1. Guest,
    If you need help getting to know Xenforo, please see our guide here. If you have feedback or questions, please post those here.
    Dismiss Notice

Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Thin Red Line (1998)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Sep 26, 2010.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    13,631
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template

     

    The Thin Red Line (1998) (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Terrence Malick

    Studio: Criterion
    Year: 1998
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 171 minutes
    Rating: R
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
    Subtitles: SDH

    Region: A

    MSRP:  $ 39.95
     


    Release Date: September 28, 2010

    Review Date:  September 26, 2010

     

     

    The Film

    4.5/5

     

    A World War II film that’s more a meditation on life and death than it is a gung-ho action movie? Yes, that’s Terrence Malick’s unforgettable war movie-as-tone poem The Thin Red Line. There are the expected blood and guts action sequences to be sure, but clearly the thoughtful Malick had more on his mind than merely picturing the many facets of men at war. The film achieves great moments of heroism and cowardice, barbarism and humanity, apprehension and peacefulness, all within a period of less than three hours. The movie had the misfortune to premiere during the same year as Steven Spielberg’s wildly celebrated Saving Private Ryan, but The Thin Red Line has a completely different vibe from Spielberg’s blockbuster, and perhaps its tendency to peruse the human condition and see war as merely one cog in the mainspring of the cosmos caused a majority of the public not to embrace it. Though it scored seven Oscar nominations, it went home empty handed on Oscar night. (Terrence Malick did win the New York Film Critics Circle Best Director award, a well deserved honor.)

     

    Eager to capture the pivotal Guadalcanal region of the South Pacific from the Japanese who have established a nearly impenetrable fortress there, a squadron of soldiers led by Lt. Col. Gordon Tall (Nick Nolte) take amazing risks to overtake the Japanese who have several heavily fortified, high ranged bunkers from which to attack their enemy. Though Capt. James Staros (Elias Koteas) disputes Tall’s orders to attack head-on and advises a flank maneuver that might save the lives of his company, the Japanese make a couple of key mistakes that allow the Americans to gain the advantage and successfully win the favored position, routing the Japanese along the way. Meanwhile, the peace-loving Pvt. Witt (Jim Caviezel), the doggedly determined Sgt. Edward Welsh (Sean Penn), the lovesick Pvt. Bell (Ben Chaplin), and the deranged Sgt. McCron (John Savage) offer both their bodies and their souls for thoughtful consideration as the war marches on.

     

    Terrence Malick has adapted James Jones’ heavy novel into this philosophical treatise on matters of wartime life and death, and the stream of consciousness thoughts by various characters during the film’s running time are usually quite moving in their simple poetic insights, but occasionally they can border on pretentiousness, especially when the sensitivity expressed in some of the ideas seems ill-fitting to certain characters (Nolte’s gung-ho colonel who’s finally got himself a war to fight is a good example). As always with his films, the images are ravishing, as mesmerizing as anything in Badlands  or Days of Heaven and a constant source of admiration as we watch these gorgeous natural wonders utterly destroyed by man’s violence and aggression. As absorbing as the forward motion of the troops is toward achieving their objective, it’s sometimes slightly off-putting to be sidetracked by outside matters (the letter to Bell from his wife (Miranda Otto), while interesting dramatically, definitely deflates the gathering momentum of the storytelling) or the unnecessary cameo appearances by certain stars whose roles aren’t important enough to sustain their pop-ups for a few brief minutes (John Travolta and George Clooney are the biggest offenders here). On the other hand, seeing the film again after being away from it for so many years reveals several actors in small roles who have made major careers for themselves after their work in this movie (Thomas Jane, John C. Reilly, Adrien Brody).

     

    Nick Nolte, John Cusak (as a replacement captain), Woody Harrelson (as a soldier who makes a costly blunder), and Sean Penn all make the most of their on-screen and narrative opportunities, especially since Malick’s screenplay doesn’t really allow for character building arcs as in traditional narrative films. Even more impressive are Jim Caviezel as the pacifist private who does his duty with smiling, resigned determination and especially Elias Koteas whose Captain Staros, more interested in the lives of his men than in recklessly playing army with them as easy targets, remains in the mind through the entire picture, quite an achievement since he’s mostly absent from the last hour of the movie.

     

     

    Video Quality

    5/5

     

    The film has been framed at 2.35:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. This is one of the most natural-appearing high definition pictures currently available on Blu-ray.  Colors are beautifully saturated without ever taking on cartoonish over saturation qualities, and contrast has not been overly heightened. Detail is quite impressive here (you can count the feathers on an owl and injuries in close-up are very realistic), and flesh tones are completely natural and appealing. Black levels which are a shade less than optimum on the DVD are better rendered here, and a tiny colored scratch which runs down the left side of frame late in the film does not distract. The film has been divided into 23 chapters.

     

     

    Audio Quality

    5/5

     

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix gives the amazingly immersive sound design a beautiful plane on which to exist. The battle scenes are as alive and explosive as one would expect (you’ll thrill to the numerous pans through the soundfield as planes fly overhead, bullets zip by, or as bombs are launched), and quieter scenes are no less impressive with Hans Zimmer’s score spreading movingly throughout the fronts and rears but never overpoweringly so. The expressive use of the LFE channel, low and rumbling with deep bass during the war sequences and a more subtle usage during scenes of great tension, is also notably splendid.

     

     

    Special Features

    5/5

     

    The audio commentary is contributed by production designer Jack Fiske, cinematographer John Toll, and producer Grant Hill who talk consistently throughout the film telling anecdotes about working with Malick and, though not a very animated conversation, certainly one worth hearing especially for fans of the movie.

     

    A featurette featuring interviews with various actors from the film runs for 33 ½ minutes in 1080p. Those participating are Kirk Acevedo, Jim Caviezel, Thomas Jane, Elias Koteas, Sean Penn, and Dash Mihok.

     

    “Casting” is discussed by casting director Dianne Crittenden in this 18-minute 1080p featurette. Among the screen tests offered are Ben Chaplin, Thomas Jane, Tim Blake Nelson, Elias Koteas, Dash Mihok, John Savage, and Nick Stahl. (Interesting are glimpses of people who didn’t get cast like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Crispen Glover, Neil Patrick Harris, and Johnny Galecki).

     

    The film’s three film editors discuss their process of fashioning over a million feet of footage into a finished movie and working with the enigmatic Malick. The 27 ¼-minute featurette filmed in 2010 is presented in 1080p.

     

    Composer Hans Zimmer discusses his challenging working relationship with director Malick in a 2010 interview which runs for 16 ½ minutes and is presented in 1080p.

     

    There are eight outtakes which run for 13 ½ minutes and presented in 1080p. They may also be viewed separately by selecting them from an index.

     

    Kaylie Jones, the daughter of original novelist James Jones, discusses her impressions of the period of history which the book deals with and her father’s war experiences in this 2010 featurette which runs 19 minutes and is in 1080p.

     

    There are five period newsreels dealing with the capturing of Guadalcanal which can be viewed separately or together in 15 ¼ minutes. They’re rendered in 1080p

     

    There is 6 ¾ minutes of Melanesian chants which were recorded in 1997 to be used in part of the scoring of the movie. Stills from the film illustrate the music.

     

    The film’s theatrical trailer is presented in 1080p and runs 2 ¾  minutes.

     

    The enclosed 38-page booklet contains cast and crew lists, the chapter listing, some expressive stills from the movie, a celebratory essay on the movie by film critic David Sterritt, and a very interesting critical essay by author James Jones about the phoniness of Hollywood war films written in 1963 for The Saturday Evening Post.

     

    The Criterion Blu-rays include a maneuvering tool called “Timeline” which can be pulled up from the menu or by pushing the red button on the remote. It shows you your progress on the disc, the title of the chapter you’re now in, and index markers for the commentary that goes along with the film, all of which can be switched on the fly. Additionally, two other buttons on the remote can place or remove bookmarks if you decide to stop viewing before reaching the end of the film or want to mark specific places for later reference.

     

     

    In Conclusion

    5/5 (not an average)

     

    One of the most unusual war films ever produced, The Thin Red Line is also one of the most memorable films ever made about the brotherhood of combat, the prizing of life, and the waste of war. This Criterion Blu-ray package offers terrific picture and sound and a host of interesting and well produced special features. It comes with the highest recommendation!

     

     

     

    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    8,179
    Likes Received:
    373
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    Thanks, Matt. The challenge will be finding this title at a BB tomorrow, but I can't wait to see it again. It has been quite a while.
     
  3. JonZ

    JonZ Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 1998
    Messages:
    7,794
    Likes Received:
    7
    My Best Buy did have this in stock. 2 copies.....under C for Criterion. Boneheads. I almost didnt find it.
     
  4. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    8,179
    Likes Received:
    373
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    Two stores, both failures. Both indicated it was available for in-store pickup. I drove to one, and they looked, but no luck. I then purchased it for "In-Store" pickup at another local BB, and got the e-mail later that it was "unavailable". Then the phone line jerked me around a while. So now I am pissed. I obviously can't trust the website for who has it "in-store".

     

    FU BB,

    Chuck
     
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 1997
    Messages:
    10,337
    Likes Received:
    562
    Got lucky at my Best Buy. It wasn't on the shelves, but I saw an employee working off of a book-truck full of DVDs and BDs. I walked over there and saw 2 copies of TRL lying on its side (lucklily with the spine label facing up) and got one.

     

    Last week I couldn't find Charade at another BB even though the in-store computer said they had six. I even had a guy check "in the back" and he couldn't find them. Basically, if it's not Iron Man 2 they are clueless...
     
  6. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    8,179
    Likes Received:
    373
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    None of the several Borders or Barnes and Noble have them, and another BB I called (that the website indicated it was in stock) checked the floor and said no.

     

    But I guess living in the boonies doesn't help. Oh wait, I live 5 minutes outside of Washington, DC.

     

    Anyways, off to Amazon, I suppose. Very frustrating.
     
  7. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2000
    Messages:
    5,927
    Likes Received:
    273
    Interesting that some people are having difficulties finding in-store copies. The local FutureShop (owned by BB in Canada) in my town had four or five copies on the shelf. In BC, where I live is considered "the boonies". Unfortunately, it was C$ 35.00. After addition of HST, the total would have been 39.20. I had to leave it on the shelf, because it's just too expensive. Too bad, because I really would have liked to see the cinematography of this film on BD. In the store, the guy I talked to said the PQ on the disc is incredible. Hope, I can find a rental copy and check it out.
     
  8. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    8,179
    Likes Received:
    373
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    I signed up for a free month of Amazon Prime and ordered TTRL. Kudos to Amazon, because it arrived today. I only managed to watch a little of the extras and the first 20 minutes of the film. Absolutely gorgeous PQ. I will give the whole film a spin pretty shortly, but man does it look great (both the A/V and the stunning cinematography). Maybe Criterion will get Badlands and The New World (which already has a nice BR) and make my year.
     
  9. BobLAR

    BobLAR Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Did anyone else have an odor problem with the booklet inside? I have plenty of Criterion, and none of them smell like the Thin Red Line booklet.

    It's like the ink they used was bad or something. Stunk up my whole room. Just wondering if anyone else smelled the same thing?
     
  10. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Messages:
    1,848
    Likes Received:
    189


    Bob,


    I noticed that the booklet had an odd smell to it, too. I didn't find it offensive (like the stinky Anchor Bay BOOK OF THE DEAD), but the book definitely had a bit of an odd scent to it.


    Beyond that, this is a terrific Blu-ray. The 14-minutes of deleted scenes had me wishing there were even more available to view.


    Vincent
     
  11. BobLAR

    BobLAR Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2006
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Vincent

    Thanks for confirming the odor. This is a great Criterion Blu-ray. The extras are great. The one tidbit I found fascinating is that Malick would sometimes have the actors do the scene as written, with dialogue, and then later that day, do the same scene again, but this time with no dialogue. Then in post, he would, or could, use a combination of both. That's genius.
     
  12. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,463
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    South Florida
    Yeah, same here re: the smell. Some years ago, the Straw Dogs Criterion DVD set booklet had a similar smell upon initial release. These things are fresh off the press, I guess...
     
  13. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    13,631
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
    This Blu-ray release will be offered tonight in the Amazon Gold Box Instant Deal section at 9 p.m. EST (6 p.m. PST).
     
  14. Cinescott

    Cinescott Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    846
    Likes Received:
    161
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Real Name:
    Scott
    Just watched this title for the first time as part of Barnes and Nobles' 50% off sale and Wow. Just Wow. "The Thin Red Line" has to be one of the best war movies I have ever seen; I can't believe I have never seen this title before.


    The Blu-ray just shot up near the top of my list in quality and content. The photography in this film is absolutely gorgeous! The cast is superb too. I can't wait to listen to the commentary by the DP and hear about how this thing was shot; it ought to be very interesting.

    For $16.99 after coupon, "The Thin Red Line" is some of the best Blu-ray money I have ever spent.
     

Share This Page