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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Hurt Locker [Blu-ray]


(Kathryn Bigelow, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Grosvenor Park Media

Video: Summit Entertainment



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:10:39.832

Disc Size: 43,800,615,244 bytes

Feature Size: 36,984,238,080 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.46 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard case

Release date: January 12th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3912 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3912 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core:
5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), none



• Audio Commentary with director/producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer/producer Mark Boal

A "Behind the Scenes" (12:30 in HD!) 
Photo Gallery option to play with with Q+A while slides play (23:30 in HD!)

Previews of 2 Summit Entertainment features





Description: Based on the personal wartime experiences of journalist Mark Boal (who adapted his experiences with a bomb squad into a fact-based, yet fictional story), director Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War-set action thriller THE HURT LOCKER presents the conflict in the Middle East from the perspective of those who witnessed the fighting firsthand -- the soldiers. As an elite Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team tactfully navigates the streets of present-day Iraq, they face the constant threat of death from incoming bombs and sharp-shooting snipers. In Baghdad, roadside bombs are a common danger. The Army is working to make the city a safer place for Americans and Iraqis, so when it comes to dismantling IEDs (improvised explosive devices) the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) crew is always on their game. But protecting the public isn't easy when there's no margin of error, and every second spend dismantling a bomb is another second spent flirting with death. Now, as three fearless bomb technicians take on the most dangerous job in Baghdad, it's only a matter of time before one of them gets sent to 'the hurt locker'. Jeremy Renner, Guy Pearce, and Ralph Fiennes star.



The Film:

The making of honest action movies has become so rare that Kathryn Bigelow's magnificent The Hurt Locker was shown mostly in art cinemas rather than multiplexes. That's fine; the picture is a work of art. But it also delivers more kinetic excitement, more breath-bating suspense, more putting-you-right-there in the danger zone than all the brain-dead, visually incoherent wrecking derbies hogging mall screens. Partly it's a matter of subject. The movie focuses on an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, the guys whose more or less daily job is to disarm the homemade bombs that have accounted for most U.S. casualties in Iraq. But even more, the film's extraordinary tension derives from the precision and intelligence of Bigelow's direction. She gets every sweaty detail and tactical nuance in the close-up confrontation of man and bomb, while keeping us alert to the volatile wraparound reality of an ineluctably foreign environment--hot streets and blank-walled buildings full of onlookers, some merely curious and some hostile, perhaps thumbing a cellphone that could become a trigger. This is exemplary moviemaking. You don't need CGI, just a human eye, and the imagination to realize that, say, the sight of dust and scale popped off a derelict car by an explosion half a block away delivers more shock value than a pixelated fireball.


The setting may be Iraq in 2004, but it could just as well be Thermopylae; The Hurt Locker is no "Iraq War movie." Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal--who did time as a journalist embed with an EOD unit--align themselves with neither supporters nor opponents of the U.S. involvement. There's no politics here. War is just the job the characters in the movie do. One in particular, the supremely resourceful staff sergeant played by Jeremy Renner, is addicted to the almost nonstop adrenaline rush and the opportunity to express his esoteric, life-on-the-edge genius. The hurt locker of the title is a box he keeps under his bunk, filled with bomb parts and other signatory memorabilia of "things that could have killed me." That none of it has killed him so far is no real consolation. In this movie, you never know who's going to go and when; even high-profile talent (we won't name names here) is no guarantee. But one thing can be guaranteed, and that is that almost every sequence in the movie becomes a riveting, often fiercely enigmatic set piece. This is Kathryn Bigelow's best film since 1987's Near Dark. It could also be the best film of 2009.

Excerpt from Richard Jameson at Amazon located HERE



Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Hurt Locker on Blu-ray from Summit Entertainment appears very faithful to its highly grain rich theatrical appearance. It's dual-layered with a high bitrate. The 2-hour 10-minute feature film takes up almost 37 Gig of space on the Blu-ray. The film's kinetic camera and verité style don't lend themselves to pristinely crisp visuals - and this is a very purposeful decision. The dusty brown desert and army fatigues are authentically pale and dull - skin tones seem true - contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels and the film's wonderful textures are extremely apparent. Almost exclusively shot outdoors with natural daylight producing impressively bright visuals this Blu-ray exports a consistent and realistic feel as the obvious production intent. The digitally created slow-motion scenes never expose visuals hints of their CG. Detail has some decent moments in close-up but there are so many quick cuts it never could be described as sharp.  There is no gloss or DNR. This Blu-ray is probably looks as close to The Hurt Locker as this format can, presently, replicate.

















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3912 kbps supports the film's audio perfectly. The occasionally, and intentional, scattered dialogue and effect sounds come in all flavors from the demonstrative to the subtle. Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders' score is sparsely utilized maintaining the viewer's emotional ability to identify more closely with the characters and more intimately with the plot and storyline. There are only optional English (SDH) subtitle offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

I really enjoyed the Bigelow/Boal commentary. Their knowledge of the most intricate of details, like explosions, is highly impressive. Bigelow talks about the casting and other production circumstances and hurdles as well as shooting in the intense heat and the health issues associated with the actors, locations and the entire process of filming in Jordan, Kuwait and British Columbia, Canada. She is always a pleasure to listen to - as someone who really knows their sh*t. Boal, who developed the story from his experience as a journalist in Iraq also gives intelligent and viable details. It's a very good commentary - relaxed with plenty of gaps (neither takes the lead) but still worth indulging I think. Overall the commentary is the king and very much worth indulging in. There is also a, more or less, standard "Behind the Scenes" running 12-minutes in HD with input from Boal, Bigelow and much of the cast. Interestingly accessing the Photo Gallery gives the option to watch it while listening to a Q+A, recorded at the Institute of Contemporary Art on London, England, while slides play. It is also quite interesting and runs over 23-minutes. The disc starts with two Summit Entertainment previews before the menus come up.



One of the best films of 2009 - and a probable Oscar winner. It would easily be listed on my top Blu-rays of the 2009 year excepting, the US version, is technically being released in 2010. There are no reasons NOT to fully endorse this Blu-ray. The film is magnificent - I've seen it 4 times now. It has immense repeat watching value - I LOVE the highly grainy, gritty look and the supplements, including the commentary, are excellent additions. We give it our strongest recommendation. 

Gary Tooze

December 22nd, 2009



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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