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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Green Zone



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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted June 21 2010 - 02:51 PM

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GREEN ZONE


Studio: Universal

Year: 2010

Length:  1 hr 55 mins

Genre: Action/Military Thriller


Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1


BD Resolution: 1080p

BD Video Codec: VC-1 (@ an average 30 mbps)

Color/B&W: Color


Audio:

English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 4.0 mbps, up to 5 mbps in the big scenes, sometimes 6.0 mpbs!)

Spanish DTS 5.1

French DTS 5.1

English DVS (Descriptive Visual Service) 2.0


Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish


Film Rating: R (Violence and Language)


Release Date: June 22, 2010


Starring:  Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Khalid Abdalla and Jason Isaacs

Written by:  Brian Helgeland

Based on the book “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

Directed by: Paul Greengrass


Film Rating:    2 ½/5


Green Zone is another recent film that ultimately adds up to a lot less than the sum of its parts.  It’s the latest collaboration between director Paul Greengrass and actor Matt Damon (The Bourne films), and like Greengrass’ earlier United 93, it is built from the headlines of recent newspapers.  Unlike United 93, however, this film is not a replay of actual events but instead is a fictional construct.  The basic plot follows Matt Damon as Roy Miller, the lead man of a military wmd team looking for stockpiles in Baghdad after the US invasion in 2003.   The team’s failure to find any wmds leads to Miller getting suspicious that the intel and its source are fraudulent.  Subsequently, he goes rogue and enlists the help of a local Iraqi man to find his answers before the people he’s looking for are silenced.  As with the last two Bourne films, Greengrass shoots the movie with a lot of handheld shaky-cam maneuvers that can leave an unprepared viewer quite dizzy.  The film certainly moves along quickly enough, and there are a lot of interesting people in the cast, working alongside real combat vets to help make the situations look more convincing.  In the end, the film is unable to cap itself with a climax that can pay off the tension that’s been building throughout.  Since the film is ostensibly based on real events, it can’t simply generate a fictional reveal, nor can it make what things we have learned any more interesting or dramatic.  This problem is coupled with a bit too much shaky cam, and a storm of grain in the exterior night photography that makes some sequences a bit difficult to watch.  So my ultimate reaction to the film is a vague sense of disappointment. 


Green Zone will be released on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow.   The Blu-ray edition holds solid high definition picture and sound transfers, along with a commentary both in audio and PIP formats, some deleted scenes with optional PIP commentary, a pair of featurettes, some additional behind-the-scenes material included in PIP form, and a digital copy of the movie on a 2nd disc.   Further Blu-ray functionality is also part of the package, including pocket BLU, social BLU, My Scenes, an online ticker and trailers, not to mention D-Box functionality. 

                                                       

VIDEO QUALITY   4/5

Green Zone is presented in a 1080p VC-1 2.40:1 transfer that features an appropriately dirty and dusty picture for something realistically set in the middle of 2003 Iraq.  The only place where the details start to become unclear is in the exterior night photography, which is quite grainy and noisy.  I believe this to be an intentional effect, and for this reason, I have kept the quality rating higher, but it’s still quite distracting.   I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.



AUDIO QUALITY   5/5

Green Zone is presented in a superb English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, along with standard DTS 5.1 mixes in French and Spanish.  There is also an English Descriptive Visual Service track available.   This is the second time I have given a rating this high for sound, and this Blu-ray absolutely earns it.  From the directionality used throughout the movie to the layers of atmosphere that surround the viewer, this mix is a lot of fun to hear.  The rear speakers are constantly active with atmospheric sound as well as the film’s score.  A late helicopter sequence is a showstopper, as the sounds move through all the appropriate speakers with a real sense of aggression.  And yes, the subwoofer has plenty to do here, particularly once the combat sequences get going…


SPECIAL FEATURES      3 ½/5

The Blu-Ray presentation of Green Zone comes with the usual BD-Live connectivity and My Scenes functionality, as well as pocket BLU, social BLU, and D-Box functionality.   To this is added an armload of extras, including some deleted scenes, two featurettes, an audio/video commentary, and some behind-the-scenes PIP U-Control material.  A disc with a Digital Copy is also included in the packaging.  



U-Control Video Commentary with Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon – Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass watch the movie with you, and Greengrass provides a considerable amount of insight into his choices and production issues throughout the talk.  You can watch them in PIP under this function, or you can choose to just have their commentary in audio format.


Behind-the-Scenes PIP Materials – Various chapters of the film include behind-the-scenes material not included in the official two featurettes on this disc.  There’s some great stuff here, including a section of praise for 1st Assistant Director Chris Carreras.


Deleted Scenes – (12:27 Total, 1080p)  Several deleted scenes are included here, in high definition, including an alternate introduction for Greg Kinnear’s character and a fictionalized version of Ahmed Chalabi.  There’s nothing really crucial here, but it’s fun to watch the scenes with the optional PIP commentary by Damon, Greengrass and Greengrass’ young son.


Matt Damon: Ready for Action – (9:47, 1080i)  This featurette focuses on Matt Damon and his work to fit in with the real combat vets who were brought in to be his on-screen team in the movie.  Most of the featurette consists of mutual compliments between Damon and the guys, with various bits of film footage and on-set video thrown in.


Inside the Green Zone – (8:53, 1080i)  This featurette is more of a generalized making-of piece, more or less skimming the surface of what the filmmakers were thinking in making the film.  There’s not a lot here, likely due to a lot of material being saved for the above-mentioned PIP materials.

BD-Live - The more general BD-Live screen is accessible via the menu, which makes various online materials available, including tickers, trailers and special events. 


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


pocket BLU and social BLU – The latest Blu-ray features of phone apps and social networking are included here for viewers with the right iPhones, Blackberries and other current hardware.


My Scenes - The usual bookmarking feature is included here.


D-Box – D-Box functionality is included for viewers who have this capability in their home theater.


Digital Copy – A digital copy of the film is included on a second disc in the packaging.


The usual promotional ticker is present on the main menu, but can be toggled off at your discretion. The film is subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu.  Further, when you first put the Blu-ray in the player, several trailers will load from BD-Live, which you can get past by hitting the “Next Chapter” button. 


IN THE END...

Green Zone is a film that I truly wanted to enjoy more than I did.  The Blu-ray is graced with great picture, terrific sound, and a generous extras package, but the film itself simply doesn’t add up to much.  It can’t provide a big finish for its story since it’s not completely fictional, and yet this kind of thriller gets badly deflated when the final act lacks that ingredient.  Fans of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass will likely want to rent this before purchasing, just to see if they like the film, and to at least be able to sample the extras.


Kevin Koster

June 21, 2010.

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#2 of 2 OFFLINE   Southpaw

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Posted June 22 2010 - 09:01 AM

Spot on review. Well done.

I might have liked the movie slightly better than you did. It was non-stop action from bell to bell. I do agree though that the ending was a bit anti-climactic. But it was a fun ride.

Your A/V assessment was perfect in my opinion. The audio was first rate, one of the best soundtracks I've heard on blu-ray yet. The vérité style that Greengrass employs doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I rather like it for material like this.

I'm tackling the bonus material now but no regrets here on this blind buy.