American Sniper (2014)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Due Out for Sale 27-May-2015

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Drama Featurette-One Soldiers Story
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 127:14
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Clint Eastwood
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Bradley Cooper
Sienna Miller




Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     American Sniper, directed by Clint Eastwood, is the story of the decorated Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) during four tours of duty in Iraq where he was credited with over 160 kills. The Blu-ray of American Sniper has already been reviewed on this site by Trevor, and his review can be read here. Unlike Trevor I had not read Kyle’s book upon which the film is largely based so I came to the character of Chris Kyle only through Eastwood’s film.

     American Sniper is firstly a film about men in battle and the sequences of ambushes, firefights, snipers on rooftops and house to house clearances in battered and ruined cityscapes are loud, chaotic, intense and well-staged. Eastwood is an economical and somewhat traditional director who does not rely on jerky hand held cameras to obscure the action; instead he uses clear shots and quick cuts which allows us into the conflict and to see, and understand, what is happening, even during the climactic fight in a sandstorm! Indeed, throughout the numerous action sequences there is really only one “cinematic” shot in slow motion where Kyle takes out the opposing sniper Mustafa (Sammy Sheik).

     But as Eastwood showed with the dual films about the Iwo Jima campaign in WW2 (Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima) he is also interested in the impact of combat upon the men who fight. American Sniper takes this interest a step further, for it looks not only at the changes to Kyle’s personality over the course of the four tours but also the effects of the tours upon his relationship with his wife Taya (Sienna Miller) and his two children. After four tours Kyle did decide that enough was enough and the real tragedy is that just as he seemed to be coming to grips with a post-combat life he was killed by another veteran he was trying to help. This gives a very real poignancy to the end of the film.

     Certainly in American Sniper the question of why Americans (and others) were fighting and dying in Iraq is not considered; only once is any disquiet about the morality of the conflict obliquely raised by the character Marc (Luke Grimes). Kyle certainly only thinks about why he is there in terms of doing his duty and protecting Americans and in the end his only regret is not the Iraqis killed but the fact that he was unable to save more American soldiers. Yet in its own terms American Sniper is a powerful and moving film which succeeds in showing what it means to fight for your country, and what is lost when you do so.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     American Sniper is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the original theatrical ratio being 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very good print. Close-ups are crisp and detailed even in the midst of action and the widescreen scenes of ruined townscapes are equally detailed. Filmed in Morocco, the colour palate is mostly dun coloured desert browns and yellows, with muted skies and dust covered palms. Costumes and uniforms are also drab, as might be expected. The colours back in America are brighter, but are still natural. Blacks in the night time action sequences are solid, shadow detail excellent. Skin tones are natural, contrast and brightness is consistent.

     There was slight ghosting against broken surfaces both otherwise artefacts and marks were absent.

    English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available in a white font.

     The layer chance at 74:32 resulted in a slight pause at the end 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 at the unusual 384 Kbps and there is an English descriptive audio using a female voice with the same specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384 Kbps. American Sniper was nominated for six Oscars but won only for best sound design and this comes across on the DVD.

     Most of the dialogue was clear although sometimes in vehicles and in action sequences it was muffled. The sound stage was very active and enveloping; the rears and surrounds are used constantly for voices, vehicle and helicopter engines, gunshots up close and in the distance, explosions and the impact of bullet hits. The subwoofer gave realistic and appropriate support to the rumble of tank tracks and engines, explosions and general noise.

    Lip synchronisation is fine.

    American Sniper uses almost no music and even most of the end titles roll to a silent screen; Eastwood, Van Morrison and Ennio Morricone provide a few themes.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for Focus (2:22), A Most Violent Year (2:14) and Run All Night (2:25) play on start-up. They cannot be selected from the menu.

One Soldier’s Story: The Journey of American Sniper (29:47)

     This is a very good making of featurette, one of the best I have seen for a while. Concise, but informative, it features a voiceover narration by Philip Terrence, on set footage and interviews with producers Andrew Lazar, Peter Morgan, screenwriter Jason Hall, director Clint Eastwood, cast Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kevin Lacz, Chris Kyle’s widow Taya Kyle and military advisor James D. Dever to cover the inception of the project, meeting Chris Kyle, casting, the changes to the project because of the murder of Chris and the decisions made by Taya Kyle, location shooting in Morocco, training and realism and Eastwood as director.

R4 vs R1

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

     Our Australian Region B Blu-ray contains the same two extras as the US Region A Blu-ray, the Making of American Sniper and One Soldier’s Story. Reviewers have noted that there is a fair bit of overlapping between the two. This Region 4 DVD contains One Soldier’s Story; as far as I can see the US Region 1 DVD is a two disc set with the two extras on a second disc. I really don’t think it worthwhile importing, but each to their own.

Summary

     American Sniper is neither pro or anti-war and it certainly never questions the rights and wrongs of the war in Iraq. Instead it is a powerful and moving film about one elite soldier’s journey, the impact of combat upon soldiers and the greater, and more long lasting, effect upon their families and their relationships. The action sequences are well staged, managing to show the chaotic and brutal nature of street fighting in the ruined and dangerous cities of Iraq.

     The video and audio are both excellent, the extra is genuine and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, June 09, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE