This reviewer recalls being completely psyched upon initially seeing the
theatrical trailer for "DEFIANCE" months before its theatrical release. To
begin with, even though all trailers are intended to generate the most
excitement from the most exciting scenes of the final film, this one had the
stamp of Director Ed Zwick, someone whom has given a rare level of mastery to
important historical subject matter as was the case with his masterpiece,
"GLORY." However, while "DEFIANCE" didn't need to be as brilliantly executed as
"SCHINDLER'S LIST" to still be a great film(Even Schindler's List had its share
of real flaws! Eg, the indulgent use of color for the girl, the suddenly crappy,
false, melodramatic soliloquie of Schindler with "One ring, this ring could've
saved one more life!"BLECH!) "DEFIANCE" is a major disappointment on many
fronts! For every great scene, there are many more that are painfully slow and
Even more distressing is the fact that the film's specific subject matter, the "Bielski
Brothers," already offered great source material due to a well-researched
biography. So, any liberties taken with the script adaptation should've been
done to craft generate a tight, script. Unfortunately, "DEFIANCE" feels more
meandering than inspiring! While Craig is great in his role, and Schreiber is
quite good, Jamie Bell feels totally miscast.
Zwick made "Glory" and even "BLOOD DIAMOND" as a film which transcended a
specific audience. Both dealt with racism, and other important themes, but with
a notable intent in its execution for a broad-based audience, beyond African
Americans. "DEFIANCE" feels and plays as if it's meant specifically and soley
for a Jewish audience and even more-so for one with an affinity for Yiddish
humor(at least as a few horrible dialogue lines suggest).
If one believes this critique to be too harsh, it's only because this reviewer
had such high expectations for a film based on fact, concerning the rarely known
facts about Jews standing up to their oppressors, and the result, while not
necessarily "crap," isn't all that much better! When a great film nears its
conclusion, a viewer should either be hoping the film isn't ending soon, or at
least that it's coming together seamlessly. Instead, half-way through
"DEFIANCE," one feels like they're watching an epic that has far too long to go
before its end, and it's not going to be worth sitting through.
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
blu-ray and 16:9 enhanced dvd. The unfriendly cold elements of outdoor survival
in which the Jewish refugees must fight nature as well as inhumanity, create a
stark palette in many sequences. Still, colors feel natural, even when subdued.
Colors are well balanced on the dvd but never achieve the richness of the blu-ray.
Detail is impressive on both formats, however, the depth found on the blu-ray
blows away the standard resolution consistently, with extraordinary detail and
"jump-off-the-screen" impact. There are scenes on the blu-ray which are less
impressive than others, but the image never falls flat. While colors are well
handled on dvd, contrast is notably inferior, especially apparant in darker
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1
for dvd. Both mixes are aggressive and well balanced. From beginning to end,
dialogue, music and discrete effects blend seamlessly without overshadowing one
another. Bass is quite prominent and effective during crucial action sequences
and will awaken viewers otherwise asleep from the typically sluggish pacing. The
bass and dynamic range are notably better on the lossy mix than dvd, but both
are entertaining and examples of fine work.
Plenty of extras are offered, including a commentary with Zwick, far more
entertaining than the film. He's an amiable guy, and it's just a shame that
while he recognizes the importance of the material and its history, yet still
couldn't create something much, much, better or tolerable than this mediocre(at
Several featurettes examining the film's development, historical figures, and
the "score" by James Newton Howard are offered. (all in HD on blu-ray). Note:
This is the one score from Howard that's completely forgettable!