For those fans of Sam Mendes, like this reviewer, "JARHEAD" was one of last year's biggest disappointments. One hoped Mendes' examination of War, specifically the Persian Gulf War, would have offered the same kind of brilliant imagery and pathos found in "AMERICAN BEAUTY" and "ROAD TO PERDITION", but sadly, none of it exists in what's onscreen.
The theatrical trailer, again, falsely hinted at a combination of sight and sound, with revved-up imagery set to the music of Kanye West's "Jesus Walks", again. This reviewer truly believed this would be Mendes' "third" masterpiece. What went wrong?
Well,... The actual story, following the boring buildup of the ground assault in Operation Desert Shield, and the abrupt cease of the conflict for Marine snipers, who never get to execute their initial orders, is anti-climatic! The snipers are pissed and, ultimately, the audience is pissed, as there is no climax to speak of in the whole film. Everything is about anticipation, but nothing happens. Of course, there are plenty of issues raised "beneath" the surface about the idea of "war", and primal urges vs. rational thought, but none of these are really explored in any real context for discussion either.
There are scenes, however, based on actual events they may be, that are wholly predictable and dull. Who didn't know which soldier would kill himself upon returning home? Who didn't anticipate a soldier's wife committing adultery on a videotape he's been sent from home? The sad truth,...everyone knows the end of these scenes before they begin.
The cast is fine. Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhal and the rest do a great job with what they're given, but sadly they're not given enough.
Mendes does deserve credit for startling imagery of course, and there are plenty of scenes that are memorable for their visual impact alone, and absolutely nothing else! Scenes of Kuwaiti oilfields afire are startlingly beautiful and hint at what could've been an epic had their been a great script to match the cinematography.
UNIVERSAL has presented a great looking HD-DVD image! The colors are noticeably more life-like than on the standard dvd, which suffered from orange-ish tint. The contrast and detail to every scene is flawless! "JARHEAD" demonstrates what a great HD-DVD transfer should look like.
UNIVERSAL has included a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS soundmix. Here, again, Mendes surprises. The mix isn't anywhere nearly as involving as it had been on his previous films. This isn't what hindered the film, but it doesn't contribute to making a great mix either. While there is utilization of all speaker channels, there's not much in the way of 360 degree environment for the viewer. But, again, since there's mostly anti-climatic sequences, there is no real call for panning effects and explosions. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion. The music does get a boost here, and in this particular instance, the mix shines over its dvd counterpart.
All of the extras featured on the 2-disc Collector's edition dvd set have been included here.