Fury – Blu Review

Fury offers above average (but far from perfect) video and outstanding audio with plenty of extras in this new release from Sony Pictures

Beautiful steelbook from Target.
Beautiful steelbook from Target.

World War II is one of Hollywood’s favorite subjects, and it clearly interests star Brad Pitt as he appears in his second film on the subject in just five years. Fury, directed by David Ayer and starring Pitt, Jon Bernthal (Shane from The Walking Dead), Shia LaBeouf, Michael Peña, and Logan Lerman (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), is the most realistic WWI combat film I have seen since Saving Private Ryan (one of my “must-have Blu Rays). It brings the grittiness of the war to the screen and does not shy away from any of the horrors of the terrible conflict.

The version I own is the Target steelbook (pictured right), found here. It has some excellent artwork on the front, back, and inside, but only comes with the Blu Ray and a Digital Copy. If you are looking for the standard Blu Ray/DVD combo pack, you can find that version here. It is currently priced at around $15 on sale, and is well worth picking up for that price as I can not see such a quality film dropping much lower than that price anytime soon.

PICTURE QUALITY

As mentioned above, Fury’s picture quality delivers the gritty, gray. and dreary look that is required of any World War II film in order to accurately portray the mood during the conflict. With this film taking place in some of the War’s darkest days towards the end of the conflict deep in German territory, it was necessary to get this feeling across with a darker video presentation. However, at times the video seemed so dark, especially within the confines of the tank and during the climatic scene at night, that it was very hard to follow what was happening. I watched in a very dimly light room with no windows, and so there was no outside light interference which can make the darker scenes of certain films nearly impossible to see. Be prepared to watch this one in a dark environment if you want to enjoy the aforementioned scenes.

An idea of how some of the darker scenes look in "Fury"
An idea of how some of the darker scenes look in “Fury”

This being said, the rest of the film looks fantastic. If you have seen Saving Private Ryan, the picture quality is equally comparable to that in terms of the graininess, color, and dreary tone. The fight scenes are fantastic and the visual appeal of two or three tanks fighting on an open landscape is worth watching for alone. The color, although typically gray, also has some exciting moments during the fight scenes. When the tracer rounds are fired from the two opposing tanks and heavy machine guns, the vibrant green and red coloring that the tracers carry makes for an extremely realistic viewing experience.

PICTURE QUALITY SCORE: 4/5

AUDIO

Presented on a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, the audio is Fury’s best asset. With the film being focused on tank warfare, the sound needed to be exceptional in order to give an accurate representation of the intensity of the fighting. The whizzing of anti-tank rounds, heavy machine gun fire, grenade explosions, and fly-over bombing runs were all extremely satisfying. As planes flew overhead, you could hear the engines travel from your rear speakers to your front and center speakers, creating the immersive home viewing experience that should be expected of all HD media. Dialogue was clear, even over all of the fighting and whizzing bullets, which means that the center speaker was appropriately used as the driver for the dialogue, while all other action was directed through the side and rear speakers. This is especially important in films like Fury, as the outside noise should never drown out the dialogue. There is nothing more annoying than adjusting your volume to reflect the change in scene. The ideal home viewing experience offers a smooth transition in volume from a dialogue driven scene to an action driven scene, and Fury is certainly ideal in this respect.

AUDIO SCORE: 5/5

EXTRAS

Fury has an impressive amount of extras for a standard release, with almost an hour’s worth of deleted scenes, and several short features ranging from 11-20 minutes in length, as follows:

The crew of "Fury" work on filming the complex tank sequences.
The crew of “Fury” work on filming the complex tank sequences.

Blood Brothers – 11 minute featurette detailing the authentic WWII experience Fury has become known for, featuring interviews with cast members and WWII veterans.

Director’s Combat Journal – 17 minute piece detailing director David Avery’s creative process, editing of the film, and technical details involving the tanks and how to film in such a complex arena.

Armored Warriors – 12 minute feature with interviews by real WWII veterans

Taming the Beasts – 13 minute feature on the process of securing real WWII tanks for the film, and learning how to operate and maintain these massive, 70+ year old monsters.

EXTRAS SCORE – 5/5

OVERALL SCORE – 4.5/5

FINAL VERDICT: Fury is a must-own Blu Ray. With a top-notch audio track and a substantial amount of extras, this one is worth buying for your collection immediately!

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Sin City: A Dame To Kill For – Blu Review

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is one of the best Blu Rays I have ever watched, regardless of any negative critiques it has received. With a 3D version included in standard packaging, this is a must own for any collector or home theater fanatic.

For fans of the original Sin City, the sequel, A Dame To Kill For, was highly anticipated. Unfortunately, the fans of the first movie were not enough to avoid a box office disaster. A Dame To Kill For opened 9 years after the original, and so much of the fanfare surrounding the first movie was long gone by the time its sequel hit theaters, resulting in a worldwide total over just under $40 million. This is a far cry from Sin City’s huge 2005 theatrical run, where it made nearly $160 million worldwide. However, box office totals have no affect on the quality of a Blu Ray release, and in some ways low ticket sales can mean home viewers will get more when the Blu Ray is released.

For example, when A Dame To Kill For was released on Blu Ray, it came in a three disc package featuring the 3D version, the standard Blu Ray, and a DVD. Typically, studios release the 3D version of their films separately and charge $3-$4 more for 3D. When a 3D movie does not perform well in theaters (think Dredd, Immortals, or Prometheus) the 3D version can be coupled with the standard Blu Ray, which is a very good deal for home viewers with 3D capabilities. I was able to grab my copy for only $10 at Target, and while the price is back up to around $20 right now even at that price it would be worth getting, especially for fans of 3D.

The cover art on the Best Buy exclusive steelbook.
The cover art on the Best Buy exclusive steelbook.

The only Blu Ray exclusive for A Dame To Kill For was a steelbook from Best Buy, found here, although it looks like it will be tough to find, with shipping unavailable. The version which I own can be found here, and is the suggested version for the average fan. If you are a Sin City super fan, by all means pay extra for the steelbook, but I do not believe it is worth the extra money for the average home viewer.

PICTURE QUALITY

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is the best looking Blu Ray I have watched all year. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s explore why. First off, Sin City is meant to look spectacular and its stylistic form of film is what sets it apart from any other movie. There have been copycats, but other than 300 none have come close to matching this style of filmmaking. The entire movie is filmed in black and white, with very limited color in certain scenes and for certain characters. However, black and white picture has never looked so vibrant. The blacks, grays, muted whites, and bright whites mixed together into one cohesive image look stunning on Blu Ray, and it is highly recommended that you watch this movie with the lights dimmed or completely off so that you can feel the full effect of this style.

One of the stunning black and white scenes from Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
One of the stunning black and white scenes from Sin City: A Dame To Kill For

There is absolutely nothing to complain about with this Blu Ray release, but there are a few things to be mindful of. First off, the aspect ratio was kept at its original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. This means that there will be a very slim black bar on the top and bottom of your widescreen HDTV, but this is normal and you should not zoom in on the picture or alter it in any way. For those of you with projectors, the black bars could be either wider or non-existent depending on settings and your screen’s ratio, but I would still recommend keeping the film in its original ratio so that none of the amazing picture quality is lost. Secondly, if you are watching the 2D version of the film there are a few scenes, especially early on, where you can tell they were intended to be seen in 3D. In these scenes, the gimmicky look you can get from 2D movies made for 3D conversions is visible, but only if you are really paying attention. Otherwise, this is an amazing Blu Ray. I do not like to call anything perfect, but this is as close as I have seen to perfect from films released this past year.

PICTURE QUALITY SCORE: 5/5

AUDIO

There is less to talk about with the audio from this release, as it is your standard 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that is very typical of most home releases these days. I would have liked to see a 7.1 mix from A Dame To Kill For as it certainly would have benefited from such a total surround sound experience, but the 5.1 mix does an excellent job as well. Dialogue is clear and well mixed with the louder, more violent scenes, so there is little volume adjusting to be done with this film, which is always a plus. The rear speakers are in full use, as the sounds of Sin City surround you. Every gunshot, shattered window, and exaggerated punch that Sin City is so well known for was produced brilliantly through my speakers, and as the filmmakers intended, it is truly like stepping into a comic book or graphic novel. It is a near perfect audio track, although the real winner with this film is its presentation and picture quality. Am I as excited about the audio as I am with the picture with A Dame To Kill For? No, but it does its job well and I have no complaints.

AUDIO SCORE: 4.5/5

EXTRAS 

Surprisingly, even with a three disc combo pack featuring a DVD, 2D Blu Ray, and 3D Blu Ray, Anchor Bay (the studio who released this Blu Ray) provides a very good amount of extras. If you happen to own the Target Exclusive, I do believe there are more extras available on their own disc, but I do not have that version and thus am going to provide the typical extras that come with all other releases.

A Dame To Kill For comes with four short extras, all in HD, and also features the Theatrical Trailer for the original Sin City, although there is no trailer for the sequel. Curious, but after the box office flop maybe the filmmakers wanted to relive the glory of the original and remind viewers of just how good that first effort was!

The extras are as follows:

High-Speed Green Screen – A fast forwarded 16 minute presentation of the film, before digital effects and CGI were added in post-production. It is an interesting glimpse into how these movies are made, especially in an era of film dominated by CGI and green screen effects.

Character Profiles – 14 minutes of interviews with the cast speaking about their characters. It is very basic, but interesting for fans.

Makeup Effects – 7 minutes with Robert Rodriguez, the Director, and Greg Nicotero, who did the makeup for this film and also works extensively on The Walking Dead and has worked on Evil Dead and many other makeup heavy horror movies since the 1980s. It is worth the look for fans of Nicotero’s work.

Stunts – A quick 6 minute look into the stunts for the movie with Rodriguez and the stunt coordinator.

Overall, they are all worth a look, with the highlights being the Green Screen Version, which is very cool for students of film, and the Makeup Effects short with Nicotero. I wish there was a bit more, and maybe something featuring Frank Miller, but it is still more than many releases are coming with these days.

EXTRAS SCORE: 4/5

OVERALL SCORE: 5/5

FINAL VERDICT: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For is one of those movies which you have to own if you are a home theater enthusiast or movie collector. It is simply one of the best experiences you will ever have with your home theater. Ignore the critical reviews, and pop this one on the screen and enjoy the visuals. You will not be disappointed.