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U-571 ($30) is a terrifically entertaining WWII submarine movie, that falls in the best tradition of Hollywood entertainments. In other words, U-571 is pure fiction that mixes together ideas from historic events, then reshapes them to dramatic structure of a movie that meet the necessities of a two hour running time. The premise of U-571 finds that a German U-boat has taken significant damage and has radioed an S.O.S., which has been intercepted by the allies. An American submarine crew has been tapped for a covert secret mission, which involves disguising their vessel as a German rescue ship, so that they can get onboard the disabled U-boat and steal the Germanís Enigma cipher machine (thus allowing the allies to read coded German messages).

While the first part of the mission goes off well enough- the Americanís are able to acquire the Enigma machine, they are unprepared for the arrival of the real German rescue ship, which sinks the Americanís ship. This leaves only a handful of the American crew alive and forces them to take refuge on the disabled U-boat, which the have to get running if they are to escape the Germans and bring the captured Enigma machine back to Allied Command. U-571 features plenty of action and suspense, not to mention a terrific cast that holds it all together. Said terrific cast of U-571 features Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, David Keith, Thomas Kretschmann, Jake Weber, Jack Noseworthy, Tom Guiry, Will Estes, Terrence 'T.C.' Carson, Erik Palladino, Dave Power, Derk Cheetwood and Matthew Settle.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made U-571 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. The 1080p presentation is absolutely first rate and will tickle fans of the WWII submarine drama. The image is sharp, highly defined and dimensional, not to mention that it maintains a film-like appearance. Additionally, fine details like individual hairs; beads of sweat and textures of objects are easily discernible. Colors are vibrant and generally well saturated throughout, with the flesh tones coming across in an appealing manner. Blacks are inky, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast very good and very smooth. Shadow detail is almost always excellent. The elements from which U-571 have been mastered are free from flaws. There is some grain in the image, which maintains the organic quality of the presentation.

U-571 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Wow this is another truly awesome sound mix. U-571 has the requisite aggressive, action/war movie sound design, which utilizes of all the outlying channels to deliver clear and precise sound effects placement and panning. Not only is this track highly aggressive it also excels at creating believable acoustic spaces- the interior of the submarine underwater is amazing. The viewer hears every creak and groan of the U-boat, not top mention the sound of the engines running, as well as impacts and near misses. The bass channel adds all the percussive power that the depth charges require, plus the necessary rumble whenever the U-boat takes a hit. Dialogue is always clean and easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 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 some supplements. Director Jonathan Mostow is on hand to provide a running Audio Commentary. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player).

As I stated above, U-571 is a terrifically entertaining WWII submarine movie. The Blu-ray Disc release is super and really delivers the goods in terms of audio and video. If you are a fan, youíll want the Blu-ray. Recommended.



U-571 [Blu-ray] (2000)


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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