Saving Private Ryan (1998). It makes up for the lack of money however by portraying small unit combat using basically a couple of locations and by utilising genuine WW2 trucks, jeeps and armoured fighting vehicles including M18 Hellcat Tank Destroyers and a German Panzer III. The weapons, equipment and tactics also look and feel authentic and the scenes inside the M18 feel suitability grubby and claustrophobic. The action may feel a little old fashioned as there are no limbs severed or excessive blood spurts, but it is still loud, explosive and well-staged.

     The acting and dialogue in Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks is somewhat wooden, but the film does at least attempt to shine a light on African-America soldiers who were expected to fight and die for their country but who faced segregation and victimisation at home, although the issue is clumsily handled, especially the British character of Goss who seems to be in the film only to make the contrast between English and American attitudes to Negroes. The US army of the time was also segregated and the film shows the racist Corporal Simms refusing to take orders from Sergeant Owens or to accept a drink from him, but this being a basically patriotic and positive look at men in combat by the end of the film Simms has come to appreciate Owen’s qualities as a leader and a man.

     Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks packs a surprisingly good punch for its budget. The small scale battles are tense and exciting, it looks authentic and the use of real WW2 armoured vehicles is a definite plus for war fans.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Although the IMDb does not give the original ratio, based on a trailer I have seen and the framing of the film I suspect that the original ratio was 1.85:1. It is in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a good looking print. Detail is crisp, showing off the dirt, oil stains and whiskers on the soldiers’ faces. Colours have been manipulated to give a silvery, muted look although the reds and yellows of the explosions, tracers and muzzle flashes are bright. Skin tones also have a light, silvery look but blacks are solid, shadow detail fine and brightness and contrast consistent.

     There is some ghosting with movement against foliage and stone walls but marks are absent.

     There are no subtitles although white English subtitles come on automatically to translate some sections of German dialogue.

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

Audio

     Audio is a very good enveloping English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.

     Dialogue was always clear and easy to hear. The surrounds and rears are frequently in use of weather effects, such as rain and thunder, as well as music. They were also well utilised for armoured vehicle engines, gunshots, ricochets and explosions and there were a number of directional effects for passing vehicles and as bullets and tracer flash past. The subwoofer gave appropriate support, adding bass to engines, explosions and cannon fire.

     The orchestral score by James Schafer was martial and melancholy with more than a hint of John William’s score for Saving Private Ryan, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

     There were no lip synchronisation issues.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for A Good Marriage (1:51), An Invisible Sign (2:38) and The Trials of Cate McCall (1:52) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

    These are the only extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    While there are DVD releases of Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks in the US and UK, the only Blu-ray listed on Amazon.com is a UK Saints and Soldiers three disc set.

Summary

     Saints and Soldiers: The Battle of the Tanks may not offer anything different and the action is not up to the bar set by Saving Private Ryan but it is still an entertaining and surprisingly effective study of small unit armoured combat that has something to say about racism, builds a good tension and uses authentic WW2 vehicles to great effect.

     The video and audio are very good. A few trailers for other films are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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