This reviewer has to admit hating most films by Andrew Davis, believing "THE FUGITIVE" to be one of the most over-praised films of all time and that other than "UNDER SIEGE", everything else he's done has been pure crap, until now! "THE GUARDIAN," against all logic and expectations from the trailer, is excellent entertainment and surprisingly moving! Kevin Costner stars as a Naval Legend within the Coast guard responsible for more "saves" than anyone before him or since. After a horrific accident, Costner begins to doubt his skills, his wifeI(SELA WARD) decides to leave him, and he's reassigned to teach at the Coast Guard Academy. Enter "Ashton Kutcher" as a cocky, too sure of himself cadet and the audience can tell there's going to be conflict and new respect paid to and from each of these characters. Sure, there are a fair share of needless moments and predictable plot elements. Kutcher falls in love with a local girl, a surprise past is revealed in a scene evoking memories of "GOOD WILL HUNTING," and there's a completely ridiculous character who happens to run the local bar when she's not singing with the bar band!!!! But, there are enough genuine surprises, heartfelt moments and a sense of respect for the audience that make "THE GUARDIAN" one of the biggest surprises of the past year. Kutcher is actually decent here! But, Costner steals the show. He continues to prove he's a fine actor that is actually improving with age. Much is said without dialogue, and only a look. He's great, and so is the film!
BUENA VISTA has provided a 1080p/MPEG-2 transfer with the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio intact. While not one of the best blu-ray transfers, colors are generally rich. Contrast is excellent, lending for deep blacks and grays in some of the darker scenes. But, some of the fine detail emanating throughout most of the film is diminished during some crucial rescue scenes taking place at night, preventing the transfer from getting a top rating.
BUENA VISTA has provided a PCM 5.1 mix. It's one of the best mixes available on BLU-RAY so far and sure to impress even the most particular audiophile. Surrounds and discrete effects are used creatively in virtually every scene, however achieving their most impact during moments at sea. Ambient effects make for a completely engulfing experience and there are plenty of bass effects to give even the best woofer a real workout. Dialogue is always intelligible, even amidst numerous layers of sound and music effects.
All of the extras from the dvd are carried over in addition to a Q&A section, only available here. The deleted scenes include an alternate ending which many will probably prefer, although this critic loved the daring of the original ending.