Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 27-Jul-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Eagle Entertainment trailers x 6, but none for this film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 95:35
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Curt A. Sindelar
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Christopher Serrone
Michael Conner Humphreys
Philip De Lorenzo
Jon Ashley Hall
Daniel Limb
Billy Reynolds
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Chris Hurn
Philip Delorenzo
Lolli Turner & Steve Averill


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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

     Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers is “based upon the untold true story”: on the night before D-Day, a group of American pathfinders dropped into Normandy to mark the drop zones with beacons and lights for the paratroops who would spearhead the invasion of Nazi occupied France. As the story has it, the Pathfinders were a scratch team assembled from volunteers from different airborne units in the last weeks before D-Day. Their drop zone in Normandy turned out to be in the middle of a German infantry regiment, and they had only 30 minutes to set up the beacons that would guide the invasion’s paratroopers. The point is made that if they fail, the paradrops fail, so the invasion fails. One wonders if the fate of the invasion, and the war, would really rest on such a slender thread.

     Pathfinders is not a good film. The dialogue and acting are strictly B-feature and the lack of a budget is always apparent. There are no wide establishing shots of the camp, the airfield, or the French countryside: we get to see one tent and one DC-3 on an open field. There are also numerous characters, who are mostly indistinguishable from each other and who mostly sit around talking while the romantic subplot between Captain McRoberts (Christopher Serrone) and an English girl is poorly written and intrusive. Of the pathfinders, the few who do stand out include Lieutenant Weaver (Ryan Findley), Livingstone (Michael Conner Humphreys) and Pfc. Rigs (Billy Reynolds).

     Once the group parachute into France, the film does build some interest. In the dark, with scattered paratroopers in small groups wandering around bumping into Germans, the low budget restrictions can be more easily hidden – the darkness covers the lack of depth and detail and all you need is a few weapons and a few actors, no more than 5 or 6 in any scene. You can also get away with limited equipment – one open car, a motorcycle and a few soldiers in grey represent the German defenders. In these sequences the film does capture the chaotic nature of hedgerow fighting in the dark, with fire and sounds coming from everywhere, and it builds a tension as the soldiers try to set up the beacons in time to guide the incoming aircraft. Yet even here the pacing and editing is uneven, with some shots held for a long time, seemingly at random.

     While Pathfinders does hold some interest once the troops get into Normandy and tells a little known story about an undoubtedly brave group of men, the chunky dialogue, wooden acting and miniscule budget undermine an interesting story that certainly should be told.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Pathfinders is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which I suspect is the original ratio, in 1080p.

     The colours have been desaturated: they are dull and drab with browns, khaki, greys and dull greens throughout. Skin tones thus took on a copper tone. Blacks were good, and shadow detail mostly OK, although there did seem to be some murky patches. When it counted, however, in the fighting in the dark, detail was fine. I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     The English subtitles come in a combination of white, yellow, blue and green text and follow the dialogue exactly (from the portion I sampled). Extra audio information is fairly limited.

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

Audio

     Audio choice was English DTS-HD MA 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. Dialogue occasionally was indistinct, but it really didn’t matter as little of interest was being said. The surrounds were used for ambience and gunshots, but there we no panning effects worth noting and the shots, and especially the explosions of hand grenades, were bland and lacking in oomph. The subwoofer was fairly subdued, mostly ambient noise.

     The music is credited to Chris Hurn, Philip Delorenzo, Lilli Turner and Steve Averill. It did a reasonable job of supporting the visuals without being memorable.

     Lip Synchronisation was fine.

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

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Eagle Entertainment: The Bridge (1:06), The Airlift (3:50), The Trial (2:02), Manolete (1:46), Like Dandelion Dust (2:30), and The Good, The Debt (2:13).

     There was no trailer for Pathfinders included although I know one exists as it appears on other Eagle titles I have recently reviewed. The company seems to have taken the decision not to include in the extras package of films they release the film’s trailer; I may be alone, but I do like to see them and the Madman system of including a film’s trailer, plus other trailers, is better.

Image Gallery

     18 film images. Background music, use the remote to advance.

R4 vs R1

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

     I could not find a Blu-ray release of the film in any other region at present. There is a Region B UK DVD release, specifications unknown. Our release is fine.

Summary

     While Pathfinders does hold some interest once the troops get into Normandy, and tells a little known story about an undoubtedly brave group of men, the chunky dialogue, wooden acting and miniscule budget undermine an interesting story that certainly should be told.

     The video and audio are nothing you would use to show off the advantages of Blu-ray. Extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, October 07, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def 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)
Too kind - Tom (read my bio) REPLY POSTED