Enemy at the Gates (Blu-ray)

The year is 1942, and the Nazis are cutting a deadly swath through Russia. Under the leadership of Khrushchev, the citizens of Stalingrad are mounting a brave resistance, spurred by the exploits of their local hero, Vassili Zaitsev (Jude Law). An expert sniper, Zaitsev's deeds have become legendary thanks to propaganda produced by his best friend, a political officer named Danilov (Joseph Fiennes). To stop Zaitsev, the Germans dispatch their best sniper, Major Konig (Ed Harris), to Stalingrad. When Zaitsev and Danilov both fall in love with a beautiful soldier, Danilov deserts his friend, leaving him to face his German counterpart alone. As the city burns, Zaitsev and Konig begin a cunning game of cat and mouse, waging a private war for courage, honor, and country.

This often-overlooked production is one of my favorite war films of the last decade. While not as epic as Saving Private Ryan nor as poetic as The Thin Red Line, it succeeds on many levels—and I'm a sucker for sniper films. Depicting true events during WWII, I'll admit there are some aspects that are a bit of a stretch, but I thoroughly enjoy it nonetheless.

The HD presentation is a bit of a letdown. I owned the HD DVD import and wasn't that impressed, leading me to believe it needed a new master. It still does. There are obvious video artifacts in random scenes, including video noise, chroma artifacts, and some light ringing. Additionally, the image can be very soft, which is very distracting. While the overall dimension and fine detail is a smidge better than the DVD counterpart, the difference isn't nearly as obvious as with most Blu-ray titles.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is good, but like the video there seems to be something missing. Dynamic range isn't nearly as impressive as I had hoped, and the soundstage doesn't have any separation during the more intense scenes. Low bass is okay but not as gratifying as newer films in this genre. Dialog sounds good with natural tone and decent imaging across the front soundstage.

Extras are pretty much the same as the DVD and include a look at the production along with some deleted scenes and the trailer.

I was hoping for more, but this presentation is one of the more disappointing titles from Paramount of late. Still, it's a great film that's just as intense today as it was the first time. Worth a rental.

Release Date:May 26, 2009
Studio: Paramount

Movie: 8/10
Picture: 6/10
Sound: 8/10

Review System

Review System

Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player

Planar PD-8150 1080p DLP projector
120" Stewart StudioTek 130 screen w/Carada Masquerade masking system

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
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Paradigm Reference Signature S8 (front L/R)
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Dual SVS PB12/2 Plus subs
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