We are all familiar with the so called “great wars” of American history. Hollywood has supplied more hours of World War II film than the actual war itself. From classics like Torra Torra Torra to Saving Private Ryan, we have gotten to know every inch of those wars. Vietnam became a popular subject by the mid 80’s with films like Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. “Peace-keeping” missions like the U.N. directed effort s like the one in Somalia in the 1990’s isn’t the “stuff” of heroes it seems. Leave it to Ridley S…ott to change all of that forever. One of the most intense missions in our military history occurred without a full scale war when a Black Hawk helicopter went down in a hostile neighborhood in Somalia. We lost 19 officers and thousands of Somalians lost their lives. This film never lets up. Once Black Hawk goes down, the action literally never ceases until the end credits. Credit a well-cast collection of actors and this film is one of the best.
During a peacekeeping mission to protect U.N. food relief programs for the starving people of Somalia, an American Black Hawk copter crashes in hostile warlord-controlled territory during a prisoner extraction mission. The battle rages for almost 24 hours.
The audio on this release is an awesome Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Surrounds are used to their complete potential as the action is transported right into your viewing area. Gunfights and military vehicles are given an amazing life of their own with this mix. Your sub will thank you for cutting it loose with some powerful low range dynamics. The Hans Zimmer score screams from the screen at all the right moments offering at times heroic and at appropriate moments a sheer haunting quality that is sure to grip even the most stoic viewer.
Director Ridley Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer provide a fascinating commentary that is rich in historic content as well as behind the scenes information on the production. These two are a dynamic team and provide one of the better commentaries I’ve heard.
The film’s writers Mark Bowden (original book) and Ken Noland (screenplay) provide an in-depth look at the film and compare it to the events it was based upon. Finally a commentary by Ranger Vets is a bittersweet look at war and some real-life perspective on the events you are watching.
Black Hawk Down is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This is a flawless transfer. Colors are often stunning and the battle scenes are gritty and quite realistic. Blacks are amazingly deep and alive in detail. Scott makes frequent use of blue filters to provide atmosphere and the technique is preserved perfectly here. Flesh tones are absolutely reference. There are no film artifacts or digital artifact present. I am quite amazed at the quality of the picture since it was squeezed onto a single side. Finally, the cinematography deserves a mention as the aerial shots, particularly the beaches, are brilliant.
This is a 3-disc treatment and each disc is jam-packed with extras.
Here you’ll find the film along with the above mentioned commentaries. It is also the home of some text based cast and crew info.
”The Essence of Combat – Making of Black Hawk Down” is a 2 hour + collection of 6 features that can be played individually or as one long feature. The topics covered are: Story and Characters / Military Orientation / On Location / Film Score / Visual Effects and Final Thoughts. Everything you need to understand the event and its metamorphism into a film is covered here in great detail. An incredible presentation.
“Designing Mogadishu”, “Production Design Archive”, “Storyboards”, and “Ridleygrams” explore the sets and locations mostly found in Morocco through production sketches and storyboards.
This disc also features Jerry Bruckheimer narrating some camcorder footage he shot on the set. Round the disc out with a slide show and 20 minutes of deleted scenes (with or without commentary) and you would think that was enough. But wait…. There’s…
Here you get the History Channel special “The True Story of Black Hawk Down” and the award winning PBS special “Ambush In Mogadishu” These two documentaries will do an great job of telling the real story behind the reel story.
You’ll have fun playing with some multi-angle scenes from the film. Don’t forget a generous collection of trailers and TV spots. Three press conferences with members of the cast and crew complete this well-stuffed Christmas stocking of a release.
From war film fans to connoisseurs of action movies, this will satisfy them all. There is no question that this set deserves a spot in every collection. If you have the older bare-bones release, this one is worth trading up for. I hope they printed a ton of these things so that “No one gets left behind”.
Special Features List
- 3 Audio Commentaries
- 6 making-of featurettes
- 8 deleted & alternate scenes
- Production design archive
- Storyboards with optional commentary
- Ridleygrams with optional commentary
- Title design explorations with optional commentary
- The History Channel Presents: The True Story of Black Hawk Down
- PBS Presents: Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu
- Interactive mission map/timeline
- Target building insertion – multi-angle sequence with optional commentary
- Question & Answer Forums