In The Valley Of Elah—Warner Bros. (Blu-ray)
I don't remember even seeing this one in theaters but like so many other films that deal with the current war in Iraq, it seemed to fade into obscurity. Tommy Lee Jones got an Oscar nod for this one and he does do a great job portraying a father on the hunt for his son who went AWOL after returning from the war. When they find his boy brutally murdered in a field he tries desperately to find out what happened. With the help of a local detective he finds more than he bargained for. The film draws some serious questions about how war affects the soldiers returning home and how the average public could probably never comprehend what our soldiers are being asked to do daily. I really enjoyed the film despite the darker tones and sad story, but I can see some people being turned off to something that hits this close to home.
Warner has done an outstanding job with this HD presentation. I was constantly impressed with the level of detail in the image and how clean and smooth the image was. The consistency is excellent. Contrast was also exceptional, which led to a very dimensional quality and good depth of image. Warner is getting better and better with their HD releases and I hope to see this continue as they move toward Blu-ray exclusive transfers that can utilize higher average bitrates.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD and it's generally a nice mix. This isn’t an aggressive soundtrack by any means, though it does have some nice moments of range from time to time. Some of the club scenes deliver tight bass and nice extension into the near infrasonic range. Ambient cues are added throughout lending to a nice atmosphere and immersive soundstage, but the bulk of the load is in the mains. Dialogue always sounds clean and imaging with the onscreen image is solid. I did notice a few audio dropouts on this one with my Panasonic DMP-BD30, a trend I've been seeing more and more with recent Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. Hopefully this is something that will be worked out as the format progresses.
Extras include two features on the themes and production of the film. There is also a deleted scene included.
This is a dark tale and don't expect to walk away unaffected. The performances are excellent all around and I was surprised just how many stars were in this one. While I can see this one getting overlooked due to content, it is worth a look for drama fans.