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HTF Blu Ray Review: U-571


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#1 of 53 Sam Posten

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Posted August 19 2008 - 04:23 PM

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Blu Ray Title: U-571
Disk Release Date: August 26, 2008
Rated: PG-13
Screen format: 1080P, 2.35:1 High Definition Widescreen
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: 21 April 2000
Previous releases on disk: Multiple, including a May 23 2006 HD DVD and an October 2000 DVD Collector’s Edition
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon bon Jovi, Jake Weber, David Keith, Matthew Settle
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French & Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Length: 1 hour, 57 Minutes (BD-25)
Subtitles: English, Spanish & French



Plot: 3.5/5

U-571 is a polarizing film because it takes significant liberties with an important period in world history in an effort to create a more rousing movie, especially for the American audiences it was primarily aimed at. In order to enjoy this film one has to employ some serious suspension of disbelief, but if that is possible for you, you will find a fun roller coaster of a popcorn-munching summer blockbuster film.

Lieutenant Andrew ‘Andy’ Tyler (McConaughey), Executive Officer (XO) of a US sub is awaiting his promotion to Commanding Officer (CO) when he receives word that this order has been denied. The only way he could have been passed over is if his ships current CO had ‘submarined’ him, and he gets word from Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren (Paxton) that he did in fact put the kibosh on it, because he feels that Andy is not ready to make the hard decisions that will put his men’s lives in jeopardy. Their next mission will prove just how right Dahlgren is and will serve as the impetus for Andy to make that leap.

As their crew is pulled from a shortened leave, they learn that they are being sent on a top secret mission, one which will require them to find a crippled German Sub (U-571) while posing as German rescuers. Once they reach U-571 they will need to recover an Enigma Code machine, which will allow the allies to break the German’s encrypted broadcasts, providing a serious upper hand. Of course things do not go as planned and Andy and Dahlgren are split up, with Andy taking charge of the crippled U-571 and taking on the charge of getting his crew back to safety without the Germans knowing that they have been tricked.

What follows is a series of cat-and-mouse encounters between U-571 and the real rescue team, requiring the Americans to remove the German’s radio capabilities and eventually incapacitate them, while having very limited resources including only one torpedo. It’s a taught and gripping tale, if a bit over the top and wrapped up just a bit too neatly, but that is exactly what one can expect from an action blockbuster such as this.

The acting is a bit hammy too, but that can be dismissed as par for the course in an action flick, but David Keith’s Major Coonan, a special ops agent, Harvey Keitel’s tough seabird “Chief” Klough, and Jon Bon Jovi’s acting debut as Lieutenant Pete Emmet are notable. In the end I was able to enjoy this film for what it is, and not get too wrapped up in its obvious and notable flaws. If one were to think of it as the naval equivalent of ‘Twister’ you’d be on the right track and if you can find enjoyment in that then I’m sure you can do so for U-571 as well.

Sound Quality: 5/5

If nothing else, U-571 has the most bass heavy soundtrack that I have ever listened too, and it is QUALITY bass at that, ranging from subtle rumbles that precede bigger events all the way to full scale explosions that literally had my whole house shaking. Loudness should be considered if one is comparing this DTS-HD MA track to the Dolby Digital Plus of the HDDVD. When normalized the apparent differences between the tracks shrink considerably but I did find the BluRay version a bit more appealing. I’ll leave it to those with more golden ears than mine to judge just how big the difference is or isn’t but I found a lot to like here.

Outside of the bass action, the surround effects are also top notch, with the stress and fear of being under constant threat of horrific drowning being punctuated by the creaking and groaning of the subs. Musically the score by Richard Marvin focuses squarely on military marches and some breezy seagoing themes, but it holds it own quite nicely in the action sequences as well.

Visual Quality: 4.5/5

Visually the film is moderately sharp and quite colorful especially when the action is not confined to the interior of a submarine. The opening sequence in a reception hall and the exterior sea battles are quite stunning. In the interior scenes the detail level is dialed back quite a bit, but still looks great. This is a high quality transfer, with no print damage tho I did spy a few occurrences of mild edge ringing, but these would only be distracting to those actively looking for them.

Extra Features: 2/5
There are only two extra features. First up is a feature length commentary with Director Jonathan Mostow, which allows him to hold court on a lot of issues around the film and his perception on the actors and action sequences. There’s a bit of dead air and could use some additional voices but overall it’s not the worst commentary I’ve heard. The other extra is a Picture in Picture U-Control experience. These sequences can be set to turn on automatically or selected scene by scene, which is not as useful as it sounds. To be fair the PiP provides some decent behind the scenes looks but the execution of it still rankles me, as do most lame interactive for the sake of interactivity features.

Overall: 4/5 (not an average)
The bottom line is that if you want to hear what your subwoofer is capable of producing you simply must own U-571 on some format. If you already own the DVD collectors edition moving to this version will result in a few missed extras, and moving from either previous version will net a full uncompressed soundtrack. Whether or not that is sufficient for a double or triple dip is going to be a hard sell. Also adding to this is the contrived (and historically inaccurate) storyline, but overall I find it a fun film and am not ashamed that I can put aside these problems and just enjoy the adventure, and the terrific booms help in that regard as well.

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#2 of 53 TonyD

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Posted August 19 2008 - 05:42 PM

Sam, i am watching/listening(moreso) to this right now.

all i can say is wow.
the sound on this disc may be the best i have heard yet.

there is no clipping, distortion or vibration or anything that would be found when listening to a movie like this loud.



this soundtrack is just smooth.
every explosion is perfect.

I have the origional dvd and the dts track on that is good.
the DD+ on the hd dvd is great
the dts-hd ma track is as good as it gets.

SVS i bow to you.


oh one more thing.
U-control Posted Image
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#3 of 53 Edwin-S

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Posted August 19 2008 - 06:37 PM

I'll eventually be picking this up. The story is completely stupid, but this flick had an amazing soundtrack for demonstrating surround effects. The depth charge attack, audiowise, is wicked.
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#4 of 53 Jari K

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Posted August 20 2008 - 12:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwin-S
The story is completely stupid, but this flick had an amazing soundtrack for demonstrating surround effects. The depth charge attack, audiowise, is wicked.

Yes, this is one of those WW2 movies that alter history, but I have to say that the audio is great. Then again, probably not enough for me to pick this up... Perhaps from the sales.

#5 of 53 TonyD

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Posted August 20 2008 - 06:34 AM

so why is the story completely stupid.
i've heard this said before and i dont see it.

is it just ecause it is't a real thing that took place during ww2?

the story is fine.
they infiltrate a nazi u-boat to steal a coding device.
something goes wrong and they have to get to a safe area before the ad guys get them.
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#6 of 53 Ron-P

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Posted August 20 2008 - 06:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
so why is the story completely stupid.
i've heard this said before and i dont see it.

is it just ecause it is't a real thing that took place during ww2?

the story is fine.
they infiltrate a nazi u-boat to steal a coding device.
something goes wrong and they have to get to a safe area before the ad guys get them.

The story is fine, some just expect historical accuracy when it comes to films like these, I'm one that's glad they don't. How boring would it be if every film stuck to being historically accurate.

Looking very forward to picking this one up, thanks for the review Sam.
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#7 of 53 MarkHarrison

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Posted August 20 2008 - 06:57 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
so why is the story completely stupid.
i've heard this said before and i dont see it.

I believe most of the controversy isn't that the story is made up. It's that it was the English who stole the Enigma device, not the Americans. But the film makers changed that little fact. So you can see how this might enrage some people, particularly the English. The movie basically steals the credit for what they did and gives it to the Americans.

#8 of 53 TonyD

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Posted August 20 2008 - 07:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHarrison
I believe most of the controversy isn't that the story is made up. It's that it was the English who stole the Enigma device, not the Americans. But the film makers changed that little fact. So you can see how this might enrage some people, particularly the English. The movie basically steals the credit for what they did and gives it to the Americans.
It does?
I thought this was just one story of a possible instance of a fictional
stealing of a coding device. Not the only time it was done.
This story was an american story. So the English stealing the device would have been another story in another movie.

was there something in the film somewhere that says it was the americans who did it and not the English.
I didn't even read the ending titles that mentioned some ww2 activity, this time. Was it mentioned there?

Still not getting the it's a stupid story.
Is that just another way to say this would never really happen in the real world?

Twister as an example.

anyway, so what, it's a super fun ride of a movie.
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#9 of 53 Sam Posten

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Posted August 20 2008 - 08:20 AM

You are preaching to the choir on this one. There is a subset of people who will howl at the inaccuracies and the 'credit' for getting the Enigma (and to be fair, I think that the BREAKING of enigma was much more important than the capture of the device, look up Bletchly Park for info on that one) but most reasonable people recognize that this is a work of fiction. The 'problem' with U-571 is that it makes it look like capturing Enigma was an all American effort which couldnt be further from the truth.

Bletchley Park - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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#10 of 53 PaulDA

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Posted August 20 2008 - 08:54 AM

My research field is mostly historical feature films (both those based on real events and those simply set in an historical setting) and while I tend to give much wider latitude than many historians, this particular film goes out of its way (intentionally or not) to distort the story. It is even MORE galling when one takes time to view the accompanying feature that relates the story which inspired the film--and it is explicit in acknowledging the British as the "originals". While Bletchley was crucial, it still required capturing machines to decode. (Enigma, by the way, is a rather good, fictional portrayal of Bletchley).

The reason this rankles so many is that it would have taken almost no effort to be more faithful to the real story that inspired the film. There are countless actual American examples of heroism in the Second World War--why steal someone else's?

Think of it this way--what do you suppose the reaction of Americans would be if someone took Patton's exploits and ascribed them to a "fictional" British general who was a thinly veiled "Monty"? The analogy is not ideal but it represents some idea of how a lot of people would feel "robbed" by such a story.
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#11 of 53 TonyD

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Posted August 20 2008 - 09:56 AM

I guess we'll disagree.
it's all fiction based on probable real events.
doesn't bother me at all.
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#12 of 53 Inspector Hammer!

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Posted August 20 2008 - 01:42 PM

I for one think that U-571 is a first rate submarine thriller with ample amounts of suspense and excitement.

Can't wait to get this, I said this in the review for the SD DVD years ago and i'll say it again here, the thought of those depth charges in DTS-HD MA makes me feel knda funny, like when we used to climb the ropes in gym class. Posted Image

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#13 of 53 PaulDA

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Posted August 20 2008 - 01:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
I guess we'll disagree.
it's all fiction based on probable real events.
doesn't bother me at all.
I can understand that viewpoint and it is one I usually share (after all, I like The Last of the Mohicans and it has all sorts of historical "continuity" issues). I also don't expect most people to be as aware of such issues (or care if they are) as I am--most people don't do what I do for a living. Enjoy.
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#14 of 53 Inspector Hammer!

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Posted August 20 2008 - 01:53 PM

My philosophy is if people can except the presence of a number of people who weren't actually onboard TITANIC in TITANIC then they should be able to except anything in history-based films lol.
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#15 of 53 CraigF

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Posted August 20 2008 - 02:22 PM

TonyD: I think you mean fiction based on ACTUAL real events. As opposed to pure fantasy. That is the problem with doing something that has a recognisable historical background or context: somebody will get upset. Hard to imagine really, that anybody thinks anything coming out of HW (in a movie or otherwise) is truth, but it takes all types... But then again, whenever HW does fantasy based on an ACTUAL fiction book, people *still* get upset... Posted Image

Inspector: IMO the only thing to respect about Titanic is the historical/accuracy parts that it gets right, which is so much and which so many don't appreciate. The attention to detail of the sets is quite amazing. OTOH, the only thing that IMO makes U-571 worthy of respect is the soundtrack. I'll buy the BD just for that.

#16 of 53 Jari K

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Posted August 20 2008 - 05:41 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Posten
I think that the BREAKING of enigma was much more important than the capture of the device, look up Bletchly Park for info on that one) but most reasonable people recognize that this is a work of fiction. The 'problem' with U-571 is that it makes it look like capturing Enigma was an all American effort which couldnt be further from the truth.

Yes, this is the main point. "U-571" is indeed just a "war adventure film". Now I highly respect the American forces (and other Allies) when it comes to WW2, but when it comes to issues dealing with Enigma, Americans played the second fiddle (we should thank British and Polish).

Films never "create history" in 100% or anything like that, but "U-571" is just damn too silly and non-historical for *my* taste. Then again - "Inglorious Bastards", bring it on! Posted Image

Btw. "Enigma (2001)" wasn´t that great either..

#17 of 53 Ron Reda

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Posted August 20 2008 - 05:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inspector Hammer!
I for one think that U-571 is a first rate submarine thriller with ample amounts of suspense and excitement.

Can't wait to get this, I said this in the review for the SD DVD years ago and i'll say it again here, the thought of those depth charges in DTS-HD MA makes me feel knda funny, like when we used to climb the ropes in gym class. Posted Image

The neighbors are going to hate me hehe. Posted Image

The gym class thing really tickled me for some reason. I feel the same way about this track. This is one of those movies that I have always enjoyed for some strange reason...it's not the acting so it's gotta be the action, the suspense and, oh yeah, the DEPTH CHARGES! When I heard this was coming, I was pretty stoked just knowing that Universal would not let one of their flagship movies go to waste and low and behold, I saw the DTS MA-HD on it and heard the angels sing. Posted Image This thing might just rupture one of my subs!!! Posted Image I'm so envious of the SVS owners out there right now...
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#18 of 53 MarkHarrison

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Posted August 21 2008 - 06:38 AM

I can understand why people get upset over this. I agree with the Patton example. That's a great way of putting it. It's fine for us to discuss the real life facts related to this movie, but 95% of the people who see this won't ever dig deep enough to know the truth. And 95% is probably being generous.

But I still love this movie. Posted Image

#19 of 53 Jari K

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Posted August 21 2008 - 07:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkHarrison
...but 95% of the people who see this won't ever dig deep enough to know the truth.

..and that´s kinda sad when you think of it. I mean in the end, all it takes is 15-30 minute in Wikipedia.. It´s not that you need to read 10 books about it. Posted Image

With every film "based on real history", I tend to dig up more information from the net, etc after the film (and yes, I´m a WW2 buff anyway). To me, it just expands the film experience, even if you find out, that the story is not always that faithful to real history.

#20 of 53 TonyD

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Posted August 21 2008 - 07:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jari K
..and that´s kinda sad when you think of it. I mean in the end, all it takes is 15-30 minute in Wikipedia.. It´s not that you need to read 10 books about it. Posted Image

With every film "based on real history", I tend to dig up more information from the net, etc after the film (and yes, I´m a WW2 buff anyway). To me, it just expands the film experience, even if you find out, that the story is not always that faithful to real history.

i just want to watch the movie and hear stuff blow up.
Not gonna spend 5 seconds on wiki to see if all this stuff really happened.
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