SRP $39.95 2.35:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 COLUMBIA TRISTAR

There are plenty of “special editions” out there, but the “special edition” for “BLACK HAWK DOWN,” just released by COLUMBIA TRISTAR, truly delivers!
Perhaps Ridley Scott’s finest film, it tells the story of the events surrounding downed helicopters in Somalia, and the combined effort of the Army rangers and Delta Force to rescue them, while dealing with the animals and scum of the earth trying to kill them at the same time.
Scott tells his story with a gripping, realistic(think “SAVING PRIVATE RYAN”) perspective. The only scenes which veer towards being melodramatic, involve some over-the-top dialogue in some deathbed sequences.
Whereas the previous dvd release of the film featured a few extras, there’s plenty of supplements here, all included in a 3 disc set.

Sporting the same excellent film and audio transfer as before, the 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement is intact and flawless!  The dolby digital 5.1 mix is extremely aggressive, offering terrific detail. In spite of various layers of effects and music, the dialogue is always intelligible. The only disappointment is in the same lack of DTS 5.1 option not offered on the previous release either.

The first disc includes the film, along with options for three separate audio commentaries.  Director Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer are featured on this one, and it’s a “can’t miss!”  Not only is Scott forthcoming about every aspect of the film, but Bruckheimer’s quite entertaining to listen to.  Sure, he’s self-promoting and a bit unrealistic, but it makes this a commentary to savor!

A 2nd commentary with novelist Mark Bowden and screen writer Ken Nolan, allows for careful introspection regarding the real story, changes that had to be made in the story-to-script-to-screen process and more candor about their view of the results. While not what could be referred to as “entertaining,” it’s worth listening to.

A 3rd commentary, with three military professionals is certain to wow the films’ die hard fans.

The 2nd disc offers a lengthy documentary, “THE ESSENCE OF COMBAT.”  It offers tons of behind-the-scenes footage, and examination of various aspects of the film’s production.

“IMAGE AND DESIGN” explores the film’s incredible production design, with footage and production stills, storyboards and more.

There’s even more stuff on this side, but the best is most likely the deleted/alternate scene section.  Totaling close to twenty minutes, some scenes would’ve been better left in, and some out, but fans will have to decide.

The third and last disc of this set offers the complete History Channel documentary, “THE TRUE STORY OF BLACKHAWK DOWN.”  Running over 90 minutes, it’s in-depth and sensational in every aspect.  Still, the shorter Frontline episode, “AMBUSH IN MOGADISHU,” is even better!  To begin with, the narrator used for FRONTLINE, has a compelling voice which could make an owner’s manual sound engaging.  Also, FRONTLINE tends to piece things together in a seemingly reliable and provocative way, like “60 minutes” when it was at its best!

Add the theatrical trailer, more readily accessible here than on the previous dvd release, interviews, other trailers and more, and it makes for one of the best collector’s editions ever released!