Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard, Chris Cooper, Jamie Foxx
Studio: Universal Studios Home Video 61106330
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Visually, the movie follows the often graphically stylized pattern employed in recent war films, with a relatively bleak color palette and intensely bleached-out appearance, with the images often bordering on sepia tone. While the film is highly detailed with an exceptionally sharp image, it still appears to have been heavily processed – this isn’t a disc to show off the color capabilities of your HD television. The DTS Master Audio 5.1 presentation, while pretty good, contains virtually no action in the surrounds; of course, there are no bombs or explosions to speak of, so in a dialogue heavy film like this one, there’s really very little to complain about. Despite its shortcomings, the overall presentation of the Blu-ray disc was a significant improvement over the DVD version.
One area that was definitely not an improvement over the DVD was the Blu-ray’s meager offering of bonus materials; the DVD version contained a plethora of extras, and this disc only contains the audio commentaries from Sam Mendes and Anthony Swofford. The disc is a BD-25 unit; it just amazes me that Universal didn’t utilize the extra storage of a 50-gig disc (or add a second disc) to include at least the same level of extras as the DVD, and perhaps include some interactive or HD exclusive material as well. Those looking to delve more deeply into the film will be greatly disappointed by this oversight.
While, as a movie, Jarhead tells a pretty good story, the overall Blu-ray experience falls significantly short of the mark set by similar releases from Universal. The movie is far from a total loss, however, and throughout you see glimpses of the excellent absurdist filmmaking that Sam Mendes gave us in his classic (and Oscar winning) film American Beauty. Jake Gyllenhaal is superb as Swoff, and Peter Sarsgaard – who’s one of the best of the current crop of young actors out there – is excellent as Swoff’s nearly insane buddy Troy. And Jamie Foxx gives an extremely over-the-top performance as their overbearing drill sergeant. Still, just when the movie appears ready to take you to the next level, it consistently falls flat. You just might consider making this one a rental.