Director Jonathan Mostow’s “BREAKDOWN” was extremely over-rated, but UNIVERSAL obviously saw something in him worth taking a chance on, and thank goodness they did! “U-571”, while imperfect, is still one of the better action-war dramas of recent memory. In this WW2 drama, Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton star as men in charge of a secret mission to capture a German U-boat carrying the all important “Enigma” machine. Needless to say, things go awry and the crew encounters one perilous challenge after another to complete their mission and hopefully survive. There are plenty of holes in the script, but Mostow keeps the action moving at a breakneck speed, so much so, that the film remains worthwhile in spite of itself.
UNIVERSAL has utilized this film to showcase the potential of High Definition previously with “D-VHS”, and it’s equally impressive on HD-DVD! The 2.35:1 widescreen imagery is perfectly captured here and looks magnificent. Colors are solid, but also rich in every instance. The various hues of the ocean settings can’t appear more vibrant and life-like than they do here! UNIVERSAL has done well in selecting “U-571” to demonstrate the ability of the “HD-DVD” format!
UNIVERSAL also knows “U-571” has a great soundmix. All previous versions of the film included a “DTS” mix as well as here. Surprisingly, out of the three mix options offered, “DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS, DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1, DTS 5.1”, the DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS was clearly the best! But, for those without 6 channel analog inputs, the “DTS” version offers best overall quality. The mixes are superior to the previously available dvd soundmixes, and even those were terrific! Now, there’s more detail to every scene, and the “pings” from sonar, add the necessary tension to key scenes, in a way unrivaled previously! There’s better bass and overall definition in this mix than on almost any standard dvd we’ve heard. So, now for “sound” as well as “image”, “U-571” is a knockout demonstration HD-DVD!!!
All of the extras found on the standard dvd are offered here, including audio commentary and various featurettes.