Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers (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-x 6 but none for this film
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 91:40 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Curt A. Sindelar
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Charlie Armstrong
Curt A. Sindelar
Christopher Serrone
Michael Conner Humphreys
Jon Ashley Hall
Billy Reynolds
Catherine Johnson
David Poland
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     I recently reviewed the Blu-ray release of Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers here. The following plot synopsis is adapted from that review. .

     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 airborne camp, the airfield or the French countryside: instead we get to see one tent and one DC-3 on an open field. There are also numerous characters, mostly indistinguishable from each other, who mostly sit around talking. As well, 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), Pfc. 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 show the chaotic nature of hedgerow fighting in the dark, with gunfire fire and sounds coming from everywhere, and the film does build some 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: some shots are held static for a long time, seemingly at random, while in contrast profuse and jumbled intercutting and blurred camerawork give a very film school feel. It is if the directors try every technique they have been taught, sometimes in one scene, but it comes across as amateurish.

     While Pathfinders tells a little known story about an undoubtedly brave group of men, the chunky dialogue, wooden acting, film school editing and miniscule budget undermine their story.

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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, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     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 were some murky patches. However in the chaotic fighting in the dark, detail was acceptable. I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

     The English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are in a clear white font that, from the portion sampled, follow the dialogue exactly. Extra audio information is fairly limited.

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

Audio

     Audio is a choice from English DTS 5.1 at 754 Kbps and Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps. The DTS at this low Kbps sounds flat and muffled, and in fact in this instance the Dolby Digital is sharper, cleaner and should be selected.

     Dialogue occasionally was indistinct, but it really didn’t matter as little of interest was being said. The surrounds were used for ambience, music and gunshots, but there were no panning effects worth noting. Gunshots from the various weapons were OK but the explosions of hand grenades were bland and lacking in oomph. The subwoofer was fairly subdued, mostly a rumble of ambient noise when the soldiers were in France and music.

     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

     These trailers play on start up (and need to be individually skipped). They can also be selected from the “Extras” menu: The Bridge (1:07), Like Dandelion Dust (2:25), The Airlift (3:51), The Trial (2:03), Manolete (1:43) and The Debt (2:14).

     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 the film’s trailer. I may be alone, but I do like a film’s trailer included to see how it was sold to audiences.

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 current Region 1 US release. There is a Region B UK DVD release, but its specifications are not listed. Our release is fine.

Summary

     Pathfinders: In the Company of Strangers is “based upon the untold true story” however the chunky dialogue, wooden acting, film school editing and minuscule budget do not do justice to these brave men.

     The video and audio are nothing special but are OK. Extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, October 26, 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

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