SONY has released the Luc Besson retelling of the "Joan of Arc" story, "THE MESSENGER." Besson has proven to have a unique visual style in past work, and the ability to meld pop culture with art, so it's disappointing to find that his effort with the epic tale of the French heroine is only fair. Why a French director chose to take so many liberties with the factual history revolving around the historical figure, trial and other central characters, is dumbfounding. It could be argued that any historical film, taking place in the period of "Joan of Arc" inherently needs to take some liberties with lesser-known facts, to create a compelling narrative. But, just one horrible example in this script, has a scene in which Joan, hiding from the British, witnesses the brutal rape/murder of her sister, implying this as a possible cause for her motivation to wreak vengeance upon the British later on. A real problem exists with the fact that this incident "never" took place! Besson takes so many needless liberties with a story, that's already fascinating on its own, that the results are annoying!
Casting his then-wife, Milla Jovovich, in the lead was another mistake. She's been ok in some roles, but she's horrible here. There's not one scene in which one feels they're watching the character instead of a mediocre actress. Even the great John Malkovich is allowed to eat the scenery, creating unintentional laughs in every scene he's in.
Besson does create some visually stunning battle scenes, however, and it's a shame that, for entertainment's sake, the film doesn't focus on action alone, with less horrid attempts at narrative. Although, it's interesting in the way Besson doesn't offer a definitive stance as to whether Joan was crazy or really heard messages from God, there's nothing else brave or fresh about the filmmaker's viewpoint.
SONY has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. Surprisingly, the SONY transfer is disappointing. Colors tend to appear restrained, and grain is excessive in more than a few spots. Add to this nuisance, artifacts appear sporadically throughout, contrast is fair at best, and although some scenes offer great depth, the majority of the transfer falls flat. It's better than the dvd, certainly, but it doesn't offer the high quality depth SONY is typically so great at providing.
SONY has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. This mix is a standout! It's reference quality throughout! From beginning to end, the aggressive mix packs a whallop! Subtle ambient effects are perfectly balanced with deep bass and directional effects. The sweeping musical score is boosted at just the right moments, and with the right degree of immersion by all speakers. A GREAT SOUND MIX!