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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2010

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"Green Zone" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

Chief Roy Miller (Damon) leads a team of soldiers to alleged WMD (weapons of mass destruction) sites in Iraq shortly after the beginning of the war.  When he comes up empty time after time, he begins to question the credibility of the intelligence he’s receiving.  With the help of a veteran CIA operative, Martin Brown (Gleeson), he tries to unravel the mystery behind the government’s secret informant, codenamed “Magellan.”  He also finds himself pursuing one of Saddam’s top generals in the process.  As he digs deeper, he discovers things that call into question the reasons behind the Iraq war and what the real agenda is.  As he closes in on the truth, he is pitted against a private security force working for shady Pentagon official Clark Poundstone (Kinnear).  Following the action is Wall Street Journal reporter Lawrie Dayne (Ryan) who just might end up with the story of her career.  In the end, Miller must decide whether to act on his beliefs, or simply do what he’s told.

 

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2010, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 55 min
  • Aspect Ratio:  2.40:1
  • English, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Codec:  not specified
  • Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Amy Ryan
  • Directed by Paul Greengrass
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

This film had me literally on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  The action is pretty much non-stop.  Most action/thriller/war movies are overly chaotic and confusing but Green Zone is an exception.  I never had trouble following the action or keeping the characters and story straight.  The news of the early Iraq war is ancient history now but the question of whether or not there were ever weapons of mass destruction still has no clear answer.  And we still don’t know how reliable the intelligence was that justified the war in the first place.  Green Zone offers one possible explanation for the mystery.  It’s totally plausible though it doesn’t paint the Pentagon in a positive light.  Still, it makes for great cinema and I’ll be adding this disc to my library.

Technical

Picture quality ran the gamut from decent to poor.  Daytime scenes looked good with a strong gold overtone which is what you’d expect to see in the hot desert climate of Iraq.  There is never a question about the heat level in this film!  My chief complaints were about the darker material.  It’s evident that several different film stocks were used with varying levels of grain.  Sometimes even within the same scene, the grain level changes when the camera angle shifts.  The grain ranged from non-intrusive to extreme.  Black levels were also inconsistent.  Occasionally they were deep and rich with excellent detail but most of the time they were elevated to a murky gray and made the overall picture quite flat.  At the opposite end of the brightness scale, highlights in the brightest scenes were blown out with crushing of detail.  The picture was nearly always sharp with no evidence of edge enhancement.

Audio was reference quality.  Once again, a case is made for lossless codecs.  No Dolby Digital soundtrack could approach the level of detail, dynamics and dimension portrayed by this DTS Master Audio encode.  Dialog was always crisp and clear.  Gunfire was incredibly intense with lots of deep bass.  The chop of helicopter blades had me ducking more than once and I’m sure I felt a strong breeze.  If you have a sub in your system, it will get quite a workout.  This disc is an easy choice for a surround sound demo.  Panning effects are done extremely well.  There’s nothing quite like an aircraft zooming in from behind to pull you into the action.  The musical score by John Powell is excellent and makes terrific use of percussion.  The drumbeats that anticipate the various battle scenes always got my heart rate up.

Extras

Bonus features include deleted scenes in HD and two short documentaries on the making of the film, also in HD.  There is also picture-in-picture commentary available from director Paul Greengrass via the U-Control feature common to Universal Blu-ray releases.  Finally, you can turn on audio commentary from Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon.