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We Were Soldiers

 

Starring: Mel Gibson, Madeline Stowe, Sam Elliot
Director: Randall Wallace

Rating: R

Review Posted: 8.26.02

 

By John Teves

 

The Movie

 

On Sunday, November 14, 1965 at 10:48 a.m., Lt. Col. Hal Moore and his young troopers touched down at Landing Zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley, a place in Vietnam known as "The Valley of Death." A man of his word, Lt. Col. Moore set foot on the field of battle first only to find himself and approximately 400 of his men surrounded by roughly 2000 North Vietnamese soldiers. The ensuing battle was one of the most savage in U.S. history, and the first major encounter between the soldiers of North Vietnam and America.

 

We Were Soldiers  is a tribute to the nobility and uncommon valor of those men under fire. It honors their loyalty to their country and to each other, and it brings to light the heroism and unimaginable sacrifice of men and women both home and abroad. We Were Soldiers, is just another graphic war film illustrated in practical detail. The film is well conceived, but the story seems excessive, stuffy and tedious at times.

 

We Were Soldiers is certainly not a bad film, the story is pretty impressive and does contain some worthy moments, yet I felt the film seemed to get lost within the warfare. Gibson offered a decent performance, but I didn't find him to be terribly influential or commanding. As a result, We Were Soldiers remains a solid film that does a fairly admirable job of portraying the horrors of war, but I remain somewhat muddled by it.

 

The Video

 

We Were Soldiers appears in an aspect ratio of  2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I thought We Were Soldiers offered a truly impressive picture. Sharpness came across well.

 

The movie usually displayed excellent clarity and definition. A few wide shots displayed a minor amount of density, but those issues appeared infrequent. No signs of jagged edges, and the film seemed almost totally free of print flaws. I did notice a tiny bit of light grain, but other than that, the movie seemed clear and recent. Colors appeared positively marvelous.

 

We Were Soldiers  boasted a brilliant  palette that favored many bright and lively colors, and the DVD replicated them with incredible pep. The tones always looked accurate and distinct, and they showed no signs of bleeding or noise. The colors appeared to jump off the screen. Black levels also seemed very deep and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not excessively dense.

 

The Audio

 

The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack suffered from essentially no flaws. The soundfield presented a lively and involving sound. All five channels worked vigorously through most of the film. The elements blended across the speakers suitably and the surrounds contributed lots of particular audio. Effects appeared distinct and accurate and packed a vigorous punch. As a whole I thought the DD EX 5.1 mix provided a fine complement for the action that accentuated the material; the sound presented a very active mix, with some powerful tight bass.

 

The Extras

 

Extras:

  • Commentary by Director/Writer Randall Wallace

  • Getting It Right: Behind-The-Scenes Of We Were Soldiers

  • 10 Deleted Scenes w/ optional commentary

  • Theatrical Trailer

Overall

 

The film offered a decently entertaining experience, but I couldn’t help but think it was a disappointment. I felt the movie was too predictable to merit a strong recommendation, but fans of this genre might want to give it a look. We Were Soldiers offers commendable picture and sound yet lacks substantial extras.

 

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