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A character based drama with no clear answers; JARHEAD ($30) presents war as a great big waiting game, which weighs on the psyche of a solider as heavily as actual combat. Based upon based on U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford's Gulf War memoir, JARHEAD tells the story of his experiences leading up to and Operation Desert Storm. Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Swofford and the film takes him from Boot Camp to his posting to Camp Pendleton, where Staff Sergeant Sykes (Jamie Foxx) invites him to join his Scout Sniper training course. Successfully completing the course, Swofford becomes a sniper.

When Kuwait is invaded by Iraq, Swofford's unit is dispatched to the Persian Gulf to participate in Operation Desert Shield. Although the marines are eager for action, the find themselves with little more to do than, wait, drink water and participate in training exercises, as the acclimatize to the desert conditions. The long wait and other circumstances take their toll, and nearly drive Swofford to the breaking point. JARHEAD benefits from a strong performance from Gyllenhaal and solid support from Scott MacDonald, Peter Sarsgaard, Lucas Black, Kevin Foster, Brian Geraghty, John Krasinski, Chris Cooper and Dennis Haysbert.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made JARHEAD available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. No surprises, the 1080p presentation delivers a solid performance with the less than flattering cinematography. Image clarity, sharpness, dimensionality and detail cannot be faulted. Colors are subdued and seemingly baked out of the image by the overabundant sunshine. Blacks are deep and whites are completely stable. Due to the bright sunlit conditions, which much of the film was shot, the movie has a highly contrasted look that sometimes approaches becoming blown out. Shadow detail is generally excellent. A fine film grain is present and enhances the overall look of the presentation.

JARHEAD is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Since so much of JARHEAD is a waiting game, the sound design is dialogue driven, with much of the sound being localized to the forward soundstage. There are moments when all the outlying channels engage and they do so in an effective manner. Fidelity is very strong, thanks to the lossless encode, so the music and sound effects come across very well. The bass channel adds the necessary rumble and percussion, but is never overblown. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. There are two running Audio Commentaries included on the Blu-ray Disc. The first track is director Sam Mendes, while the second features screenwriter William Boyles Jr. and author Anthony Swofford.

JARHEAD is a strong character based drama that succeeds on the basis of its performances. The Blu-ray presentation delivers the full impact of the film’s stark visual style. Recommended.



Jarhead [Blu-ray] (2005)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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