In The Valley Of Elah DVD Cover Art
SRP $27.95 2.35:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 WARNER BROS
In The Valley Of Elah HDDVD Cover Art
SRP $35.95 2.35:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 WARNER BROS
In The Valley Of Elah BRAY Cover Art
SRP $35.95 2.35:1 Dolby TrueHD 5.1 WARNER BROS

Director Paul Haggis' first film since "CRASH," inevitably had high expectations to meet. "IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH" is a good film, and even almost a "great" film at times. It's real problem in meeting such high demands of the viewer, is that unlike "CRASH," "IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH" is a much smaller, personal film.  Based on a true story, adapted from a magazine article, the plot follows a patriotic American veteran,(Tommy Lee Jones)trying to find out(for the early part of the film)what happened to his son, upon his return home from Iraq. The army believes he's gone AWOL, but Jones believes something else must be at hand. Soon enough, it's discovered he's right, and another, harder struggle must be won, in order to find out exactly what happened to his son and why. The script, aided by great actors on every front, points out that his struggle to find explanations is beginning to reveal there are no reasonable explanations found to something that, by definition, is insane war, where lies are told and people in and out of bureaucracies have grown to accept horrible things and horrible behavior are just another given in war. There's no doubt where Haggis stands on the Iraq war, but "IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH" also makes an important statement about war in general, something akin to what Kubrick did with "PATHS OF GLORY."  There are no victors here, no matter what is determined, found out, concluded, because there is no satisfaction in the outcome for these people.

Whatever flaws lie within the script, and there are some glaring ones, the final scene with Tommy Lee Jones making a powerful gesture and statement, elevates this film to "landmark" status. His action is no less powerful than Bruce Dern's action at the end of "COMING HOME." "IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH" will likely be considered a classic, in time.

WARNER BROS. has released the film with the proper aspect ratio(2.35:1) with 16:9 enhancement on dvd, and the same 1080p/VC-1 transfer for blu-ray and hd-dvd. However, the HD-DVD also offers the dvd version on the flip side of the combo unit.  Colors are perfectly accurate and subdued, keeping the exact look of its theatrical presentation. Although it never appears dull, colors are notably restrained for a more somber atmosphere. The contrast on both blu-ray and hd-dvd, is excellent, offering perfect detail in darker scenes. Detail in virtually every scene is flawless. The dvd offers another high mark for WARNER BROS. Although it can't compare in detail to what's achieved in the high-def versions, color and contrast.

WARNER BROS has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for both blu-ray and hd-dvd. A Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has been provided for the dvd. While the dvd mix displays an immersive environment at times, with fine fidelity for the bulk of the film, it can't compare to the Dolby TrueHD mix. Even in typically, quiet moments, the sheer focus on pristinely captured dialogue is remarkable. LFE effects are prominent in many scenes, but it's in the Dolby TrueHD mix, wherein these seem more life-like, as opposed to having a slightly manufactured feel, present in the standard Dolby Digital mix.

All three formats offer a documentary/featurette and a deleted scene. None of the formats offer these in HD.