Fallen Soldiers (2015)

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Released 22-Sep-2015

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Audio Commentary
Featurette-Making Of-(16:52)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 81:15 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bill Thomas
Studio
Distributor
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Matt Neal
Eve Pearson
”Baby” John Lee Pellett
Zachary Street
Jason Marchant
Harry Harrold


Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI ? Music Carl Harms


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     1815; Napoleon has escaped from Elba and is regathering his army. In Belgium a coach carrying Celine (Eve Pearson) and her husband behind the French lines is held up by a dishevelled and injured man, John Cross (Matt Neal). He is English but needs the coach to enable him to get quickly through the French lines to the British army. To gain Celine’s help he tells her a very strange story about how he came to be injured and behind French lines.

     Cross had won a medal for bravery at the Battle of Salamanca in Spain but, wounded and war weary, he had later been assigned to a military hospital in Belgium. There his superior office had sent him and another man, Hardy, (”Baby” John Lee Pellett) behind French lines to investigate a mysterious plague which was prevalent in the area. The two are, however, captured by the French and thrown into a prison wagon where Cross’ friend Piper (Zachary Street) is already in chains. Shortly after, a diseased woman is thrown into the wagon and she attacks them, biting Hardy. But then the French camp is bombarded and the three soldiers manage to escape chained together; but Hardy turns violent and attacks them, biting Piper and he will not stay down when shot and apparently killed. Cross and Piper are then again captured by the French and they learn the horrifying truth: in a ruined mill a Priest (Jason Marchant) is creating an army of invincible zombie soldiers from the dead of Napoleon’s Old Guard and is about to unleash them onto the battlefield. To escape Cross must make a deadly pact with a British sea captain he finds chained within the mill’s dungeons (Harry Harrold); but will Celine actually believe Cross’ story and what is the real secret behind the zombie soldiers?

     Fallen Soldiers is a very low budget film from director Bill Thomas that was shot in only 12 days. This was his first feature film although he has directed shorts, documentaries and TV; he also has experience in major productions in props and visual effects and this shows. The costumes and props of Fallen Soldiers look like they belong in a much more expensive production and the film makes a virtue of its minuscule budget by filming in tiny locations, such as a carriage or a cell, with only a couple of actors. When the film ventures outdoors, such as the scenes of battle in flashback, these are done with jerky camera work, explosions and only a few actors on screen; the result is loud, chaotic and pretty effective.

     The film was pitched as Sharpe meets Zombies which is an interesting concept as period zombie films are pretty rate (it will be interesting to see how the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies makes out on a far, far larger budget). Fallen Soldiers may not quite be the horror film the DVD cover suggests although it is bloody and gory in places. The script has a lot of holes and really does not stand up to scrutiny, but the acting of Matt Neal, Eve Pearson and ”Baby” John Lee Pellett is good and the film does create some nice tension. And, at just over 80 minutes, it flies along.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Fallen Soldiers is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a low budget film shot with digital cameras on a 12 day shoot. However, it generally looks pretty good. Details and colours during the main scenes are good, if glossy, with nice greens. The flashback scenes, and flashbacks within flashbacks, vary considerably. In some the colours are desaturated, giving a monochrome brownish look, others look over bright. The jerky camera work during the action can feel somewhat sickening. Brightness and contrast do vary in the same scene when there are different angles, however close-ups in the coach are good. Blacks are solid and shadow detail fine.

     I noticed no artefacts.

    There are no subtitles, although small white subtitles automatically translated sections of French.

     Note: The DVD cover gives the film’s running time as 98 minutes. The actual running time is just over 82 minutes (PAL) which was the film’s uncut original running time listed on the IMDb.

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

Audio

     Audio is a choice of English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps or English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kbps. There is also an English commentary track, Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kbps.

     I listened to the 5.1. This was not a particularly enveloping audio. Although dialogue was generally fine and understandable I noticed little in the surrounds or rears other than some music and thumps during the action. Similarly the subwoofer added a little bass to the canon fire and explosions.

     The music by Carl Harms was neither memorable nor distracting.

     Lip synchronisation seemed fine.

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

Extras

     The DVD cover only mentions the audio commentary but there is a decent making of included on the disc.

Making of Documentary (16:52)

     Quite an interesting insight into the film with B-roll footage, stills, film footage and interviews with Bill Thomas (director), Jason Emery (producer), Ian Thomas (writer), Robin Gould (fight arranger), Kiera Thomas (1st AD) and cast Matt Neal and Zachary Street. They discuss the budget (often), costumes, scripting, cast, make-up and the challengers of the 12 day shoot.

Directors Commentary

     Actually a cast and crew commentary with the same people, Bill Thomas, Jason Emery, Ian Thomas, Robin Gould, Kiera Thomas, Matt Neal and Zachary Street sitting together to watch the film. This is a light-hearted commentary and they obviously had fun making the film together. They talk about the constraints a low budget placed on the filming, locations, pick-ups, ADR due to aircraft and motorbikes at the location, effects and errors such as booms in shot and people in the background. Sometimes it is hard to know who is talking but it is an interesting commentary

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 2 UK release of Fallen Soldiers has the same extras but does add English subtitles, if this is important. Otherwise a draw. There is no Region 1 US version listed.

Summary

     Fallen Soldiers is a very low budget film but it has an unusual concept, is well acted and looks like a far more expensive production. Certainly an interesting and different period film and well worth a look if the concept sounds of interest.

     The DVD has acceptable video and audio. The extras are worthwhile and good for such an independent, low budget film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Tuesday, December 15, 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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