Viewed – 09 May 2012 DVD
This was compelling. With the memory of virus outbreaks like bird flu, swine flu etc causing much furor at the time, the idea of a virus that spreads across the globe, quickly infecting and killing millions seems wholly believable, and to be honest … terrifying. Yet this is not a horror movie, more so a convincing portrayal of an epidemic and the people whose lives it affects, some tragically.
Directed by the acclaimed Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Oceans Eleven) this has an ensemble cast of recognizable names including Kate Winslett, Jude Law and Matt Damon that all deliver very real performances, and is shot in a semi-documentary fashion, that replaces Hollywood glitz and action with human drama and emotion. I especially liked how it not only showed the government and scientists tackling the outbreak, but also how the general public can turn on each other in their desperation. And although it could be easily compared to Dustin Hoffman hit ‘Outbreak’, this proved the more earnest and thought-provoking. Granted the pace drops a bit in the middle, and the ‘vaccine’ seems to come out of nowhere … but overall this has it where it counts.
So to conclude, this was a refreshing drama that didn’t need to rely on thrills and spills to tell an absorbing story filled with character and social commentary … and I thought it was very good indeed.
Verdict: 4 /5
Viewed – 30 July 2011 Blu-ray
Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis, will know I’m a die hard fan of sibling directors Joel & Ethan Coen. Bar a couple of minor misteps (Intolerable Cruelty, and to a lesser extent, A Simple Man), they generally deliver interesting and very well made pieces of cinema. In this ambitious re-make / adaptation of the classic John Wayne movie and the book by Charles Portis, they bring to the screen the story of 14 year old Mattie Ross, a girl seeking the man who killed her father. Hot off the train and new in town, she hires a washed up Marshal (Jeff Bridges) and soon convinces him to help her find the man she seeks.
Viewed – 28 April 2010 Blu-ray
I wouldn’t say I am a fan of war movies or movies that try to depict battles in history, but a chosen few can appeal, if they have that something special. Braveheart is one, Full Metal Jacket another, and this, one of the most acclaimed World War II movies of all time, is another. Why? Probably because, unlike the recent Hurt Locker, its realistic depiction doesn’t alienate the viewer with an overly documentary approach. This is still a movie, and as such certainly one of the most engrossing and rewarding war movies ever made.
Directed by the (almost always) excellent Steven Spielberg, this stars (at the time) heavy weight acting talent Tom Hanks as Captain Miller whose mission after surviving the Omaha Beach Landings (surely one of the greatest cinematic openings in movie history), is to track down a missing-in-action Private Ryan whose three brothers are all reported as killed, and the U.S. Army want to send him home to save his mother any further grief. This mission divides the team of soldiers assigned to accompany Miller into enemy occupied France, as some think its suicide to risk their lives for one man. Yet as the men bond during their various encounters with the German army, they come to realise the true meaning of war and the mission as a whole.
Stunningly shot with a ridiculous attention to detail, some superb battle sequences, and most importantly a cast of recognisable faces (Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon etc) all delivering excellent performances, and this one ticks just about everything in the book. The emotion and the unflinching horrors of war may be a little too much for some viewers, as this, like Spielberg’s earlier Schindler’s List tackles the subject with maturity, meaning that yes, sometimes its disturbing, heart-breaking and bloody – but above all else – it is brilliant viewing.
The Blu-ray is something to behold. The detail on display is astonishing, making it definitely up there with the best I’ve seen so far, and the sound, in DTS HD Master Audio is thundering and crisp, and will breathe new life into any surround system. Extras-wise we have a wealth of featurettes, including footage of the war itself, behind the scenes stuff and interviews, all on a separate disk. Which makes this one package well worth your money.
Verdict: 5 /5