This reviewer has to admit that due to considering Director Sam Mendes one of the world's greatest directors, based upon his first two films, his third, "JARHEAD" had probably ridiculously high expectations to meet. Upon seeing the imagery, use of music and editing of the theatrical trailer before seeing the film, these expectations were further increased. So, after finally seeing "JARHEAD," it was all the more disappointing to find that while there were many powerful images, the film lacked any sense of the emotional payoff found in his other work.
The film is adapted from the true-story account of a marine, exploring his journey from boot-camp up to his anti-climatic mobilization into the first Gulf War. While the resolution of various events are true, and the film is focused on one particular marine's encounters, that doesn't mean "his" story is necessarily compelling, and it isn't! Mendes achieves presenting a certain quality of majesty to what's displayed on screen, but the narrative offers nothing new, and there's no real arc for the characters. Ultimately, the film feels like Mendes has pulled the punch to every scene and the film's conclusion, just as events have appeared to do to the main character, played respectfully by Jake Gyllenhaal. Fox is quite good in his scenes, but even his character feels a complete waste in terms of the film as a whole. In one particular scene, a marine finds his wife is cheating on him, while viewing her adultery, vividly, accidentally taped over a VHS movie she's sent for him to enjoy with his fellow marines. Unfortunately, the scene feels predictable, while it unfolds and it has zero impact. Thus, yet one example of the majority of scenes that fail to pay off.
UNIVERSAL has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/VC-1 encoded blu-ray. While most of the scenes offer terrific depth, colors are typically and intentionally restrained, often appearing unnecessarily muted. There are a few instances popping up wherein lack of deep blacks causes imagery to fall flat, but much of the film offers "jump-off-the-screen" resolution.
UNIVERSAL has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. It's certainly not an aggressive mix, as there's little in the way of action one expects from a "war" setting film. However, while most of the film is center or front-channel focused, when surrounds are utilized, an immersive, fully immersive experience is offered. Bass is extremely powerful, especially in terms of the music, when employed.
Two audio commentaries are included. One of them is with Mendes, and the other is with screenwriter, William Broyles, jr, and the actual marine who wrote the story from which the film was adapted, Anthony Swofford. Both commentaries are great, and both couldn't be more different from one another, exploring different perspectives of the story and its development, with the writer's commentary focusing more on the marine's real-life experiences, much more engaging than what's offered in the final film.