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GLORY ($29) is a truly outstanding historical drama, and most assuredly, one of the best films ever made about the American civil war. Thoughtfully directed by Edward Zwick, GLORY tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first official black units in the United States armed forces, which is formed after President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation. Told primarily from the viewpoint of commanding officer Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), who hails form an upper class Massachusettsís abolitionist family, GLORY begins with bloody the Battle of Antietam and follows the wounded Gould back home, where it is decided he will lead the new regiment. Both former slaves and educated free black men readily enlist, but the training proves difficult and there are setbacks, including the Confederacy issuing a proclamation of death against any blacks caught in a Union uniform. Additionally, the men of the 54th face prejudice from white union soldiers, as well as unfair treatment from the Army itself. Although initially harsh on his men during their training, Gould ultimately stands up for them to ensure their fair treatment and making sure that they are given their promised opportunity to fight in the war. The excellent cast of GLORY also features Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman, Jihmi Kennedy, Andre Braugher, John Finn, Donovan Leitch, JD Cullum, Alan North, Bob Gunton, Cliff De Young, Christian Baskous, RonReaco Lee, Jay O. Sanders, Richard Riehle, Daniel Jenkins, Michael Smith Guess, Abdul Salaam El Razzac, Peter Michael Goetz, Pete Munro, Benji Wilhoite, Ethan Phillips and an uncredited Jane Alexander.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made GLORY available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. This is another terrific 1080p presentation from Sony, one that beautifully reflects cinematographer Freddie Francisí intentions and comes across in a wonderfully film-like manner. GLORY isnít the most razor-sharp or most highly defined Blu-ray on the market, but the levels of clarity and detail, still do impress for a film of its ilk. Colors are never over-saturated, but for the most part, do render in a warm and generally attractive fashion. Of course, there are some sequences that do feature a purposely-subdued color scheme, which also look quite good. Blacks are deep, whites are always stable and contrast is generally smooth. Shadow detail can be a tad truncated in places, but usually performs rather well. The elements from which GLORY has been mastered appear quite clean. Grain appears throughout the course of the film and can be a little heavy in places, but it gives the presentation a splendid film-like quality that is worthy of resounding cheers.

GLORY is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Considering that the soundtrack originated in the matrixed Dolby Surround era, I have to say that this lossless encode does give a very positive impression. Certainly not as aggressive or precise as a new fully digital track, the battle sequences do deliver an impact. Gunfire and explosions make good use of the outlying channels and are generally well placed. Localization is also pretty good, but not up to the modern standard. The usual amounts of ambience and fill find their way to the rear channels. Fidelity is strong and James Hornerís score is well served by the TrueHD format. The bass channel is punchy and surprisingly full. French and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby TrueHD are also encoded onto the disc, as is a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the discís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Edward Zwick. Featurettes include the following programs: The Voices Of Glory (eleven minutes), The True Story Of Glory Continues (forty-five minutes) and an Original Theatrical Making-Of Featurette (eight minutes). Bonus Trailers close out the standard extras. GLORY is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

GLORY is a marvelous historic drama given its full due on Blu-ray, thanks to a marvelously film-like presentation. Highly recommended.



Glory [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 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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