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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > War > Terrorism > History > Religion > British > American Sniper (2014/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/A Man For All Seasons (1966/Columbia/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

American Sniper (2014/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/A Man For All Seasons (1966/Columbia/Sony/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)

Picture: B & C/B Sound: B+ & C+/B- Extras: C/B Films: B/B-

PLEASE NOTE: The A Man For All Seasons Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last from the link below.

One way biopics tend to avoid some of the formula of such films is by being connected to events as great and/or people as key as the main protagonist, as these two films show...

Clint Eastwood's American Sniper (2014) tells the story of expert soldier and sniper Chris Kyle (a stunning performance by Bradley Cooper) that gives us some of his background, but (based on part on a book he wrote before his untimely death at home) how he was so incensed by the events of 9/11 that he joined the military and eventually became one of its elite. Thus, the post 9/11 world becomes as relevant as anything, but he screenplay sticks with Kyle's like more than enough to show his transformation into a grown adult who happens to land up with a record number of assassinations.

Instead of overplaying that aspect of the story and life, which is treated like a myth that happens to be true in the best tradition of the Western genre. Sienna Miller is a plus as his wife,very convincing in her role without letting it become lame or cliché. The rest of the cast is fine and Eastwood does some of his best directing in years, even loosing control of the film on some level, which actually helps by letting take on a life of its own.

There are issues here including predictability finally setting in towards the latter half of the film, a one-sided portrayal of the Iraq people that could rightly be considered at least as semi-racist, though fitting in a PC 'good Iraq person' would have been condescending. It has a personal realism like parts of Cimino's The Deer Hunter (1978) where we follow a working-class man though the hell of war from beginning to end and with not always good consequences, but Eastwood, Cooper and company strongly invest and successfully stick with that angle and that is why the film was such a huge hit. Controversial, yes, but purely cinematic in character and the main character. Even the ending seems too pat, well handled as it is, but this one is when it works and that is often. Everyone should give this one a look.

Extras include Digital HD for PC, PC-like, and portable computer-based devices, while the Blu-ray disc adds a Making Of featurette and One Soldier's Story documentary.

Fred Zinnemann's A Man For All Seasons (1966) has Sir Thomas Moire taking on the Catholic Church and its English interests in a film, even more relevant that when I last looked at it a few years ago on DVD at this link:


It still has its issues, but also has some great acting, interesting locales, a unique sense of claustrophobia and tells its story without compromise. If you have never seen it, you should put it on your must-see list just to see how well much of this works. Glad to see it arrive on Blu-ray, even if only limited to 3,000 copies.

Extras include the featurette on More and two trailers from the previous DVD, but Twilight Time adds an illustrated booklet on the film with Julie Kirgo essay, new feature length audio commentary track by Kirgo, Nick Redmond & Lem Dobbs (three big film fans and scholars in top form yet again) and an Isolated Music Score featuring Georges Delerue's music. That's more like it!

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image in Sniper is an all-digital shoot that has its moments, but is not wide-ranging in its look, holding the film back a bit, though the anamorphically enhanced DVD is much softer and hard to watch. As a War film, it I able to get away with that flatness, but it is not the best-looking of its kind.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Man can sometimes show the age of the film and materials used, but this is far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film as it is from a new 4K HD master looking better than the DVD we covered before. Still, some shots look grainier than expected and others darker than I would have liked, but this was originally a dye-transfer, three-strip Technicolor film, which you can see in many places how it could have been despite not always have color that deep and wide ranging. That is enough for it to be a dead tie with Sniper for playback performance.

As for sound, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on Sniper is impressive throughout, well mixed, presented and a mixdown from its original Auro 11.1/Dolby Atmos 11.1 theatrical release where available. This means this could even sound better.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on Man is a further advance over the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on its DVD version and like the image, outdoes all previous sonic presentations, but in this case, I cannot imagine it is ever going to sound better than it does here, so fans should get it immediately. Add the isolated music track and it is a must-own for them and all serious libraries.

To order the A Man For All Seasons limited edition Blu-ray, buy it among other great releases while supplies last at this link:


- Nicholas Sheffo


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