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Force 10 from Navarone(1978)
In the darkest days of World War II, Hitler's armies are storming through Europe, annihilating all opposition in their path. But U.S. Colonel Barnsby (Ford) plots to strike a crippling blow to the brutal Nazi forces. To succeed, he'll need to help of the most skilled and lethal soldiers in the world: the Force 10 squad, fresh from its triumphant mission at Navarone.
For more about Force 10 from Navarone and the Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray release, see Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on May 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Shaw, Harrison Ford, Edward Fox, Barbara Bach, Franco Nero, Richard Kiel
Director: Guy Hamilton
» See full cast & crew
Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray Review
The sequel to a World War II classic forces it's way onto the Blu-ray format.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, May 28, 2009
Force 10 from Navarone is the 1978 sequel to the highly regarded World War II film Guns of Navarone. Considering it was released 17 years after the original film, the studio substituted actors in the main roles of the film, opting for Robert Shaw to take Gregory Peck's role and Edward Fox to fill David Niven's shoes. Both films are based on novels by Alistair MacLean, but Force 10 from Navarone never achieved the success of it's superior predecessor, which is sad considering it was Robert Shaw's final film before his untimely death at the age of 51. Now, more than twenty years after the original release, a new generation of film-buffs have the opportunity to draw their own conclusions on a film that's divided critics over the years.
Picking up where Guns of Navarone left off, Miller (Edward Fox) and Mallory (Robert Shaw) return home to learn a German spy named Nicolai was in their midst throughout their prior mission. The two men are charged with the task of tracking down this German spy, who's infiltrated a group of Yugoslavian Partisans under the false identity of Captain Lescovar (Franco Nero). Joining them in the trip to Yugoslavia, is a brash young Lieutenant Colonel named Mike Barnsby (Harrison Ford in his first role after Star Wars) and his sabotage unit known as "Force 10". Both parties know nothing of each other's mission in the beginning, but as the story unfolds we find out Barnsby's team has been given the task of destroying a key bridge used by Nazi transport vehicles.
In order to avoid being noticed by enemy or allied forces, the rag-tag group of soldiers commandeer an aircraft, and acquire an unexpected addition in the hot-headed Sergeant Weaver (Carl Weathers). From that point forward, everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Their plane is shot down over Yugoslavia; the survivors are captured by Chetniks; and their eventually held captive by a Nazi commander (Michael Byrne) with a personal agenda (and that's just the first half hour of the film).
As you can imagine, the story eventually winds it's way toward a climax that settles in on the mission at hand, but the overall plot appears more interested in presenting characters with ulterior motives and scenarios for our heroes to escape. It's a little ironic that so many players (including director Guy Hamilton) have a history of noteworthy roles in James Bond films, since this tends to feel like a "James Bond meets World War II" production. Miller has the trademark gadgets from a Bond film (exploding pen and such), and the bad guys exhibit the convenient stupidity that was so brilliantly spoofed in the Austin Powers series. From an acting standpoint, the film contains a surprising number of grade-a actors. Two of the better performances come from Robert Shaw and Harrison Ford, who seem perfectly at home in their roles as reluctant comrades. If there was one role that didn't fit in the film (and could have been cut altogether) it would be Carl Weathers role as Sergeant Weaver. Weathers is an excellent actor, but he's forced to play his part with a chip on his shoulder which feels more than a little forced. It's a wonder Weathers managed to find work in Hollywood after this disappointing role.
If you're in the mood for entertainment, I can't see any reason to pass on this film. There's nothing in-depth or awe-inspiring about the plot, but that isn't always a bad thing when evaluating a film that never intended to take itself serious in the first place. With sufficient action, suspense and tongue-in-cheek humor, Force 10 from Navarone will hold up well in multiple viewings, and I found it easy to overlook the occasional missteps in the film.
Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 21Mbps), Force 10 from Navarone is not your typical high-definition experience. For a film that's just over thirty years old, I expected somewhat better proficiency in fine object detail. From the moment the film opens, the transfer exhibits a level of softness that barely surpasses an upconverted DVD. This is likely present in the source material and not a deficiency of the transfer, but it's still worth mentioning in case you were hoping to see video quality on par with some of the recently remastered Blu-ray's of classic films. To make matters worse, some scenes exhibit a heavy dose of grain that gives the background a noisy characteristic, and there are numerous specks or scratches that pop up from time to time. On the bright side, I was impressed with the natural skintones and appropriate color saturation throughout the film (which is likely the area of greatest improvement over the standard definition release). Black levels and contrast are excellent during daytime sequences, but most of the nighttime sequences contain subpar contrast with a significant drop in shadow detail.
Overall, the transfer should reflect a marginal improvement over the DVD edition, but stands as a below-average example of Blu-ray's high-definition capability.
Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Similar to the visual quality, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA English track is clearly limited by deficiencies in the original recording. I didn't expect much surround use since you can't turn applejuice into an apple, but I hoped the audio experience would at least exhibit occasional spatial dynamics. Grounded securely in the front soundstage, the track is notably proficient in the clarity of voices and effects, but still managed to sound a tad bright and tinny (mostly in the highs). A good example would be the reproduction of gunshots, which lack a realistic tone. Lastly, you should expect zero use of your subwoofer, since the LFE channel seems almost nonexistant.
Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The only extra on the disc is a theatrical trailer for the film, presented in 1080p with 2-channel audio. If the trailer is any indication of the video quality at the time of the original release, this Blu-ray might be the best this film will ever look.
Force 10 from Navarone Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If you've never seen Force 10 from Navarone, it's worth giving it a shot as a rental. It may not represent the finest Hollywood production on World War II, but it's still a lot of fun with great acting and an engaging plot. Technically, this Blu-ray edition offers little change over a standard definition release, but the accuracy in color reproduction should offer enough of an improvement to sway fans in favor of the high-definition offering. Besides, those blue cases simply look better on the shelf.
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