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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mike McCoy, Scott Waugh
Cast:
Alex Veadov, Roselyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano, Jason Cottle, Gonzalo Menendez, Emilio Rivera, Dimiter D. Marinov
Writing Credits:
Kurt Johnstad

Tagline:
The only easy day was yesterday.

Synopsis:
Go "down range" with real, active-duty Navy SEALs in Act Of Valor, the adrenaline-fueled action-adventure that inserts you into the heart of the battle, alongside America's best and bravest. When a covert mission to rescue a kidnapped CIA operative uncovers a chilling plot, elite, highly-trained U.S. SEAL teams speed to hotspots around the globe, racing against the clock to stop a deadly terrorist attack. Pulse-pounding combat sequences, cutting-edge battlefield technology and raw emotion fuel this unprecedented blend of real-world heroism and original filmmaking - a thrilling tribute to the skills, courage and tenacity of the world's most revered warriors.

Box Office:
Budget
$12 million.
Opening Weekend
$24.476 million on 3039 screens.
Domestic Gross
$79.501 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/5/2012

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh
• Deleted Scenes
• Directors’ Intro
• Interviews with Active Navy SEALs
• “Making Of” Featurette
• “Real Bullets” Featurette
• “Real SEALs” Featurette
• “Silent Warriors” Featurette
• Music Video and “Making of the Music Video” Featurette
• Sneak Peeks and Trailer
• DVD Copy
• Digital Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Act Of Valor [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 5, 2012)

With 2012’s Act of Valor, we get a military movie with a twist: rather than use professional actors, it cast active Navy SEALs in many parts. Would this lead to a greater sense of verisimilitude or would it simply be a gimmick?

After a prologue shows a terrorist attack on an international school in Manila, we meet CIA operative Lisa Morales (Roselyn Sanchez) in Costa Rica. She trails local drug lord Christos (Alex Veadov) until thugs bust into her apartment, kill her partner Walter Ross (Nestor Serrano) and kidnap her.

This sets the Navy SEALs into action, as they get the assignment to head to Costa Rica and rescue Morales. An extra threat becomes apparent when they learn that Christo is tied to Abu Shabal (Jason Cottle), the terrorist who caused the blast at the school – and who may plan a major assault on the US.

Is it possible to criticize a movie that stars real Navy SEALs and not feel vaguely unpatriotic? Probably not, but while I appreciate the service these men give to their country, that doesn’t mean I have to embrace their work on the big screen.

At the start of this review, I wondered if the film’s unusual casting would give the movie an added sense of realism or bring nothing more than a gimmick. I think it acts as both, though the “gimmick” side of the equation dominates.

On one hand, the SEALs do manage to bring a good sense of believability to the movie, and since the action sequences dominate, that turns into a positive. Some have referred to Valor as essentially a video game turned into a movie, and that’s not far off-base; while it does posit basic story/character narrative, those elements become subsumed under the military sequences.

And I must admit that the action scenes work pretty darned well. Directors Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh come from the world of stunts and neither led a feature film until now. That shows in terms of how they stage and execute the various set pieces. They manage to give these a good sense of excitement and tension as we follow the work of the SEALs.

Unfortunately, they seem unable to create anything especially original. While the action scenes do their job, they come with a “been there, done that” feel, and the whole movie lacks any real sense of creativity. I get the feeling screenwriter Kurt Johnstad simply borrowed ideas from a mix of 80s action flicks and hoped they’d fit together well enough to sustain our attention.

They don’t, and the lack of skill displayed by the SEALs as actors undercuts the film. Oh, they do fine for amateurs, and they never embarrass themselves, but once you take the SEALs out of the military elements, they can’t handle the dramatic challenges. They seem wooden and unnatural and tend to make their non-action scenes ponderous. The contrast between the SEALs and the professional actors creates an even more obvious disconnect; while I’m sure the SEALs do their best, they just can’t act.

None of this makes Valor a bad movie. I admit I feel a little disturbed by its “recruitment video” feel, but that issue greets many military-related films, so I don’t think Valor deserves the criticism more than others.

While I may not regard Valor as a poor flick, I think its weaknesses drag it down too much to allow it to prosper. It may sustain our attention during its realistic action sequences, the rest of it feels cliché and reminds me of roughly 10,000 other movies. Without any real originality at work, it loses luster.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A/ Bonus B

Act of Valor appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was a consistently strong presentation.

Sharpness seemed solid. A few interiors looked a wee bit soft at times, but those instances were infrequent. The majority of the flick appeared accurate and concise. I noticed no issues with shimmering or jagged edges, and edge haloes remained absent. No print flaws came along with this digitally-shot film.

In terms of colors, the movie went with a stylized palette. Tones varied dependent on setting, so we got a mix of chilly blues, camouflage greens, warm yellows and other tints. These came across well, as the Blu-ray represented them as intended. Blacks looked dark and dense, and shadows were usually fine; a few low-light shots could be a smidgen opaque, but that was another minor complaint. Overall, the movie looked great.

I felt even more impressed with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. As expected from an action movie like this, the soundscape provided a nearly constant assault on the ears. This was most obvious during the battle sequences, of course, as those used all five speakers to form an engrossing sense of place. Bullets zipped around the room, various vehicles moved cleanly and blasts exploded into our faces. Quieter scenes delivered a nice sense of ambience, but the louder sequences brought the best punch and created a sensational soundscape.

In addition, the mix boasted solid audio quality. Music was rich and full, with crisp highs and taut lows. Effects followed suit, as the various military elements delivered strong and accurate reproduction, with some bold bass response. Speech was also concise and crisp throughout the film. This turned into a spectacular soundtrack.

The Blu-ray comes with a pretty broad set of extras. A Directors’ Intro from Scott Waugh and Mike “Mouse” McCoy runs three minutes, 12 seconds. They chat about their decision to use real SEALs as well as some aspects of the shoot. They give us a few decent insights about the production; it feels a bit like a teaser for the other supplements, but it’s meatier than most of these intros.

An audio commentary from directors McCoy and Waugh offers a running, screen-specific piece. They discuss working with the SEALs and real-life inspirations/influences, sets and locations, shooting digitally, action and stunts, cast and performances, the use of military tactics and attempts at realism, and a few other production areas.

The co-directors bring a lot of energy to their commentary and cover a nice variety of subjects. They address virtually all of the appropriate topics and do so with gusto. The commentary turns into an informative and engaging view of the film.

Six Deleted Scenes last a total of nine minutes, 23 seconds. We find “Christmas in the Barracks” (2:12), “Shabal in Winter Palace” (3:09), “Christo’s House” (0:44), “MREs” (1:19), “Shabal in Kiro” (1:09) and “Shabal on Boat” (0:50). “Palace” probably works best of the bunch, as it fleshes out the villains a little better. The rest offer minor character exposition and range from okay to clunky.

Under Interviews with Active Navy SEALs, we find seven segments with a total running time of 30 minutes, 27 seconds. We hear from “Rorke” (4:17), “Dave” (5:33), “Mikey” (2:28), “Ray” (4:26), “Sonny” (2:31), “Ajay” (4:59) and “Weimy” (6:07). (Note that the film and the extras only credit the SEALs under their first names or nicknames.) Across these, the SEALs discuss what brought them to the Navy, aspects of their military service, and related subjects.

Don’t expect a lot of really revealing comments here, as most of the statements follow the expected lines of duty and responsibility. That’s fine, and we do get some interesting thoughts about how the SEALs ended up where they went. Ajay proves to be the most compelling of the bunch, as he seems a bit more expressive than the others. We do get the occasional particularly intriguing nugget, such as when Rorke reveals that he’s occasionally jealous of soldiers who die in combat, as he views that as the ultimate way to go.

Four featurettes follow. The Making Of Act of Valor goes for five minutes, 26 seconds and offers notes from Waugh, McCoy, Rorke, post-production producer Jacob Rosenberg, executive producer Max Leitman, director of photography Shane Hurlbut. The show looks at the film’s story, the use of real SEALs, and shooting the action. Fluffy and glossy, this piece exists to promote the movie; we get a few decent shots from the set but not much of real interest here.

With Real Bullets, we get a two-minute, 13-second featurette with McCoy, Waugh, and Hurlbut. In this, we’re told that the movie often used real ammo instead of CG or blanks. Okay – that info is worth a 10-second discussion in the commentary. Again, other than a smattering of bits from the shoot, there’s not much meat here.

Real SEALs fills two minutes, 32 seconds and delivers comments from Waugh, McCoy, Ajay, Mikey, Rosenberg, and Weimy. As the title implies, this one reinforces that the film features actual soldiers. Yeah, we know that – like the last two featurettes, this one tries to sell the movie and adds little to no real information.

Finally, Silent Warriors occupies two minutes, 50 seconds and features Ajay, Ray, Rorke, and Navy SEAL Captain Duncan Smith. Yes, it’s more promotional fluff – skip it.

We find a Music Video for Keith Urban’s “For You”. Like many, the video mixes movie shots and lip-synch footage, though it blends the two better than usual. The video sets the band shots in the desert and occasionally boasts explosions in the background, so these elements mesh with the film material pretty well. It’s not a great video, but it’s more effective than most in its genre.

We can also check out a Making of the Music Video featurette. It runs three minutes, 58 seconds and includes notes from Waugh, Rosenberg, Hurlbut and singer Keith Urban. We get a few minor notes about the video shoot, but don’t expect a whole lot, as it’s yet another insubstantial promo piece.

The disc opens with ads for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Get the Gringo. These also appear under Sneak Peek along with clips for This Means War, Bad Ass, and Homeland Season One. The trailer for Valor also pops up here.

A second disc provides a DVD Copy and a Digital Copy of Valor. This gives you a movie-only version of the film, so don’t expect any extras.

With a cast full of actual Navy SEALs, Act of Valor boasts a verisimilitude not found in most military films. However, it lacks a particularly interesting story and only succeeds when it digs into its action scenes; those can be very good, but the narrative and acting are subpar. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and audio as well as a set of supplements headlined by an informative audio commentary. I think the movie’s inconsistent but feel pleased with the quality of the Blu-ray itself.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 24
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main