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Category:    Home > Reviews > War > Mystery > Drama > Courage Under Fire (Blu-ray)

Courage Under Fire (Blu-ray)

 

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

 

 

The military has a strange case where their first ever female Medal Of Honor winner (Meg Ryan) is dead and the stories form each of the other soldiers there blame her for a miscalculation that caused her demise.  It seems like a shame, keeps the military squarely in its male-dominated mode and seems like a shut case.  However, an exceptional Army investigator (Denzel Washington) slowly discovers that something is not adding up about the facts and reports, and decides to make deeper inquiries no matter what the consequences in Edward Zwick’s terrific thriller Courage Under Fire (1996).

 

The film explores the meaning of integrity and honor as much as it does the well-constructed mystery and all of its deep implications.  Washington plays the role to no-nonsense perfection, but the true surprise here is the stunning performance by Meg Ryan, who was insanely ignored by the critics and at awards time for what is one of the greatest performances she’ll ever give.  Post 9/11, this would have never been ignored, but over a decade later, as the film and the work of all endure, it is obvious it was just too intense for those used to her romantic comedy roles.

 

Michael Moriarty, Scott Glenn, Bronson Pinchot, Lou Diamond Philips and a still then-unknown and often unrecognizable Matt Damon co-star in what might be director Ed Zwick’s most underrated film.  It did not so the business it deserved at the time and Fox has made an extremely wise decision to make it one of their early Blu-ray discs.  Cheers also to the underrated, clever, mature, heart & soul screenplay by Patrick Sheane Duncan, who pulls off two genres masterfully in one fine work.

 

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital MPEG-2 @ 18 MBPS High Definition image looks good, but also looks like an older HD transfer with edge enhancement and other pre-HD manipulations here and there that hold back portions of Roger Deakins’, A.S.C./B.S.C., terrific cinematography.  Otherwise, this is superior to the best DVD version and one of the best back catalog Blu-ray titles to date.  The DTS HD Master Audio lossless 192kHz/24-bit 5.1 has a fine mix of moments that really kick in and others that have a subtler soundfield with character.  Besides the superior DTS track for which no one as of this posting has the HD chip, but this title offers the new D-BOX function.

 

The D-BOX Technology Odyssee Motion Simulator is a new version of the classic system Sensurround, except that it has more direct bass and motion placement like a specialty amusement park attraction.  Most people will not have this item either as of this posting, but it may catch on and this will be one of the primary titles that will make its success possible.  We look forward to retesting the sound on this title often.  Needless to say this has none of the problems of the HD-DVD and Blu-ray of Zwick’s The Last Samurai.

 

Extras include a trivia track, the original theatrical trailer in HD and Zwick’s feature length audio commentary worth your time, much like the film itself.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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