Errol Morris has proven to be one of the most innovative and refreshing directors, beginning with the brilliant film, "THE THIN BLUE LINE." SONY has released his most recent documentary, "STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE" on blu-ray and dvd. While this reviewer still believes "TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE" is an even more compelling film, both are brilliant, and "STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE" proves Morris is still one of the biggest talents in the film industry.
While some will probably take issue with the film being designated as a true "documentary" due to the use of re-enactments, and various filmmaking elements to reveal the story behind Abu Ghraib, these techniques are used in most documentaries, whether made for film or cable, and it doesn't detract from the filmmaker's examination of events with a reporter's zeal.
Morris utilizes numerous, gripping interviews, photographs and reenactments to reveal the "real" story behind the horrors of Abu Ghraib, and it's impossible to see the film without being disturbed by the actual facts of the scandal. The reason this reviewer slightly prefers "TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE" is because it's arguably a more forward "straight" documentary, that never loses its grip without using reenactments and makes a pretty strong case that Rumsfeld and his cronies really deserve to stand trial for what they did to one particular prisoner, alone, without even having to suggest it.
SONY has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for this release on both formats(16:9 enhanced for dvd). Both offer stunning detail, especially for standard resolution on dvd. Morris's documentary footage never relies on substandard material elements, and interviews are all filmed with high-def cameras, allowing for particularly impressive detail throughout. While there is grain present, colors are surprisingly rich. Blacks and grays are deep, and notably better contrast is offered on the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray than the dvd.
SONY has provided Dolby Digital 5.1 for dvd, and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for the blu-ray. Again, Morris utilizes music as an element to support the atmosphere of the documentary in the same way Hitchcock had, but without being over-the-top. Music, dialogue and effects are all perfectly balanced. Surrounds are understated, except for enhancing the wonderful score from Daniel Elfman. While the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is impressive, the dynamic range is easily more impressive within the lossless mix of the TrueHD.
A number of extras has been included with both formats, including a feature length commentary, deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. The blu-ray offers even more extras, including: two hours of extra interviews, a Q&A with Morris, and trailers(in HD).