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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > WWII > Submarines > U-571 (HD-DVD)

U-571 (HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B+     Extras: C     Film: C



Jonathan Mostow’s U-571 (2000) is a reactionary and strange action film, as well as one of the last of its kind before 9/11.  It was also part of a cycle of such films in the genre including Pearl Harbor and The Siege that seemed to just be acing for something bad to happen in real life, then it did.  I doubt the film would be made quite the same way now, but it was revisionist history to begin with, crediting the U.S. and not Britain with obtaining the Nazi Decoder that was winning them the war for a long, dark period of time.  That is the premise of the James Bond film From Russia With Love (1963) even though it has its own exaggerations, they cannot match this film’s.


Matthew McConaughey stars as the really quasi-Fascist young Navy Captain who has to take some wet-behind-the-ears young men out to sea to battle the Nazis out of nowhere in their submarine.  They have to pretend to be Nazis; but with McConaughey’s character slapping recruits around saying their arrangement is not a democracy, that will not be a stretch for him.  Can they trick the enemy and get one of the valuable boxes that can change the course of the war?  Will it matter in the Captain’s hands?  Good thing there’s plenty of explosions to keep us from thinking about the consequences.


Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jake Weber, Jack Noseworthy, David Keith and even Jon Bon Jovi co-star in this would-be thriller that never shakes the sense that it is so by the numbers.  Even if you suspend the revisionist history of the film robbing credit that should go to British Intelligence, it has so many other narrative, ideological and pacing problems that the fact it was a hit is luck on the part of the producers.  Mostow can direct, but the film is pretty empty when all is said and done.  Of course, Bon Jovi in any film is a stamp of bad news, but there is little in the way of suspense and you could honestly care less about anyone or what happens.  They are all miserable, as is the film.  Noseworthy offers the boredom-breaker of the film listening for explosive charges as he keeps whispering that he hears “splashes” just before the sub is rocked like a U.S.S. Enterprise attack in the Star Trek franchise.  Crimson Tide this is not.


The 2.35 X 1 digital 1080i High Definition image was shot by cinematographer Oliver Wood in Super 35 and has not aged that well.  It was very slightly darkened to make us think the 1940s, then that action sequences retained some of that before entering its own surreal world of digital and water, the latter of which was often digital or maybe even dry-for-wet shooting.  It was nothing special then and not very memorable on a visual level.  With so many other films looking as generic these days, that situation has only become worse.


The sound mix is inarguable, offered with up to 7.1 tracks in its theatrical release at theaters showing it in 2000 in the theater-only SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) format and was also issued in the D-VHS D-Theater format where it was considered one of the best performers before prerecorded product in that format folded.  This HD-DVD offers solid 5.1 mixes in both Dolby Digital Plus and regular DTS versions that should make just about everyone happy.  No, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD are not included and Richard Marvin’s score is unmemorable too, but it makes for a great sound demo if nothing else.


Extras include six featurettes and director’s commentary that are only enjoyable if you like the film.  Good luck.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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