HTF REVIEW: "Behind Enemy Lines" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Mar 26, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Behind Enemy Lines

    "Use your training. Use your head. Evade
    and survive, and we will bring you home"

    My definition of a popcorn flick: A film
    that is so unplausibly realistic, but yet
    so highly entertaining thanks to its visual
    Behind Enemy Line fits the mold perfectly
    as a defined popcorn flick. It has just about
    every cliched moment that you have seen from
    any other action film, and you would swear that
    Director John Moore graduated with top honors
    from the Jerry Bruckheimer school of filmmaking.
    Not that this is a bad thing. Accept the fact
    that this story is "loosely" based on a real-life
    incident with a lot of room for embellishment,
    and you are in store for one of the most
    entertaining popcorn flicks since Armageddon.
    Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) is a US
    naval pilot who's bored of watching the Bosnian
    War from the air. On a Christmas day, he and
    his partner fly off from the USS CARL VINSON air
    carrier into a no-fly zone area where they discover
    some renegade Serb forces violating a fragile
    peace treaty. The crew sees something they aren't
    intended to see. Once discovered, the U.S. pilots
    are fired upon and the plane goes down.
    Meanwhile, back on the air-carrier, Admiral
    Reigart (Gene Hackman), is ready to send the
    troops in to rescue Burnett. However, NATO wants
    Reigart to sit on his hands so that the fragile
    peace deal does not get disrupted. This political
    standoff leaves Burnett all alone with no help.
    From hereon, the movie becomes one big cat
    and mouse chase as Serbs hunt down the American
    pilot. It's basically Owen Wilson running towards
    a goal or away from the Serbs hunting him down.
    Fortunately, the movie is filled with the kind
    of extravaganza only Hollywood could bring to this
    story. There are some absolutely incredible action
    sequences -- one of which involves a missile that
    is shot at and ensues the American plane in a
    heart-stopping chase. In fact, most of the action
    in this film is over-the-edge high testosterone-filled
    sequences with sweeping music, Ridley Scott jagged
    cuts and supplemented with slow-motion shots.
    Alas, a popcorn movie done very well!
    How is the transfer?
    This 16X9 enhanced widescreen (2.35:1) transfer
    could almost be called perfect. But there are
    a few noticeable problems.
    Most of the film is just stunning to look at.
    The picture quality is gorgeous. The film is
    full of deep blue colors and stunningly crisp
    blacks. Both these colors dominate the film
    and I was just amazed how well these colors
    come off. I have always been told that a DVD
    transfer done right should show off the blackest
    of blacks, and that is what is represented here.
    The problem is that there are several shots
    in this movie that just look horrible. All of
    them begin as day shots aboard the air-carrier
    where the backdrop of blue sky is filled with
    video noise. Later on, during the film's finale
    set against an angelic statue, the video noise is
    even more evident in several of the shots. Though
    these shots only comprise about 10 minutes of
    the film's total length, they are noticeable enough
    to make you wonder what is going on when the rest
    of the film looks so beautiful.
    Fortunately, the 5.1 DTS mix is perfect. This
    is a film to crank up and test the limits of
    your system. The demo-quality mix is very
    aggressive during the entire length of the film
    from the action sequences where bullets fly
    through every channel -- to the quietest scenes where
    the sound of wind can be heard in the background.
    Sound is such an important element of this
    film and I was held captive to my couch during
    the missile-chase sequence where the room just
    came alive with heart-pounding sound and roaring
    bass from my SV SUBWOOFER.
    Certainly one of the most memorable sonic
    experiences I have had in my home.
    Special Features
    Once you pop in the disc, you are treated
    to a very short opening sequence which begins
    with quick clips from the film supplemented by
    elevated patriotic music, before ending with
    the Main Menu. The white vertical lines you
    see are part of the menu animation, and I am
    uncertain of their meaning.
    There are two full-length audio commentaries
    on this disc. The first is with Director
    John Moore and Editor Paul Martin Smith. The
    second is with Producers John Davis and
    Wyck Godfrey.
    Behind the scenes is an extremely too
    short 6-minute featurette that doesn't hesitate
    to promise this film boasts military authenticity
    rarely before seen on film, thanks to the
    cooperation of the U.S. Department of Defense.
    Several advisors from the Navy and Marine Corps
    were on hand to overlook production to make
    sure that scenes are handled with military
    accuracy. With only 11 people allowed on board
    the USS CONSTELLATION, the film's action sequences
    had to be shot documentary style. It was on board
    the USS CARL VINSON that the larger-scale principle
    cast scenes were filmed. Director John Moore talks
    about the extremely dangerous conditions the crew
    was working under aboard the aircraft carrier.
    There was such emphasis put into making this film
    as extremely realistic as possible -- especially
    in the ship's instrumentation. We are taken to
    Naval Weapons Test Squadron at POINT MUGU where
    Owen gets suited up and placed on a real plane
    as he goes through combat maneuvers. The
    featurette ends very abruptly without really
    giving the audience much insight into the filming
    process. I sort of feel cheated.
    One of the most beautiful pieces of film that
    Director John Moore ever shot was a title
    sequence that had to be left out. Such is how
    begins. Four EXTENDED scenes are
    presented in addition to the alternate title
    sequence. They include...
    * Take Off: a bag of film rushes that are
    montages of planes prepping and taking off
    from the aircraft carrier.
    * Mass Grave: Is a vastly more graphic look
    at the graveyard of bodies that Burnett falls into.
    * Hac: A more realistic and graphic cut of
    the executions that take place in the city.
    * Killing of the tracker: An extended sequence
    at the film's finale involving the tracker homing
    in on Burnett.
    Many of these scenes are very graphic in nature
    and are against the film's PG-13 rating. Watch
    with caution, and watch with the accompanying
    dialogue of Director John Moore and Editor Paul
    Martin Smith.
    There are two Deleted Scenes that include:
    * Original End Credit Sequence which is very
    interesting to watch as it wraps up the film
    in a very different way. Two stories are
    happening at once thanks to the split-screen
    that is used. I won't ruin it for you.
    * Reigert is relieved of his duties: We are
    taken back to California where an Admiral tells
    Reigert (Hackman) his final fate for breaking
    chain of command. Because of the pacing of the
    scene, I can understand why it was left out.
    It took five weeks and seven people to create
    and shoot the Pre-Vis Ejection Sequence
    that becomes the most memorable moment of the
    film. Using original storyboard drawings as
    well as computer and live animation, we get a
    complete overview of how this sequence was
    put together. I recommend watching it with the
    aid of commentary by Director John Moore and
    Editor Paul Martin Smith.
    What I fail to understand is why the film's
    original theatrical trailer was not included.
    Since when does Fox released DVDs without
    their own trailer?
    Perhaps this will make up for it...
    Go Fox! As an extra added bonus, the studio
    has included a trailer for Steven Spielberg's
    anticipated Summer blockbuster, Minority Report,
    starring Tom Cruise. It's a short trailer
    lasting just over a minute, but it looks just
    Final Thoughts
    Despite the fact that Behind Enemy Lines
    is larger-than-life, I found myself having the
    time of my life with it. It's one of those films
    that quickly becomes a crowd-pleasing favorite
    because it offers adrenaline-pumping escapism.
    It's a sonic and visual treat that you'll find
    yourself revisiting time and time again.
    This will be the DVD most talked about for
    the weeks following its release. You can feel
    safe about buying it blindly.
    Release Date: April 23, 2002
  2. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

    Mar 19, 2001
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  3. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

    Jan 18, 2001
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    The jury is still out on this flick. I saw it in the theater and remember having a lukewarm reaction to it. It was a good popcorn movie, but it just asked me to suspend my disbelief a little too much. I'll have to see it again first...
  4. AaronMK

    AaronMK Supporting Actor

    Oct 30, 1999
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    Orlando, FL
    Real Name:
    Aaron Karp
  5. Aryn Leroux

    Aryn Leroux Screenwriter

    Aug 19, 2001
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    I enjoy a good popcorn movie from time to time. But Behind enemy lines falls in with the trash like armageddon. The inmature hot dog hero saves the day bah. Skip This and go with the good version of this same material. It is called No Man's Land which just won an oscar for best foreign film.
  6. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
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    I like Armageddon! Sure, it may not be Oscar material but it's sure fun to watch. I also plan to pick up Behind Enemy Lines and enjoy it for what it entertaining, totally unrealistic, carnage-filled, flag-waving extravaganza just like Armageddon and ID4 before it. Oh, and thanks Ron for the review....this clinches the purchase for me.[​IMG]
  7. Daniel Mai

    Daniel Mai Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 2, 2001
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    OH man, it's gonna be a loooong 4 weeks until it's release.[​IMG]
  8. Travis D

    Travis D Second Unit

    Feb 15, 2001
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    Wasn't Owen Wilson nominated for "Best Running" in this? Can't remember where I heard that. [​IMG]
  9. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

    Apr 8, 1999
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    Real Name:
    David Scarpa
    Best Running inthe open I might Add, always good to do when an Enemy Force is after you run across a wide openfield. Stupid.
  10. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Dec 4, 1999
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    On the quality of the actual film, it's abysmal IMO

    Not only is the hero an idiot, and completely dead about 2 dozen times over, but it's been a long time since I've seen such a rah-rah, America is great, everyone else is stupid movie. I walked out of the theater wanting to puke. I hadn't felt that way since the nauseating end to "Volcano" where the little kid goes "look! They're all the same!"

    Just my opinion
  11. Neil S. Bulk

    Neil S. Bulk Screenwriter

    Sep 13, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Neil S. Bulk
    I didn't feel quite as bad as Jeff. First of all he warned me about it being awful (he's right, it is) but also I got to see it for free, which is good, because I would been depressed if I'd paid to have seen it.

  12. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

    Jul 23, 2001
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    Excellent review Ron, and I'm happy to hear that for the most part, this DVD doesn't disappoint. I saw this flick in the theater and enjoyed it greatly as a popcorn flick, just as you suggest it should be enjoyed.
    I'll definitely be picking this one up.
    No trailer? Very strange and a bummer - it's the one "extra" I consistently want on my DVDs. [​IMG]
  13. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    The recommendation to buy it blindly is
    solely based on your appetite for popcorn.
    I never hid the fact that this film is
    highly unrealistic and only worth purchasing
    based upon its entertainment value.
    It's a hyperactive visual and sonic experience.
    Some of us enjoy mindless entertainment that's
    taken to the "nth" degree. If you are one of
    those, this is the disc to buy.
    Oh and, Aaron.....
    Your theory about why the transfer quality
    suffers could very well be right, except
    for the fact that there are several land shots
    that look just as bad -- especially near the
    film's finale.
  14. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

    Apr 19, 2000
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  15. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

    Dec 14, 2000
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    Well I liked this one in the theaters and I will be picking up the DVD as well. Ron's review has me excited. Will this movie delve into human nature, provide insight into the nature of international conflict, or offer answers to preventing genocide--NO. But it is a fun ride for those that like over-the-top patriotic action movies. If you liked Rambo, or any movie with Schwarzenegger, I think you'll be happy with Behind Enemy Lines.
  16. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Dec 4, 1999
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    Ron, I love popcorn movies, I have a ton of them. I love Michael Bay movies. The difference is that those are GOOD popcorn flicks. Blade 2 is NOT a good movie. Does it whup? Yup. How many GOOD movies has Jackie Chan made? About 0. How many fun movies has Jackie made? Several dozen [​IMG]
    This one was just BAD for the aforementioned reasons.
  17. MikeM

    MikeM Screenwriter

    Nov 23, 1999
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    I think what brought out the Boo Birds to this thread is that the title says that it's "HIGHLY RECOMMENDED". Sure, it sounds like a great DVD product, but as for the film, you can only spray so much perfume on crap. [​IMG]
  18. Jim A. Banville

    Jim A. Banville Supporting Actor

    Jun 20, 1999
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    I normally HATE "stupid action movies" (such as Broken Arrow, Face-off, ID4), but I really liked BEL! I can't wait to add this DVD to my collection. I really must LAUGH when someone even mentions seeing some other award winning film over this one. As if some award can measure the entertainment you glean from a film such as BEL. PULEEZ! Didn't the Wizard of Oz have some talking scarecrow? How stupid is that?! [​IMG] And you can't seem to kill Jason in the Friday the 13th films? How unrealistic is that? Surely everyone must have hated those films.
  19. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    I made this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED title
    simply because it ranks high on the Popcorn
    Movie scale.
    ....but I can see how it can be deceiving,
    and thus, I am going to remove it from a
    recommended status and reserve it for titles
    with more substance.
  20. Dave Scarpa

    Dave Scarpa Producer

    Apr 8, 1999
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    Real Name:
    David Scarpa
    I think this title will certainly warrant a rental but I had'nt planned on buying it.

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