Reference DVD: Flags of Our Fathers

(Paramount) Clint Eastwood's cinematic debunking of wartime heroism makes for a terrific home theater experience. The clear, crisp, and bright DVD picture has depth and detail to burn, even in the many nighttime scenes. Although the combat images are tinted like old photographs, bursts of orange flames cut through the sea of green and brown when the big guns blast. The more colorful stateside images have deep blacks, dazzling whites, and natural skin tones. And during the flag-raisers' war-bond tour, there are plenty of rich tones in the dresses worn by the adoring women and the big-band singers.

Sound is equally impressive. In battle scenes, bullets whip all around while planes roar overhead. When machine-gun fire is sprayed, it passes vividly from one channel to the next. In fact, all of the different weapon effects are highly realistic, from the cracking of rifles to the booming of ships' giant barrels, which echo as their deadly loads hit Iwo Jima. Atmospheric environments are all immersive, including the sea's constant quiet presence during the landing on the island. And back home, the rousing stadium scene is so convincing that the cheering of the crowd raised the hair on the back of my neck. Alas, there are no extras.

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