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Right up front, I have to say that BLACK HAWK DOWN ($27) is a highly charged war movie that doesn’t pull any punches. With Ridley Scott in the director’s chair, BLACK HAWK DOWN wages an all out war on the audience’s senses, by presenting them with the grim horrors of military conflict in excruciating detail. This, of course, doesn’t make BLACK HAWK DOWN any the less of a riveting motion picture experience that commands the viewer’s full attention. Based upon actual events, BLACK HAWK DOWN tells the story of what is supposed to be a routine mission- one that goes horribly wrong, and then proceeds to get progressively worse.

BLACK HAWK DOWN is set in Somalia in October of 1993, when starvation was rampant, and hundreds of thousands of its people died. In an effort to help stabilize the situation in Somalia, an elite squad of US Army Rangers was sent into sent into the capital city of Mogadishu to apprehend two lieutenants of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. What should have been to be a "by-the-numbers" mission becomes severely complicated by the unprecedented levels of resistance within the city, which leads to one of the Black Hawk helicopters being shot down. With the motto of "no one gets left behind" the objective becomes that of a rescue mission to get all of the trapped soldiers out of hostile territory- all the time under heavy gunfire that leads to numerous casualties. The top-flight ensemble cast of BLACK HAWK DOWN includes Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Jason Isaacs, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard and Orlando Bloom.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has made BLACK HAWK DOWN available on DVD in a 2.35:1 widescreen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. BLACK HAWK DOWN features an outstanding transfer that has been made even better by its presentation under the auspices of the Superbit banner. The image appears very sharp and is highly defined, even with the more artistic aspects of some of the film’s cinematography. Colors are stylized and appear intentionally subdued at times, but otherwise, they are beautifully rendered. Blacks appear deep and true and whites appear accurate. Contrast is purposely harsh, which plays exceedingly well into the film’s intended look. The film elements appear to be in great shape, without significant flaws. There is a very noticeable grain structure running through much of the movie, which gives the movie a very gritty and realistic quality. The Superbit process keeps digital compression artifacts completely at bay.

As a Superbit release, BLACK HAWK DOWN comes with 5.1 channel soundtracks in the flavors of both Dolby Digital and DTS. The soundtrack is absolutely marvelous, and everything one would expect from a recent, action intensive war movie. Highly aggressive, the mix utilizes all of the discrete channels fully to put the middle of the film’s near continuous sonic barrages. Sound effects are totally convincing and the bass channel is certain to shake one’s listening room down to its foundation. Even with the pounding sound effects on the track, dialogue is intelligible, well mixed and never drowned out. Incidental music and the score come across with excellent fidelity and musical presence. As for the differences between the two digital soundtracks, well, DTS does come out on top by producing a warmer, tighter sound with an even more potent bottom end than the standard bearer. Of course, if your system doesn’t take advantage of the DTS encoding, don’t feel bad, because the Dolby Digital track definitely kicks. The DVD also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese, and Korean. As a Superbit title, BLACK HAWK DOWN features the most basic of interactive menus, which provide one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, but no supplemental content.

BLACK HAWK DOWN is an outstanding war movie that makes for an outstanding Superbit DVD release. If getting the best possible video and audio is your criteria for making a DVD purchase, then you can’t go wrong with the Superbit version of BLACK HAWK DOWN, as it is indeed a killer disc. Recommended.



Black Hawk Down (Superbit Collection) (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 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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