Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
12 hrs ago
10 hrs ago
7 hrs ago
21 hrs ago
4 hrs ago
2 hrs ago
8 hrs ago
Age of Heroes(2011)
Based on the true story of James Bond creator Ian Fleming's 30 Commando unit, which was a precursor to Britain's elite forces.
For more about Age of Heroes and the Age of Heroes Blu-ray release, see Age of Heroes Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on December 30, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Sean Bean, Danny Dyer, Izabella Miko
Director: Adrian Vitoria
» See full cast & crew
Age of Heroes Blu-ray Review
Fleming. Ian Fleming.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, December 30, 2011
The old adage says to "write what you know," and while Ian Fleming was never a superspy secret agent like his iconic character James Bond, he did indeed work in counterilligence during World War II as part of Britain's Naval Intelligence Unit. While Fleming's "spy" career was more administrative, and in fact some would argue more tied to his writing and creative abilities than to any action elements, it no doubt gave Fleming valuable background which helped make the Bond novels so viscerally exciting. Perhaps the closest Fleming ever came to actually seeing combat was in his formation and supervision of the 30 Commando Unit, a cadre of intelligence specialists who sometimes arrived at the front before the actual battle had commenced and whose main purpose was to retrieve valuable information which could help in the Allied war effort. It's 30 Commando Unit's legacy which provides the fictionalized backdrop to Age of Heroes, a film which has an intriguing premise but which falls to easily into a sort of Dirty Dozen formula that deprives of it of a feeling of being innovative. Age of Heroes wants to depict the genesis of a new kind of warfare, a "smash and grab unit" to quote one of the film's characters, and that sort of "impossible missions force" (to cull a term from the popular television series Mission: Impossible) seems to be a really ripe subject for exploitation in the film medium, especially considering the Fleming connection. What might have been a thrilling historical treatise which could have paralleled the real life exploits of the 30 Commando Unit with Fleming's nascent creative juices perhaps dreaming of the adventures of super spy who would eventually become a worldwide phenomenon is instead a pretty standard World War II action thriller. While there's nothing egregiously wrong with Age of Heroes, other than some lapses in logic and character development which may be due to some haphazard post-production editing, there's a sense that this film really could have been so much more, considering its source elements.
Age of Heroes starts with a visceral scene of a battle between retreating British troops and advancing Germans, as the remnants of a brigade attempt to get to Dunkirk (and we all know how well that worked out). This pre- credits sequence introduces us to stalwart Corporal Rains (Danny Dyer), who risks his own life to rescue a wounded comrade. When the ragtag group of survivors comes upon some other stranded British troops, Rains soon finds himself arrested for insubordination in not agreeing to stay and fight in what is obviously going to be a no-win situation, considering the fact that there are a handful of Brits and hundreds (if not thousands) of Germans, and also due to the fact that Rains' now-deceased Sergeant had given orders for them to get to Dunkirk. The film, after a brief title sequence, then segues to the introduction of a Major Jones (Sean Bean), who is being enlisted (against his pregnant wife's wishes) to train a new tactical unit called 30 Commando. Right off the bat Age of Heroes makes a series of stumbles. First of all, we're introduced to Rains, who is therefore going to be presumed to be the main character, and then the film veers off course to bring in Jones. But even more peculiarly, Jones' supervisor is not even adequately identified as being Ian Fleming (portrayed by James D'Arcy) until much later in the film. If the whole Fleming tie in is supposed to be a major calling card for Age of Heroes, why this completely odd circumspect (and really baffling) way of dealing with the character?
Jones and Rains do eventually meet up, when Jones arrives at the Military Prison to retrieve a former colleague, Brightling (Stephen Walters), who, like Rains, is incarcerated. This leads to one of the most patently absurd moments in the film, when Rains takes Jones hostage for a moment and insists to become part of the Commando unit, which Jones (against his better judgment, of course) uneasily agrees to. We then segue to the rough and tumble training sequence of the film, where we're introduced to the rest of 30 Commando (also known in real life as 30 AU, for Assault Unit). This includes the nerdish Rollright (John Dagleish), a techie who is on hand to retrieve what will be the Unit's first objective, the then state of the art radar technology which the Germans had secreted away in the alpine reaches of Norway.
It's during this training sequence that one abrupt change occurs which is perhaps the film's most mind boggling, albeit relatively minor, jump in logic and motivation. The guys are on the shooting range showing their trainer that they can all do quite well, thank you, with firearms. Rains manages to hit his target with several well placed bullets. And then, just like that, he's being reprimanded for insubordination and is forced on an almost Bataan-esque march where he must hold his gun above his head for hours. He's then upbraided by a barrage of epithets hurled at him by both the trainer and, eventually, Jones himself. What is the reason for all of this? I actually went back twice to see if I had somehow missed some salient piece of information in the film, but there was none. This is perhaps the biggest evidence that this film was drastically altered in post, though why a sequence of this import was left in the film unexplained is truly baffling.
There are a couple of other rather major lapses in logic, or at the very least, historical accuracy in the film. The first may strike some as a niggling complaint, but tonally it's completely at odds with what one would expect of a British regiment in training, and that's the almost nonstop use of the "F-bomb" by the Scottish trainer who has taken the lads under his wing. There is simply no way this kind of language would have been tolerated in a military setting, especially in the 1940's, when manners, even in a rough and tumble setting like this, were a good deal more genteel. Just as off- putting, and actually ludicrous when you stop to think about it, is the peculiar decision by the Brits to dress all in dark brown as they parachute into the completely white environs of Norway. Have these soldiers never heard of camouflage? Even the Germans are wearing white! It's actually kind of funny in the far shots to see vast expanses of snowy alpine environments where the only things visible are these supposedly surreptitious intelligence grunts attempting to sneak into a camp and retrieve valuable radar technology. This decision may have been made for technical reasons—it is hard to spot white on white, after all—but it's a really odd decision that surely could have been handled in a more realistic manner. (Off-white, perhaps?).
What's left, therefore, is a kind of cut and paste adventure yarn where Jones and his ragtag assortment of former quasi-criminals forage into Norway and get their objective, fighting notorious Nazis along the way. The Nazis in this film are simply cartoons. They aren't just evil, they're eeevvvill, shooting a Norwegian family point blank as they film the carnage, with their Commander leering in sadistic pleasure. While the sequence is revolting, it's also ludicrious, as so much of Age of Heroes turns out to be. I'm not a big fan of historical films that are like museum pieces, with historical characters introduced by on-screen texts giving us their names and roles (think Tora! Tora! Tora! for a good example of this stateside, and the recent 1911 for an international example), but in the case of Age of Heroes, it might have helped. But that brings up the central problem with the film: it's supposedly based on fact, but it jettisons so much actual factual material for patently fictional fare that its tie to its source elements is tangential at best. This is a jumble that is unfortunately shaken, not stirring.
Age of Heroes Blu-ray, Video Quality
Age of Heroes is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1. The film suffers from inconsistent contrast which isn't a big deal when we're in the various European climes, but which becomes an issue once we're thrust into the nearly all-white environment of Norway. While the whites never bloom in this presentation, there's a milky sameness to the various lighter shades here which at least partially leads to an anemic looking presentation that assumes a soft ambience simply because fine detail can't be made out in the blanched look of the film. This tendency is overcome in the close-ups, which do in fact reveal some excellent fine detail, especially in the weathered (and ultimately pretty bloody) faces of the combatants. Some of the nighttime shots also suffer from poor contrast and inconsistent black levels, and while there's little crush per se, there's also fairly poor shadow detail, something that makes some of the nighttime battle sequences hard to make out. (One sequence featuring a hand-on-hand fight between one of the heroes and a German was so hard to make out I actually thought the reverse outcome to what actually happened had occurred, until subsequent events proved what actually had occurred). Colors overall in this film are quite subdued, but look generally accurate, and the fleeting use of CGI, while not breathtaking, is certainly acceptable.
Age of Heroes Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Age of Heroes features two 5.1 audio options, a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and a standard lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The DTS mix is extremely forceful and features a wealth of LFE which assaults the listener from the first visceral battle sequence and which becomes especially impressive in the film's final act, when a series of desperate battles erupts. Discrete channel utilization is offered here, with various machine guns and grenade blasts clearly emanating from the sides and rear. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, even in the busiest battle sequences, and effects, including some quieter environmental ones like wind and the sound of the unit moving across snow, are also well done and frequently nicely placed around the soundfield. The film doesn't have a lot of score, but the few cues are artfully mixed into the proceedings and never intrude on the overall well prioritized mix of dialogue and effects. Fidelity is excellent throughout, with similarly excellent dynamic range.
Age of Heroes Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Age of Heroes Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Age of Heroes is one of those maddening "might have been" experiences where you can't help but wonder what a more nuts and bolts, "just the facts ma'am" approach might have engendered. This film as it stands is too slapdash, and seems cut to smithereens to the point where quite a bit of it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's not horrible by any means, but once you start to analyze its historical anchor and how exciting and interesting it could have been, the film becomes an exercise in frustration. This subject matter actually deserves a big budget, nuanced film adaptation. Unfortunately, Age of Heroes is not that film.
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to Age of Heroes. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to Age of Heroes in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
Age of Heroes Blu-ray, News and Updates
No related news posts for Age of Heroes Blu-ray yet.
Age of Heroes Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
Age of Heroes Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to Age of Heroes Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.