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Black Hawk Down(2001)
In October 1993, an elite group of U.S. soldiers were sent into Mogadishu, Somalia as part of a U.N. peacekeeping operation. Their mission: to abduct two top lieutenants of the Somali warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid, as part of a strategy to quell the civil war and famine that was ravaging the country. Arriving with good intentions, their carefully planned mission took an unexpected turn resulting in the U.S. military's single biggest firefight since Vietnam. Based on the true story of the Battle of Mogadishu by Mark Bowden.
For more about Black Hawk Down and the Black Hawk Down Blu-ray release, see Black Hawk Down Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on August 14, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Jason Isaacs, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner
Director: Ridley Scott
» See full cast & crew
Black Hawk Down Blu-ray Review
Ridley Scott's harrowing film is a revelation on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, August 14, 2007
Black Hawk Down premiered in December of 2001, a mere three months after the world had faced the harsh reality of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. I vividly remember a small controversy brewing at that time, questioning the film's release in the wake of the attacks. Apparently, some critics felt that the film was arriving too soon after the attacks and that audiences weren't ready to see a film that dealt with the realities of the military and terrorism. Despite those concerns, the film was heralded as an instant classic; moviegoers responded by turning up in droves. Perhaps the reason behind Black Hawk Down's success lies in the strong sense of optimism the film displays, in spite of the tragedy that it portrays on screen.
Somalia, 1993: A small team of Army Rangers and Delta Force Troops on a peace-keeping mission in Somalia, attempt to help avert mass genocide and to protect Somali citizens from barbaric acts of violence and the various militias that occupy the country. When one hundred American soldiers are sent into Mogadishu to arrest a handful of particularly sadistic militia leaders, they find themselves in the midst of an international incident with deadly consequences. Each soldier will be confronted with the realities and horrors of combat as they protect innocent civilians and each other from the surging ranks of hostile forces. Black Hawk Down is a relentless, harrowing and true story of bravery, in the face of the horrors of war.
Black Hawk Down can be a seriously difficult film to watch; its hyper-realistic portrayal of battle and in-your-face violence drive home the almost impossible adversity that the soldiers are faced with. The film is nothing if not extraordinarily unnerving. By situating the viewer in the line of fire and in the midst of the battle, Director Ridley Scott achieves the effect of rendering his audience in a near state of panic. It's an unforgettable, exhausting and purposely unpleasant experience.
One of the most amazing things about Black Hawk Down is that in spite of the seemingly random confusion represented on screen, the film brilliantly maps out the soldiers' strategies and tactics. There is, indeed, a method in all of the madness. Being a true virtuoso, Mr. Scott frames the action so precisely, and through such perfect camera angles and placement, that we are able to follow all of the action on screen as though we are participating in the battle. With just about any other director, this kind of controlled chaos could have led to a very confusing film experience for the viewer. It is clear that every last detail of this film had been thoroughly choreographed and intricately planned. Mr. Scott's under-appreciated skills as a visual storyteller make this film a success. Ultimately, Black Hawk Down is a painful film that shows us the realities of war and the horrors of the situation in Somalia. Whatever your political affiliations or opinions might be, this is an important film that deserves to be seen.
Black Hawk Down Blu-ray, Video Quality
Black Hawk Down certainly isn't the prettiest film ever shot; it is comprised of material that could have easily been a video nightmare if not handled with extreme care. Sony has stepped up to the plate with this release by offering an accurate transfer that highlights the gritty nature of the original photography, rather than attempting to make the film look pretty. The resulting Blu-ray disc is easily the finest and most accurate version of Black Hawk Down ever presented on home video. Everything one would expect from a reference-grade transfer is here: stunning black levels, superlative shadow details and a perfect rendering of the film's muted color palette. The level of detail on screen is nothing short of amazing; every last drop of blood and sweat is presented in unmatched high definition clarity.
Again, Black Hawk Down makes no attempt at being even remotely colorful, glossy or polished in its presentation. The film is dirty, dark and gritty while relying on heavy use of filters and post-production manipulation to achieve its unique look. Successfully bringing the cinema experience home requires capturing a film exactly the way the director and cinematographer intended for it to be viewed in theaters. The Blu-ray release of Black Hawk Down easily accomplishes this goal. Black Hawk Down is the very definition of reference quality and is highly recommended.
Black Hawk Down Blu-ray, Audio Quality
As has been the case with all of Sony's Blu-ray releases thus far, Black Hawk Down is presented with uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio that is the epitome of reference grade. There's nothing subtle about this surround track. From the opening bars of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Voodoo Chile' to the thousands of bullets that whiz by throughout the film; one feels completely immersed in the action as it unfolds on screen. This is, quite simply, one of the most active and exciting surround tracks I've ever experienced.
Bass lovers will have a field day with this disc and those obsessed with incredible dimensionality will be in heaven. The "Less is More" philosophy does not apply to Black Hawk Down; I was immediately transported from my home theater to the streets of Mogadishu where cannons, rockets, tanks and helicopters all filled the room. It's an all-encompassing experience that is as disturbing as it is impressive. If you haven't experienced Black Hawk Down on Blu-ray, you are missing out on one of the format's most impressive audio demonstrations. Highly Recommended.
Black Hawk Down Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
-Commentaries from Author Mark Bowden and Screenwriter Ken Nolan as well as Ridely Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer and Veterans of the actual Somali conflict
-The Essence of Combat: Making Black Hawk Down
The various commentaries included with Black Hawk Down all offer differing yet intriguing insights on the film as well as the conflict that inspired it. I was particularly impressed with the commentary track from the veterans of the Somali incident. Their insight and emotion is a sobering companion piece to the film that should be required viewing for any fan of the film. The "Essence of Combat" feature goes into extreme detail regarding the filming of the combat sequences in the film. This is a highly technical feature that should be particularly enlightening for aspiring filmmakers. Black Hawk Down also includes Sony's 'Blu-Scape' feature; the viewer is able to create a custom playlist of supplements that will then appear throughout the film. I found the feature to be interesting, but I'm not sure how much replay value it has.
Black Hawk Down Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Black Hawk Down is a devastating film that gives us a glimpse into the terror of combat and the horrible events that transpired in Somalia in 1993. Director Ridley Scott delivers a nail-biting and nerve-racking film that will put the viewer right in the line of fire. Fortunately, this Blu-ray release from Sony perfectly captures the theatrical experience of this often disturbing film by delivering exceptional picture quality and an amazing PCM audio track. Black Hawk Down has to be seen to be believed and is an essential and must-own title on Blu-ray.
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