American Sniper (Blu-ray) (2014)
Featurette-Making Of-Making of American Sniper
Featurette-One Soldiers Story
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Ads Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Clint Eastwood|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
American Sniper is a disturbing film experience on a number of levels. The Clint Eastwood directed film, which was heavily nominated for Oscars earlier this year, earned over half a billion at the box office. The secret for its financial success might well lie in the patriotic angle of the film. Not only is the word "American" in the title but the poster of the film features a prominent US flag blowing in the wind. Therefore, fair warning, those expecting a complex and multi-layered analysis of the wrongs and rights of the Iraq war should move along. Those looking for a tense war drama with black-and-white enemies and heroes will love Eastwood's vision.
The film was based on the memoirs of deadly sniper Chris Kyle. The book is an account of Kyle's upbringing in Texas and his journey to become a Navy SEAL and fight for his country in Iraq. Kyle is credited as being the deadliest sniper in US history with over 160 confirmed kills. Those unacquainted with Kyles story post-war will be shocked at the terrible irony.
The film is complicated and disturbing, as said, for a number of reasons. The book was a strange and terrible read. The Chris Kyle of the book made no bones about the fact that he hated the Iraqis one and all. He also loved the experience of fighting for his country and killing the enemy. He was almost completely unconcerned about the people he had killed suggesting that they were already dead when they decided to threaten American soldiers. The Chris Kyle of the book is, to be honest, a hot-headed redneck who likes bar fights and bold statements. Much of the book is obsessed with the common rivalry between him and his fellow soldiers including the sometimes violent hazing of new recruits.
The film doesn't really concentrate on that aspect of Kyle's life. Instead it looks at the contrast between his coolness and lethal success in battle and the difficulty he has maintaining a normal family life when he comes home from his tours. The film also takes numerous liberties with the narrative to try to improve the story arc. Therefore a lot of the narrative drive comes from an unofficial challenge between the snipers for the opposing sides. The deadly insurgent sniper Mustapha is mentioned only briefly in the book and there was never an active rivalry between the two men. Further, the opening scene of the film, shown in the trailer, of Kyle training his rifle on a mother and child happened in a different way in the book. Finally, the character of the Butcher has been invented to give drama to the film.
As said, this just raises questions for those who would want the film to be accurate to the life of Chris Kyle. Moral complexities aside there is no doubt that this is a riveting film well directed by the elderly Clint Eastwood. Bradley Cooper puts in arguably his best performance to date as the soldier dedicated to his men and finding it increasingly difficult to adapt to home life with his wife Taya (Sienna Miller). The remainder of the cast are mainly background to these performances.
If this review sounds unduly disparaging - it shouldn't. This is an excellent film. However reading the book well before the film came out was slightly scary. It raised the eternal question of our warriors and their humanity. At times Chris Kyle emerged from the book as a mere killing machine devoted to God, country and corps in that order. At the same time who do we want on the ground in wartime situations-those who can and do kill without compunction or those who would agonize about the moral choices?
American Sniper was shot on high-definition digital video and screened at the cinema in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for the Blu-ray release.
This is a quality presentation of a good-looking film. To be truthful, much of the film is shot in battle with soldiers in camouflage fatigues fighting in drab environments. Nevertheless the colours are accurate and the image quality is extremely sharp.
The flesh tones are true to life.
There is no evidence of digital noise despite the fact that one of the key battles occurs during a sandstorm. At no time did I see the quality of the picture diminish.
There are Subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired.
American Sniper won its only Oscar, of six nominations, for Sound Editing. That is no surprise. This is a film which makes full use of the sonic palette and is ideal for testing out your surround sound system. Bullets whizzed by, tanks rumbled and explosions shook the room.
The Blu-ray comes with a Dolby digital True HD 7.1 surround track. A reader has pointed out that the disc is actually an Atmos 7.1 (down mixed to standard 7.1 for those without it) track for those with the equipment to enjoy it. It would be great to hear how that sounds.The last film that I can recall having such an expansive use of the surrounds for enhancing battle scenes was Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima.
In a slight caveat the dialogue was at times low in the mix causing me to turn up the sound only to jump out of my seat when a fire fight started.
There is also a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack providing a descriptive narration for the vision impaired.
|Surround Channel Use|
This fairly lengthy feature contains interviews with all the key production people and performers in the movie. The scriptwriter, Jason Hall, explains his feelings when suddenly a curveball was thrown in the production process forcing a change in the way that the film would be made. There are interviews with Taya Kyle. Interestingly there are more than a few places in which comments are made that the book does not reflect the totality of Chris Kyle and his wife provided more insight into their humanity and the suffering of Chris in order to flesh out the character.
Another fairly lengthy background to the movie. It is strange that there would be essentially two roughly 30 minute documentaries detailing the story behind the film and some of the production aspects. Whilst there is some overlap in interview material this is worth watching giving a guide to the filming process. Part of the feature includes a Q&A session with the cast, production team, director and Taya Kyle.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This is the same as the US Region A version. Buy local.
American Sniper gained almost universal admiration from the critics and earned big money at the box office, though it did spark debate about whether it was a film about a man who killed for his country and thereby saved lives or someone who loved to kill and found, in the land of people he considered savages, fertile hunting grounds.
To its credit the Eastwood film allows greater depth to the story and greater insight into the challenges of being a professional soldier in wartime.
|DVD||Cambridge Audio 752BD All Region Blu-ray, using HDMI output|
|Display||JVC DLX 700 with 4K e-shift on 140" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC -LX 78K 9.2 Channel|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|