Hart's War (2002)

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

Released 15-Oct-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Audio Commentary-Bruce Willis (Act), Gregory Hoblit (Dir) & Billy Ray (Writ)
Audio Commentary-David Foster (Producer)
Deleted Scenes-10 +/- director's commentary
Theatrical Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 119:38
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (65:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gregory Hoblit
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Bruce Willis
Colin Farrell
Cole Hauser
Terence Howard
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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
English for the Hearing Impaired
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Hebrew
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Hogan's Heroes meets A Few Good Men! This is one way (albeit slightly unfair) to describe the plot of Hart's War. Set in a POW camp. and coming complete with a court martial, you can maybe see my point. It is certainly not the film I thought it was, based on seeing the trailer some months back. The posters with Bruce Willis so prominent are also somewhat misleading. Willis doesn't actually play the part of Hart.

It's 1945, and the war in Europe is very nearly over. Colin Farrell is Lt Thomas Hart, the privileged son of a US senator, who is posted to command headquarters, safely tucked away from the front lines. But his war is just about to begin when he falls into enemy hands while on a routine errand, and is summarily interrogated, tortured, and force-marched to a POW camp. At the camp he meets Col McNamara (Bruce Willis), who doesn't believe that he didn't crack under the pressure of the German interrogator and divulge allied secrets. McNamara decides to dish out some punishment of his own, and sends Hart to bunk in with the enlisted men, and not in the officers barracks that Hart expected. It is here that Hart meets the leader of the barracks, the nasty weasel Vic Bedford (Cole Hauser), who takes an instant dislike to the pampered lieutenant. If Hart thought his existence couldn't get any worse, he was wrong. When two new prisoners, African-American fighter pilots, Lamaar Archer (Vicellous Shannon) and Lincoln Scott (Terrence Howard), are also sent to bunk in the same barracks as Hart, tensions rise. Seems some racial bigotry was just simmering below the surface, and in the racist Vic Bedford they have a chance to boil over.

I could offer quite a bit more of a plot synopsis here, but I really don't want to give away too much more. A couple of deaths result in a hastily and seemingly flawed Court Martial being arranged. Hart finds himself thrown into the spotlight with a leading role in the court martial, but he feels there is something bigger going down that he is not privy too, especially when he finds an unlikely ally in the urbane Col Visser (Marcel Iures), the cool and hard commander of the Stalag.

There's a great deal to like about Hart's War. It tries so hard to be something of an original war drama, with a couple of twisting subplots thrown in to keep the viewers on their toes. But it also has its faults, not the least of which is the failure to tackle what is, to be honest, a fairly weighty subject, that of racism within the Allied ranks. It really wants to focus on this issue, but it simply doesn't have the time to develop this theme if the rest of the story is to get told. Nonetheless it is a film that will reward the patient viewer and will provide a decent night's entertainment.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

The video transfer is pretty much flawless.

We're greeted with the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

As sharp as a pin throughout. There is a brief whiff of edge enhancement on a couple of the low light interior barracks shots, but it is barely noticeable. Shadow detail has plenty of opportunities to cause problems, but thankfully doesn't and is handled very well . There is almost no grain, and no low level noise. Almost perfect and effortless to watch.

Colours are very pale, almost washed out and lifeless. Set in the harsh European winter with plenty of snow and darkness, it really has no need for deep vibrant colours. Skin tones are natural and the blacks are exceptionally solid and deep. No problems are evident with posterisation or bleeding.

There are no MPEG artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts are also absent. There is not a trace of aliasing. Film artefacts are also pretty much absent.

There are plenty of subtitles to pick from. I sampled the English variety for the entire duration of the film while listening to the audio commentary and found them pretty much spot-on, apart from one or two minor inaccuracies.

A dual layered disc with RSDL formatting, the layer change occurs at 65:52 and is well placed.

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

Audio

Not a classic example of a war film soundtrack if you were looking for one. There aren't a whole load of explosions and battle scenes to keep your subwoofer/s happy so be prepared. The soundtrack offers decent separation and tight, clean and powerful response throughout. A modern soundtrack by all measures.

There are four audio soundtracks on this disc. There are two main film soundtracks, these being English and Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 efforts encoded at the higher bitrate of 448 kb/s. There are also two English audio commentary soundtracks.

Dialogue is always clear, which is very important given that this really does become a dialogue-heavy film. There are no audio sync problems.

The score by Rachel Portman is a highlight. Stirring, haunting, and dramatic. Good stuff indeed.

The surround channels don't get a great deal of work to do, though when required (during the dogfights for example at 46:00-47:00) they do handle the action very well, providing a decent enveloping experience.

The subwoofer mirrors the surround channels. During the dogfight battle (46:51, 47:00, and 47:37 most notably) the subwoofer gets to see some significant action. Other than that it's pretty much dormant.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Scene Selection Anim & Audio

Audio Commentary - Bruce Willis, Greg Hoblit (Director), Billy Ray (Writer)

This is really just a commentary from the latter two, as Bruce Willis' comments have been added in from a separate recording and he really doesn't add very much. The thoughts from director Greg Hoblit and writer Billy Ray are screen-specific, and actually quite informative and enjoyable. They are forthright and honest about the flaws that they see as obvious in the film and the changes that were made that caused them much angst. This is certainly a better than average commentary track that is only spoiled by the clumsy and quite fake-sounding interactions with Bruce Willis.

Audio Commentary - David Foster (Producer)

This is a fairly lacklustre commentary that just reiterates a lot of what the director and writer have to say. Screen-specific, but really does not add much value if you have already listened to the first commentary track.

Deleted Scenes

There are ten deleted scenes, all available with or without commentary from the director. They are all presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The overall quality is pretty similar to the main film. Subtitles in English only are available. Running time for these scenes ranges from 29 seconds to 1:52 minutes. From the commentary track, the director was reluctant to have many of them removed but timing and pacing reasons forced his hand.

Theatrical Trailer

Not the greatest trailer going around, as this one shows virtually all the action scenes from the film (there are not that many), and makes it appear much more of an action war flick with Bruce Willis as the main character. This is not the case at all. Presented in an aspect of 2.35:1, it is also 16x9 enhanced. Audio is provided by Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Total running time is 2:17 minutes.

Gallery - Photo

A four part photo gallery with each part running automatically. Sections covered and their respective number of photos and duration are Behind-The-Scenes (9 photos 36 seconds), The Film (24 photos 1:36 minutes) , The Set (4 photos 16 seconds), The Poster Shoot (16 photos 1:04 minutes). The photos are presented 16x9 enhanced, though they do not take up the full screen and are quite small.

R4 vs R1

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

The Region 4 disc misses out on:

Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Portuguese)
Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Trailers for Windtalkers, Jeremiah, and Stargate SG-1.

The Region 1 disc misses out on:

Dolby Digital 5.1 Soundtrack (Czech)

Unless one of the extra languages is something you deem important, the local disc is certainly the preferred version, for price and PAL formatting considerations.

Summary

An interesting film, that is somewhat original in its delivery and plot. It's for this reason that I found it to be a slight cut above average, even though it doesn't develop some of the key themes (such as racism) to the extent perhaps needed, and the casting of Bruce Willis seemed a little unusual for a role where he is not the gung-ho main attraction.

The video is flawless and very pleasing to watch.

The audio is also excellent, though it is not a war film to demo your expensive speakers to friends. The score is more of the highlight than the explosions.

The extras are notable, lead by a rather informative and critical commentary track from the director.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - John Z
DVD Net - Robert M

Comments (Add) NONE