HTF REVIEW: "Black Hawk Down"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, May 21, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Black Hawk Down

    Studio: Columbia
    Year: 2001
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 144 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)

    Leave no man behind
    There's a memorable line in this movie that is
    hard to forget. It is Norm Hooten (Eric Bana)
    that says, "when that first bullet goes flying
    past your head, politics go right out the window".
    When I first saw Blackhawk Down theatrically,
    I almost promised myself I would never watch it
    again. It was the most realistic and disturbing
    war film I have ever watched. It's a movie that
    places you directly on the front line of combat and
    for two hours, hits you hard with scene after scene
    of carnage.
    On October 3, 1993, U.S. soldiers entered Somalia
    on an exercise that was supposed to take about
    thirty minutes. It was simple -- it was routine.
    Go in, take out Mohammed Farah Aidid and his men
    and return to base. It involved Black Hawk and
    Little Bird air cover supported by Humvee ground cover.
    Things did not go as planned.
    Director Ridley Scott recreates the harrowing
    15-hour battle between besieged U.S. troops and
    Somali fighters on the streets of Mogadishu in
    which 18 Americans were killed and 73 injured,
    along with thousands of Somali militia. A special
    kind of man is required to fight in these conditions,
    and the movie places us alongside these brave men
    that you will ultimately be humbled by.
    How is the transfer?
    Mastered in high definition, Black Hawk Down
    is one of the best looking DVDs available today.
    Don't be fooled by the intentional amount of grain
    that shows up in a small amount of scenes -- Ridley
    Scott uses grain, blue and green filters and high
    contrast to cleverly visualize his scenes. Through
    it all, you will be simply amazed by the jaw-dropping
    clarity of the picture that looks clean and crisp.
    Many people have complained that on a bare-boned
    release such as this, a DTS track was not offered.
    These people have a legitimate complaint. We all
    know that Columbia is intentionally holding back that
    DTS track for a forthcoming Special Edition.
    I can tell you that you will not be one bit
    disappointed in this disc's 5.1 Dolby Digital track.
    It is as good as many DTS tracks I have heard.
    What you will experience is a highly aggressive
    sound mix that never goes dull. Looking at my
    list of notes that I write during my screenings,
    I have scribble after scribble about many of the
    dramatic sonic experiences I had with this film.
    From the very moment the titles appear out of
    blackness, the rears come alive with the sound of
    sand swept wind and the rotary blades of the
    incoming helicopters.
    A DTS track usually fares better in directionality
    over a Dolby Digital track. I was surprised to
    hear such distinct channel separation with this
    Dolby Digital mix. I could pinpoint the exact
    location of a helicopter in the distance, as it
    slowly rises from the rear right channel and
    crosses over to the front channel. You can even
    hear the sound of sand being swept in the wind.
    LFE response is also quite good. My subwoofer
    was rumbling to the sound of the helicopter engines
    as well as some of the American and African music
    that is played throughout the film.
    Special Features
    Columbia has released an essentially bare-boned
    version of this DVD, promising to release a
    Special Edition within the year. Of course, the
    only people who know this are those in the
    internet community.
    Nonetheless, we are treated to a featurette,
    Black Hawk Down On The Set which basically
    has Director Ridley Scott and Producer Jerry
    Bruckheimer talking about the historical facts
    that this film was based upon. Principal cast
    members talk about their characters and the
    situation they are being thrown into. 15 cameras
    and thousands of extras from around the globe
    converged in Morocco for the filming of this movie.
    The actors themselves went through a military
    training program. Extensive footage of the
    training process is shown as we see the actors
    jogging in formation down a dimly lit street during
    their stay at Fort Benning, Georgia. We see the
    actors in the barber chair getting their heads
    buzzed. There was a support network formed between
    the actors due to the extreme amount exhaustion
    involved in the boot camp training. Coming totally
    unexpectedly, The United States military supplied
    the Black Hawk helicopters and the real guys and
    units that participated in the original extractions.
    There are some terrific behind-the-camera shots
    of the helicopters flying into the market,
    creating a tornado of wind and sand out of complete
    calmness. Quite a terrific documentary, though
    my taste buds yearned for more in-depth coverage.
    Talk about bare-boned! There is no trailer
    for Black Hawk Down included. Instead
    we get trailers for Spiderman and The
    A Cast and Crew Filmography is also
    Final Thoughts
    Black Hawk Down is a brilliant film
    with great cinematography and an accurate story
    line. And while it is one of the most realistic
    and disturbing war movies you will ever see, I
    guarantee that everyone that sees it will leave
    it with a certain amount of appreciation for the
    men and women that give their lives during
    wartime so that others may live.
    It's a difficult choice whether to buy this
    bare-boned DVD now, or wait for the Special Edition.
    Those that opt to buy it now will not be at
    all disappointed. The exceptional transfer and
    highly aggressive Dolby Digital mix will make this
    viewing one of the most intense theatrical
    experiences in your recent memory....I promise.
    Release Date: June 11, 2002
  2. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

    Jul 25, 2000
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    Thanks Ron.
    I'm dying here. Bare bones and all, I have yet to see it, so I will be picking this one up on the street date.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
  3. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    Looks like I am going to have to pull an Almost Famous on this one. A DVD and movie so good that even though I know a special edition is coming I have to buy it twice. With a film this good, as with Almost Famous, I have no problem giving the filmakers my money twice to support their future endeavors.
  4. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

    Jan 20, 2001
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    "LFE response is also quite good. My subwoofer was rumbling to the sound of the helicopter engines as well as some of the American and African music that is played throughout the film."

    I hate to do this but it's just a matter of time before someone else asks this question. How does it compare to Saving Private Ryan in terms of LFE and overall sound?

    By the way, this was one of your most unenthusiastic but positive reviews that I've read. You sounded pretty somber while at the same time you praised the film.

    I will pick it up next Tuesday or the Tuesday after ( I can't remember) at a local shop here in the city that often sells their titles early.

    Nice review.
  5. BrianP

    BrianP Supporting Actor

    Dec 8, 1999
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    I am going to wait for a special edition before purchasing this movie. But I will definitely rent a copy when it is available next month.
  6. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    I might have to do it your way. I'd go nuts with this on the shelf, and not in my collection...even if the SE is one of my most desired titles.

    The film alone deserves it.

    Take care,
  7. Bryant Trew

    Bryant Trew Second Unit

    Jun 3, 2001
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  8. T r o y

    T r o y Supporting Actor

    Jun 7, 1999
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    As good as your review is of this movie Ron, I'm still going to wait and buy the SE later this year as bad as it hurts to wait. It will definately be worth it!! Besides, I already saw it in the theater. Great Movie! And I can only imagine how that DTS track is going to sound on that SE ! Yeehaww!! [​IMG]
  9. Steven L

    Steven L Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 16, 1999
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    As much as I'd like to get it now, I'm going to wait for the SE. There's lots of other titles available in the meantime to keep me happy.
  10. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

    Dec 1, 2000
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    Thanks Ron, I am grabbing this puppy with a leash [​IMG]
  11. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    I have yet to see this, but will probably purchase based on all the positive reviews.

    I will probably buy the bare bones release, as I am not a huge fan of extras anyway.
  12. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

    Jul 27, 2001
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    Ron, thanks for the review!

    I will not double dip, I will not double dip... Sony's not getting me on this one! Although I've heard nothing but great things about this film and would really like to pick it up soon, I'm gonna wait for the SE. I'm not a big fan of extras either, but I enjoy having the DTS track as well as owning the "loaded" version for rainy days when I have no new DVDs to watch!
  13. Frank Anderson

    Frank Anderson Cinematographer

    Jun 7, 1999
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    Another top notch review. Thanks Ron.
  14. Oscar

    Oscar Second Unit

    Apr 1, 2002
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    Ron thanks to your review you just made my mind and soul tell me to buy the disc AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!
  15. YANG

    YANG Second Unit

    Feb 10, 1999
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    "Ron thanks to your review you just made my mind and soul tell me to buy the disc AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!"'re not going to wait for the S.E?
  16. Oscar

    Oscar Second Unit

    Apr 1, 2002
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    Well, perhaps, i would...
    I´ll tell you on June 11th
  17. YANG

    YANG Second Unit

    Feb 10, 1999
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    If anyone of you guys can't take the violence or bloody scenes in this film,you might be interested with a trimmed down(edited-PG friendly) version DVD release of BLACK HAWK DOWN...which is only available in SINGAPORE.This edited version will only available for distribution in SINGAPORE,MALAYSIA and INDONESIA.
  18. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

    Aug 13, 2000
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    I have a question for you techs out there.

    As good as the video transfer is, will adding a DTS track on a 2.5 hour movie in any way RISK adding too many artifacts or denegration to what sounds like a great tranfer? Is it possible the DD version will have a slightly better transfer that the inevitable DTS version since this is a 2.5 hour movie?

    I mean many say that Gladiator had a great transfer. And, I'm not arguing. But, would it have been better - even slightly - by not having a DTS track since it eats so many bits and that movie was over two hours?

    For those who are more "video sensitive," I wonder if this is the release to get.
  19. AndyDL

    AndyDL Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 10, 2001
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    Buy both DVDs? I don't think so, Columbia! Sneaky little bastards. [​IMG]
    I too will eagerly await the SE version but will definitely rent this version when it comes out.
    Awesome review, Ron!
  20. Jon_B

    Jon_B Screenwriter

    Nov 27, 2000
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    Bare bones or loaded, I have yet to see this movie, so I will be checking it out when it is released. Thanks for the review Ron. [​IMG]

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