"Rescue Dawn" is not a film you watch often, because it stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
Rescue Dawn (2007, Blu-ray)
Directors: Werner Herzhog
Producers: Elton Brand .... producer
Writers: Werner Herzhog
Features: * Commentary * Trivia Track * Trailers * Featurettes * Deleted Scenes * Interactive Vietnam Memorial * DTS-HD 5.1 Lossless Master Audio
Christian Bale...Lt. Dieter Dengler
Steve Zahn...Duane Martin
Jeremy Davies...Eugene 'Gene' McBroom
Rescue Dawn Blu-ray Review
Stepping into the world of Dieter Dengler is not an exciting one, but rather it's a dank, dreary world filled with tragedy and pain and while Dieter ultimately overcame the hardship that befell him, what he experienced is something no man woman or child, should ever have to endure.
Werner Herzhog's brilliantly crafted tragedy and triumph of the human spirit follows the true life story of Dieter Dengler (personified here by the ubiquitous Christian Bale), a crack shot pilot with dreams of flying the skies for as long as he can. He's shot down on his very first mission into enemy territory and taken hostage. For several years, he's kept in a a smelly hut, beaten and tortured, until he and his fellow inmates staged a daring escape that lead to Dieter's rescue.
The film is very gritty, with Bale and cast bearing the brunt of the punishment from their captors while facing off against the harsh, beautiful, but dreary forest around them. Director Werner Herzhog never shies away from the brutality that these men had to endure and shows us as much as the PG-13 rating will allow.
Christian Bale (this is the second time he's lost a copious amount of weight) gives yet another staggering performance as his complexity and sincerity allow the dark nature of the film to have some entertainment value. Steve Zahn gives a reserved, but great performance as a fellow inmate. The most transformed and mesmerizing performance goes to Jeremy Davies, who quickly evolves into a fiendish villain of sorts. He's trimmed himself down to just skin and bones and his southern "I don't give a damn" accent lends to his haunting and creepy vernacular.
Herzhog's direction is taut and the performances are solid. The script though, suffers from some ambiguous undertones. Many historians have complained about the accuracy of some of the characters that Herzhog exposes as evil or villainous. The families of these people have even complained. The story is compelling, to be sure, but knowing this mars the film slightly.
"Rescue Dawn" is not a film you watch often, because it stays with you long after the credits have rolled. Much like Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ", the movie is a must see film with little replay value.
Film Report Card:
As entertainment: B-
As a film: A-
This is a review of the Blu-ray version of "Rescue Dawn."
Fox/MGM presents the film in 1.85:1 widescreen and 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 (at 34 mbps) video on a dual-layer BD50 disc. With the recent streak of disappointing MGM titles, I expected this to follow suit. But it didn't. MGM gives us a dazzling transfer with deep, rich colors and solid black levels. The film does have some intentional grain, but beyond that, this is a pretty good reference presentation.
Fox/MGM presents the film in DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio and it's a pretty strong, ambient mix. Surround usage is quite spacial with the listener being enveloped by the sounds of the dreary, wet forest. Some dialog distortion takes place during the louder sequences, but beyond that, this is great track.
Fox/MGM has presented with a decent supply of special features to peruse.
First up, we're presented with a very informative commentary with director Werner Herzhog, who is interviewed by Norman Hill. I rather enjoyed this track as it's loaded with info enough for two or three tracks. Give this one a listen.
Next up, we've got an expansive documentary (running about 50 minutes) called The Making of a True Story. It's split into four parts and goes through just about every aspect of this film. It's well worth watching and a nice compliment to a great commentary.
Finally, there's a series of rightfully deleted scenes, a stills gallery and trailers. Optional commentary is available on the deleted scenes.
Fox/MGM has given fans a few high def exclusives. They include an informative text based trivia track, a quick additional featurette on survival techniques and an interactive recreation of the Vietnam Memorial (a clunky, but admirable addition I hope to see improved on future war films).
"Rescue Dawn" is presented in a blue "Elite" case and is pretty consistent with Fox titles. I wish the image on the back of the box actually featured a still from the movie rather than a hardly readable image of the menu, which is hard to read on-screen too.
"Rescue Dawn" is an admirable film with few faults. It's hard to watch, but deeply mesmerizing thanks to several solid performances and great direction. The Blu-ray disc is a fit compliment to the film. Check this one out for sure.
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: B
On Blu-ray disc: November 27th, 2007
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----R. L. Shaffer