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The world's three best pilots are partnered with a state-of-the-art, fully-automated, pilotless, super stealth warplane - inhuman and invincible. But once in the air, it goes haywire, leaving them with one final mission - bring it down.
For more about Stealth and the Stealth Blu-ray release, see Stealth Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 18, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Josh Lucas, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Sam Shepard, Joe Morton, Richard Roxburgh
Director: Rob Cohen
» See full cast & crew
Stealth Blu-ray Review
Should 'Stealth' be on your Blu-ray radar?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 18, 2008
It's got no heart but it sure can fly.
Ah, to be a ten-year-old boy again. Underage to see this movie, yes, but that never stopped me (or the theater's ticket-takers or the video store clerks, for that matter) from seeing those oh-so-scary PG-13 and even (gasp!) R-rated films. I grew up on the likes of Aliens, The Terminator, and RoboCop. I also enjoyed pretty much anything and everything that could be construed as futuristic Sci-Fi (did I ever love Jean-Claude Van Damme's Cyborg!), especially if it had lots of firepower behind it (ever see the B-movie called A.P.E.X.? It was a bit after my pre-teen "glory years" of movie-loving wonderment, but it fits the mold of those ridiculous Sci-Fi actioners I liked to a "T"). Jet fighters were another favorite of mine; I collected many of the old die-cast ERTL jets and helicopters, and forever proclaimed Iron Eagle ever-so-slightly superior to Top Gun. The point of all this is that, had Stealth been released about 16 or 17 years earlier, or were I 16 or 17 years younger now, this is a movie I would have absolutely adored. I'm still inclined to enjoy mindless action flicks like this one (as some despise me for), but reality, maturity, and the experience of having seen countless other movies over my years leads me to the sad conclusion that Stealth is "the bomb," but not in the modernized, positive version of the word. It is a bomb in the traditional sense of a cinematic flop -- in this case a terrible extravaganza of loud noise and hyperactive edits with a haphazard plot so full of holes it may as well have been machine gunned by the movie's fighter jets.
In the near future, a new aerial weapon has been designed to kill terrorists. 400 of the finest U.S. Naval aviators applied to be the first to pilot these new fighters, and as luck would have it, Hollywood stars Jamie Fox (Miami Vice), Jessica Biel (Next), and Josh Lucas (Glory Road) were chosen. After an impressive first training mission, this trio is informed that they have been assigned to the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln where they will be joined by a fourth wingman, much to the chagrin of the pilots, because, well, four isn't a prime number. All aviators have their various superstitions, I suppose. Arriving on the Lincoln, the Musketeers learn that their new wingman is actually the "future of digital warfare," one that for both the benefit of the three pilots and the audience is described in terms of high tech mumbo jumbo that may or may not really mean anything. In layman's terms, it's an "Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle," or UCAV for short. Their first training mission as a quartet turns decidedly real when American intel learns that a few terrorists planning an imminent attack on U.S. soil are meeting in a hardened building in Rangoon, Myanmar. After successfully completing a mission against the terrorists, the UCAV is struck by lightning and begins to develop a heightened awareness, a deeper artificial intelligence, and an itchy trigger finger (which is always fun). Our trio of Hollywood Hotties must Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast™ the latest and greatest in Military Technology gone haywire once again.
One problem I had with Stealth was that I couldn't tell what in the heck was going on part of the time. I don't think I've ever seen so many breakneck edits, split-second shots, lightening-quick glimpses of dogfights from odd angles, random zooms, and shaky camera movements as I did here. If Stealth were not a movie, it would probably be the annual winner of the hotdog eating contest. Olympic Sprinters, speed skaters, and other "blink-and-you-miss-them" athletes are far too graceful a comparison. The sloppiness that is shoving one soaking wet hotdog after another into your mouth in rapid succession is a much more apropos description of what Stealth is like. Unfortunately, these quick, sloppy edits that come at you so fast they may as well have gone plaid don't translate to a well-paced film. No, Stealth allows us to wallow in misery for nearly two whole hours, which is probably about 35 minutes more than a movie like this really needs. Sadly, the film isn't saved by its stars, either. Jessica Biel as the future of the U.S. Navy? That's about as plausible as Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. Jamie Foxx and Josh Lucas may as well be invisible, but the movie is graced by a halfway passable performance from Sam Shepard who plays in a role that is similar to that he performed in Black Hawk Down. Joe Morton (Terminator 2) is probably the best of the bunch in his brief on-screen appearances. Stealth earns a couple of points for trying, mostly by throwing countless explosions and enough bass to kill your subwoofer at the audience, but bangs and booms can only replace story and heart for so long before the movie becomes another forgettable action time-waster, which, sadly, Stleath is, and it's not even a good one of those.
Stealth Blu-ray, Video Quality
Stealth emerges onto your Blu-ray radar screen with a fairly good 1080p, 2.40:1 transfer. This isn't the best transfer I've seen, but it's in the upper echelon, and considering it's status as a very early Blu-ray release, it's remarkably good. Some of the non-action sequences, like a discussion between the Lucas and Biel characters in her quarters on the Lincoln, have a soft and dull appearance to them with little attention to detail. The film's effects are slick and look good, but they never manage to look quite as impressive as they sound. In most other shots, detail is very good, especially when the camera slows down enough for us to see the planes, their cockpits, pilots, and various special effects during the action sequences. Colors are rich and everything looks terrific, especially the bright blue skies above and the earthy-colored ground below. Later in the movie, the dense forrest of what in this film is supposed to be North Korea truly shines; the canopy looks great from above, and wonderful, natural detail is to be seen below it in tree trunks and various naturally occurring elements on the ground. The many explosions seen throughout Stealth stand out as excellent with fine depth, even if some of them have an obvious CGI appearance. Even some of the film's less-than-stellar special effects manage to look good. One that jumps to mind is a CGI shot inside the guts of a plane showing audiences a rupture in a line just before it blows. Black levels are solid. In fact, I never took note of them one way or the other, which is always a good sign. The same can be said of flesh tones. As an oddity, my screen went blank for a good 5 seconds around the 1:03:25 time mark. On the whole, Stealth looks just fine. Fans of the movie will likely be impressed with the visible detail, great colors, and fair amount of depth exhibited by this image.
Stealth Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Stealth never vanishes from Blu-ray, sonically. Boasting perhaps the most active and loudest PCM 5.1 uncompressed mix yet, this disc is sure to put even the staunchest systems and their listeners to the test. If you like your soundtracks loud, raucous, crazy, and extremely active, you need to purchase Stealth right now -- go ahead, click on our Amazon link above. I'll be here when you get back. You should own Stealth on Blu-ray just to wow your friends, family, and that Doubting Thomas you know who still cannot hear the benefit of Blu-ray or lossless audio. Not only is this track loud, but it manages to maintain a crispness and distinctness throughout. Never do sounds become overly harsh, undefined, or sloppy. The audio is tight and concise, and still very, very loud. Surround channels are used nearly nonstop as every action sequence features a wide array of sonic excitement. You will experience jet fighters flying straight through your room; missiles will launch and explode onto their targets with deadly precision and foundation-shaking bass; machine guns and AAA (anti-aircraft artillery) rounds will emanate from the ground. In short, Stealth is a sonic delight for anyone who enjoys the sounds of war, or just wants to put their high dollar system through its paces. Such listeners will find themselves grinning ear-to-ear after the credits roll on this movie, even if they found the movie itself to be a bad one.
On the more bland side of things, this disc still manages to impress. Dialogue reproduction is spot-on perfect. A night club sequence in chapter two sounds as good as one would expect after the sonic assault that was the trio's training mission at the beginning of the film. The sound is loud but clear, with an excellent rear channel presence and a legitimate, realistic feel. The film's score is also exciting and powerful, and a perfect fit for the film. As jets land on an aircraft carrier, the jet engine noise and the touchdown of wheels to flight deck is amazing to hear, as is the power of a shot where an aircraft carrier plows its way through the ocean with a power that only such a ship (and the best of audio systems!) could produce. Stealth offers quite the soundtrack overall, from the most deafening of combat sequences to the simple atmosphere of lunch at a crowded outdoor Thai café, there is never a dull moment in this wonderful uncompressed soundtrack.
Stealth Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
For a special effects-filled extravaganza, one might reasonably assume that the Blu-ray edition of Stealth would land with several extra features. Alas, such is not the case, and this early Blu-ray release from Sony comes with only an Introduction to Blu-ray with 'Stealth' Director Rob Cohen (1080p, 3:56). The title is a bit misleading as we see some shots of what I can only assume is the premiere of Stealth, a few clips from the film, and some random shots of surfers, battleships, and the like. Hey, at least it's in high definition. This disc's main menu screen is also one of the "cooler" ones I've seen, putting the viewer into the cockpit of a fighter as it soars and pans through the sky with some of the movie's exciting B-movie action music playing over it.
Stealth Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I cannot get the image of Peter Gibbons telling the Bobs that he "just [doesn't] care" out of my mind (that's from the 1999 comedy Office Space if you don't know, and may I suggest renting that instead of Stealth). I feel the same way about this movie. After the first act, I found I had absolutely no cheering interest in the characters, the story, anything, except in cheering on the counter on the front of my BD-30 to inch ever-so-closer to that magical point in the movie where black background meets scrolling white text. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised I didn't enjoy the movie more; it's plot once was, and mostly still is, right up my alley, but the execution from Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, Dragonheart, The Fast and the Furious), a director whose work I generally enjoy, completely ruined the movie for me. Aerial dogfights can be a thing of beauty (just watch the recently released Battle of Britain or even Star Wars: Episode IV), but in Stealth, they become a haphazard jumble of flashes and blurs that never allow the audience to truly focus on what's going on. If you're looking for Top Gun meets 2001 meets Short Circuit meets Behind Enemy Lines, you still may want to look elsewhere (or just watch those four movies instead if time permits), even though Stealth borrows the main themes or premises of each of those films. As usual, however, Sony has released a first-rate disc sans supplements. With a solid video quality and mind-boggling audio experience, this Blu-ray disc may very well worth be adding to your collection if for no other reason than for audio demonstration purposes.
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