Ardennes Fury (2014)

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Released 22-Apr-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Trailer-Aeroplane vs. Volcano, Apocalypse Pompeii
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 83:40 (Case: 88)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Joseph J. Lawson
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Tom Stedham
Lauren Vera
Tino Struckmann
Lawrence C. Gamell Jr.
Bill Voorhees
Yaron Urbas
Analiese Anderson


Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Chris Ridenhour


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     After a battle late in WW2 an American tank crew led by Sergeant Dawson (Tom Stedham) are stranded and out of petrol behind German lines. They need to get moving in a hurry because the area they are trapped in will shortly be heavily bombed and attacked as part of Operation Ardennes Fury. Searching for a supply of petrol they stumble upon Sister Claudette (Lauren Vera) who tells Dawson that there are children nearby in an orphanage, right in the path of the attack. Dawson reluctantly agrees to try to get them out and he, Sergeant Rose (Lawrence C. Gamell Jr.), C.K. (Bill Voorhees) and Griff (Yaron Urbas) accompany Claudette and fight their way through territory swarming with German soldiers. But when they arrive at the site of the orphanage they find two children and Sister Mary (Analiese Anderson). It becomes clear that Claudette has not told Dawson the whole truth and, even worse, fanatical SS Major Zellor (Tino Struckmann) is hot on their heels. With the clock ticking can Dawson avoid the Germans and extricate his men and the civilians before the bombs start falling.

     Ardennes Fury is a low budget, straight to video film by director Joseph J. Lawson, only his second feature although he has 85 credits listed on the IMDb as a visual effects supervisor. The film has generally coped a critical pasting, critics pointing to the very dodgy CGI, the fact that the German tanks seen are really Soviet T34s, and the fact that the Ardennes battle in WW2 took place in the middle of winter with snow on the ground in heavily wooded terrain, whereas Ardennes Fury takes place in grasslands in what looks like full summer! I should say in the film’s defence that although it is called Ardennes Fury this is the name of the pending operation and the film never says it is set in the Ardennes! On the other hand, the cheap looking CGI is very much in evidence and the aircraft and explosions look especially fake.

     But is Ardennes Fury all that bad? No, it’s not; in fact it is quite fast moving and entertaining. After the black and white credits, using archival WW2 footage, Ardennes Fury throws us straight into the middle of a chaotic infantry / tank battle featuring explosions, cannon fire, burning tanks, dodgy CGI and very jerky hand held camera-work and it seldom lets up from there as the Americans travel across the countryside and are constantly being ambushed, or ambushing, German soldiers. As noted, much of the action is shot hand held as has become the norm since Saving Private Ryan (1998), and although Ardennes Fury does not have the expertise, or a fraction of the budget of that film, it is not too bad. Ardennes Fury is also quite bloody and brutal in some of these sequences although the “MA” given the film in this country I think is more because of some quite graphic torture scenes conducted by the brutal Major Zeller. Indeed, unlike some more recent war films which have depicted both sides of the conflict as capable of brutality, Ardennes Fury is firmly of the old fashioned type where the Nazis are all brutal thugs and the Americans humane and decent.

     Ardennes Fury certainly trots out about every WW2 film cliché in its depiction of upright Americans and brutal Nazis but the film looks very good and the action is non-stop, so just go along for the ride and ignore the cheap CGI. Two things that become clear from the film are first, never trust a Nazi officer, and second, never take women or kids along on patrol. Both only lead to grief.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Ardennes Fury is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. The DVD box gives the ratio as 1.85:1, but this is not correct.

     This is a very good looking print. Detail is excellent, showing every whisker and dirt mark on the soldiers’ faces while colours are deep and glossy, which if nothing else highlighted the cheap and dodgy CGI effects. Some of the scenes also showed a slight silvery sheen. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, brightness and contrast consistent, skin tones natural.

     Other than slight ghosting with movement against mottled surfaces such as the trees, artefacts and marks are absent.

    There are no subtitles offered.

    The layer change at 36:34 created a pause in the middle of a scene.

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

Audio

     Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at a low 192 Kbps.

     Despite this low Kbps, the audio was quite good. Separation was not as crisp as it could be but the audio was loud and enveloping, especially in the action sequences where gunshots, cannon fire, explosions, engines and tank tracks fill the sound stage. Dialogue in the midst of the action was sometimes unclear, but I doubt if anything important was lost. Elsewhere dialogue was fine. The subwoofer added depth to engines, cannon fire and explosions.

     The music score by Chris Ridenhour did what was required without being anything special.

     Lip synchronisation fine.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for Aeroplane vs. Volcano (1:23) and Apocalypse Pompeii (1:08) play on start-up. They can also be selected from the menu.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region A Blu-ray of Ardennes Fury is a special edition which includes as extras:

    As is becoming more frequent, I cannot find any reviews or information about the Region 1 US DVD release. If it includes any of the about extras it would be the best version.

Summary

     Ardennes Fury is a quick, low budget attempt to cash in on Fury that is actually not too bad. It trots out about every WW2 film cliché but the film looks very good and the action is non-stop. Ignore the cheap CGI and go along for the ride and you will have an entertaining 80 minutes.

     The video and audio are fine. A couple of trailers for other films are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, June 04, 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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