A Mighty Heart (Blu-ray)
From a film perspective, it's a challenge to create a compelling story when everyone knows the outcome, and while director Michael Winterbottom does a decent job, it doesn't have the same impact that United 93 had in summarizing the events of that fateful flight on 9/11. The movie demonstrates how he made a colossal mistake while reporting in Pakistan, explaining why he was the target of the kidnappers to begin with and how his error led to his eventual murder.
The native digital photography handicaps the video quality from the start and looks more akin to documentary footage rather than a feature film. Low-light sequences feature heavy grain and digital noise. Furthermore, black levels are more a shade of dark gray with a blue undertone harkening back to early-model LCD TVs. The subdued color palette doesn't contribute to a vivid HD picture, but it does capture the spirit of a third-world country.
The dialog-intensive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio is unremarkable in its sound design, with the majority of the action focused on the front speakers and collapsed toward the center. The big-city environment in Pakistan does utilize the rear speakers for ambience with the sounds of crowd noise and vehicles moving around, creating an immersive environment. Dialog is mostly intelligible, but there are a few scenes in which heavy accents or soft talking leads to some ear strain, but that's most likely in the source and no fault of the audio encode. Either way, it isn't a reference-quality track by any means, but it works fine within the framework of the production.
The special features are anything but special and include a making-of featurette, a PSA (public service announcement) about the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and a closer look at the Committee to Protect Journalism, which was established to protect journalists' rights throughout the world. The only HD supplement is the theatrical trailer.
I found Jolie's performance mesmerizing, but the pacing is a bit too methodical and seemed much longer than 108 minutes. The presentation is pedestrian and fits the mood of the subject matter, but this isn't a pick-me-up story by any stretch of the imagination. If you're curious about Daniel Pearl's fate, it's worth a viewing, but I watching it more than once is a stretch.
Release Date: March 24, 2009
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics