HTF UMD REVIEW: Black Hawk Down

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by David Galindo, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    [c]Black Hawk Down (UMD)
    Region 1 • R • Atrack+3 Audio • Available Now

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    Sony delivers where it counts, although the terrible presentation makes me wonder if Starship Troopers really was the turning point for Sony UMDs. What happened here?

    Thoughts on the Movie

    Black Hawk Down takes place during the... well, I’ll level with you: I don’t know much about the war in Somalia back in the Clinton era, except for what the movie tells us during the opening. Basically, it’s a relief mission gone horribly, horribly bad.

    War movies in general seem to focus on one platoon, sometimes one man, as they gaze upon the epic battles and watch thousands killed. The huge difference with BHD is that the movie is able to focus on pretty much every single Army Ranger that’s in battle, which really makes a huge impact here… there never really is a faceless American that’s killed, since we met them earlier in the film. In fact, the enemy is pretty much the only faceless person in the movie (though we get a few minutes with one of them as they talk to an American prisoner).

    This movie can be astonishingly gruesome at times, such as the emergency operation on a kitchen table, and the aftermath. These men were expecting a thirty minute skirmish, but ended up in a daylong battle with many dead and wounded. What’s astounding is that they came unprepared, not packing water jugs and night vision simply because they would be back within the hour. Before the mission, the Rangers kept mentioning how they would be back soon, it’ll only take a few minutes, etc., and I felt that the movie was hitting us over the head with the fact that the soldiers were unprepared. Then I realized that the men likely said this before every mission (only a couple hours, just a couple days… ) perhaps as a kind gesture to the new recruits.

    I really loved this movie, and at times it had me pretty choked up. The sheer bravery some of the men had, and the amount of pain they had to go through, is insane. One Ranger driving a Hummer gets his eyes full of glass after the front windshield is destroyed, and the passenger tells him to just keep his foot on the gas, while he steers. Another goes deaf, and there is lots of dismemberment (one of the worst things that can happen to any human being, in my opinion). This movie is in the very top tier of the greatest war stories ever told.


    Video Quality

    WOW. I think that about sums up how this movie looks.

    The colors of the film, even though this movie takes place in mostly dust and desert, are fantastically vivid. The black levels, which are the one thing I complain about most in my reviews, are perfect. The sharpness and clarity is unmatched. And just wait until you see the night scenes glowing in green… this movie ranks with King Arthur as one of the best looking UMD movies so far.

    So why doesn't it get a perfect score? Unfortunately, as is the case with pretty much all of Sony’s releases, the film is cropped from 2.35 to a 1.78 ratio to fill the screen. Had it maintained its original ratio, it would have looked even more amazing and would have been perfect… but as it stands this is one of the best transfers I’ve seen from Sony so far. Excellent work.

    4.5/5
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    Audio Quality

    With an awesome video presentation comes an excellent audio track. Since about 90% of the movie is pure action and shooting, its great to hear that the UMD is able to keep up. Lots of bass, directional gunfire, dust and debris, and yet voices come out loud and clear. Once again I am impressed by this movie, as it really showcases what a PSP can output in terms of sound. Just don’t use the PSP’s internal speakers, as always.

    5/5
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    Extras

    When Starship Troopers (released a couple weeks before this UMD) came out, it had a slick presentation and a chapter selection. I mentioned that Sony had finally turned it around, and that future UMDs looked bright.

    Well, guess what? Black Hawk Down does not have a chapter selection, the menus are pretty crap, and there aren’t even any trailers. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t include a chapter menu. Heck, there’s even a menu for audio options… and since there’s only one choice (English), why on earth put it there in the first place? (yeah, it’s likely that they left it for overseas tracks on other region UMDs, but my point is they can put a menu with no specific purpose and STILL leave out a chapter menu!).

    The menus themselves are bland, and uninspiring. I don’t understand what exactly happened over at Sony, but this UMD would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the crap presentation. At least this UMD's got it where it counts.

    0.5/5
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    Overall…

    Excellent audio, EXCELLENT video, excellent price ($12-20 at most stores), terrible presentation. Ah, three out of four ain’t too bad. At least the video and audio, the most important aspect of any UMD, is great.

    But I wonder why Sony didn’t put more effort in the menus. It couldn’t cost that much to do. I have no idea why their quality varies with every UMD so far. Had the presentation been up to par, this UMD would have gotten a 4.5. As it stands, it’s still worth the money, but it seems that Starship Troopers and Air Force One was a fluke.

    3.5/5
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    IGN CONVERSION:
    Black Hawk Down
    Movie (out of 10): 9
    Video (out of 10): 9
    Audio (out of 10): 10
    Extras (out of 10): 1
    Overall: 8
    Editor's Choice? No
     
  2. Doug Graham

    Doug Graham Extra

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    Ugh, it's MAR. If they stopped chopping these movies up, I'd start buying them. I don't care how good it looks. It's the principle. Especially with Ridley Scott movies.
     
  3. David Galindo

    David Galindo Screenwriter

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    Yeah, I agree. The only studios that seem to keep the OAR is Buena Vista and Universal. Ironically, they are also the only two studios to put tons of extras on UMDs.
     

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