Black Hawk Down [Blu-ray]
SRP $28.95 2.35:1 PCM 5.1 SONY

Considering the gritty reality achieved by Spielberg with “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”, it’s been hard to contemplate the possibility of another war film making as much of a substantial impact on the viewer as what he did.  Ridley Scott, with “BLACK HAWK DOWN” has done just that. “BLACK HAWK DOWN” is much more than a war film, it’s a provocative, patriotic, inspiring drama, refusing to pull away from the horrors and unpredictability of war.  The script closely follows the non-fiction book, detailing the failed mission to capture some top commanders for a ruthless warlord in Somalia.  Most people have probably forgotten the images flashed on televisions of the bodies of a downed chopper being dragged in the streets.  Thankfully, Scott doesn’t exploit those horrid images here at all.  What he does do, is succeed in presenting a visceral experience for the viewer where as one character states, “after the first bullet whizzes by your head, all politics are out the window”.  The film is about survival, camaraderie, honor, and other values. 

Just as “Apollo 13” brilliantly displayed how there can be monumental accomplishments even with a failed mission, “BLACK HAWK DOWN” proves that valor and dignity can be earned under any circumstances.

Even though the film was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer ,  “BLACK HAWK DOWN” seldom succumbs to the cliché dialogue permeating all of his past films.  There are a few brief moments where this happens, particularly in a soldier’s death scene near the film’s ending.  But, for the most part, the film is simply riveting, nail-biting drama, as the viewer, much like the trapped soldiers, anxiously awaits what is going to happen next!

The film begins with brilliantly composed titles, explaining what has been going on I Somalia, leading up to the planned extraction about to take place.  Scott allows for the script to play out with a less “hands on” approach than is typical with him in the past, and it works to the film’s advantage this time.  Complex issues are made simple to understand, and characters are well defined, something atypical in a Scott film!

SONY has provided a 1080p/MPEG-1 transfer with 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

The opening sequence suggests one of Scott’s typical over stylized blue neon extravaganza films is about to begin.  However, this changes quickly to a well processed image. Detail is flawless throughout the film.  In an often dirt-dry looking environment, seeing the actual beads of sweat begin to form on soldiers’ faces, creates a sense of depth only furthering the accomplishments of this BLU-RAY format!  There are deep blacks and grays, allowing for incredible detail during the intense night-fighting sequences.  This is a stellar transfer! It’s one of the best showcase examples for what BLU-RAY can do for the home theater experience when mastered correctly.

SONY has provided a PCM 5.1 mix and it’s a knockout!!! This mix ranks up there with the best mixes in either HD-DVD or BLU-RAY so far! It’s extremely aggressive and the dynamic range is incredible!  It also demonstrates how much proper balance affects a film’s impact.  During scenes wherein dialogue takes crucial significance, the terrific score is delegated to the rear, allowing for dialogue to remain perfectly intelligible and music intact. THIS IS A DEMONSTRATION QUALITY REFERENCE DISC!!!

SONY has not carried over the great documentaries of the three disc dvd set, or the deleted scenes. However, there are great commentaries, a 2 1/2 hour behind-the-scenes documentary and HD content.