The Hurt Locker (2008)

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Released 22-Jun-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 125:24 (Case: 131)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kathryn Bigelow
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jeremy Renner
Anthony Mackie
Brian Geraghty
Guy Pearce
Ralph Fiennes
David Morse
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Marco Beltrami
Buck Sanders


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     The Oscars are certainly controversial every year and 2010 was no exception with this small, independent project, The Hurt Locker, winning Best Picture and 5 other awards in a field which included blockbusters like Avatar and great films like Up and District 9. So, is The Hurt Locker a great film? In my opinion, no, it is a very good film but not a great one. I am not going to try to explain why I think this film won Best Picture, it just did. Regardless, it is a very worthy film which takes a look at war from a different angle than usual, from the perspective of a man who is addicted to the adrenaline buzz it gives him.

     The story involves an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) team in post-war Iraq, consisting of three men whose job it is to deal with bombs set by terrorists. Their day-to-day existence is chronicled in a very documentary style way, focusing on their various missions during their rotation in Iraq. The team is made up of Sgt Will James (Jeremy Renner), the new team leader, Sgt J.T. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Specialist Owen Eldridge (Brian Geraghty). Sgt James arrives to replace their previous team leader Sgt Thompson (Guy Pearce) and immediately alienates the rest of the team due to his gung-ho and somewhat reckless approach to bomb disposal. The movie follows the team as they face new and different dangers on each mission to dispose of some sort of Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

     This is a very tense and atmospheric film which focuses your attention as you feel you are part of the action, going on the missions with the team. The visuals are impressively done considering the low budget, 16mm film and desert conditions. There are many arresting images such as the details during the first explosion. The music and sound design are also excellent, drawing you into the film and providing a sensory experience which adds to the feeling that you are part of the action. Some will not like the fast moving hand held camerawork in some scenes, however I feel it suits the style of film well. It was shot in Jordon which is obviously quite similar to Iraq being a close neighbour. The acting by the three main characters is very strong with Renner nominated for Best Actor. The cast only includes three ‘name’ actors all in small cameos, Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes. Dexter fans will also notice Christian Camargo who played the bad guy in Series 1. The film is also well known for being the first film directed by a woman to win Best Director for Kathryn Bigelow. She certainly does an excellent job on this film.

     The film was written by journalist Mark Boal who was embedded with a bomb disposal team in Iraq and decided to turn his experiences into this movie. The authenticity that this brings to the locations, characters and situations is obvious.

     My main criticism of this film would be that, to my mind, it fails to develop an impressive narrative to go along with the tension and atmosphere and that the characters do not really develop much during the movie. It is certainly well made and full of atmosphere but I was hoping for more story.

     This film is also available on Blu-ray which has been reviewed here.

     So, an impressive film in terms of its ability to take you inside a war zone but not quite a truly great film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The video quality is excellent, taking into account the nature of the source. The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

     The picture was very clear and sharp especially considering that the source was 16mm mostly. As you would expect with a 16mm source there was some film grain but it was never intrusive. There were a few minor MPEG artefacts. Shadow detail was decent but nothing special probably due to the naturalistic lighting scheme. The colour was well rendered but this film is stark and washed out befitting the desert locations.

     There were no other noticeable artefacts.

     There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which were easy to read and kept close to the spoken word.

     The layer change occurred at 63:53 and caused a significant pause.

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

Audio

     The audio quality is very good. This DVD contains four audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s plus an Audio Descriptive track and a commentary track with the same specifications as the stereo track.

     Dialogue was generally quite clear and easy to understand although some lines of dialogue were hard to understand. The subtitles were useful.

     The music by Marco Beltrami & Buck Sanders (along with songs by Ministry) is a significant contributor to the atmosphere and tension of the film. It was deservedly Oscar nominated.

    The surround speakers added a good combination of surround effects such as planes, helicopters and explosions along with more subtle atmospherics. The subwoofer was well used for music and adding bass to explosions, gunfire and helicopters.

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

Extras

    A small selection of extras.

Menu

     The menu included an introduction, scenes from the movie and music.

Commentary – Director/Producer Kathryn Bigelow & Writer/Producer Mark Boal

    A quality commentary which covers a wide variety of topics around the making of the film and the situation faced by these EOD teams in Iraq. The film’s genesis, shooting difficulties, locations, casting and trying to show reality rather than a Hollywood version of the war are covered. Very interesting and seemingly missing from the local Blu-ray.

The Hurt Locker – Behind the Scenes (12:00)

    A very generic making of featurette including talking head interviews with cast and crew plus copious scenes from the film. Direction, cinematography and characters are covered. Nothing special.

Theatrical Trailer (2:26)

     Quality Trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release of this movie includes the follow extra items

    The Region 4 release has the following in addition to the Region 1 version

    On this basis, the Region 1 seems to be the better choice in SD.

Summary

    A high quality film but not quite a great one.

    The video quality is excellent. The audio quality is very good.

    A small selection of extras is included.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, July 30, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BDP-S760 Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into BD player. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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