Behind Enemy Lines appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. An early Blu-ray, the transfer showed its age.
Sharpness became one of many iffy elements. Close-ups showed reasonable clarity but wider shots tended to seem tentative and less than precise. Mild edge haloes exacerbated this looseness, as did the apparent use of digital noise reduction.
The perplexing use of DNR, I should say, as the movie displayed an odd grain structure. At times the image could seem scrubbed, which gave skin tones an unnatural tint, and when grain did appear, it looked off.
Check out a shot of a jet in flight at the 18:05 mark, for instance. The shot displayed obvious grain, but when the camera panned down, the grain remained stuck in place. This wasnít the first instance of ďfrozen grainĒ Iíve seen, but it was one of the more blatant Ė and distracting Ė examples.
I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, but digital artifacts crept into the image in addition to the aforementioned DNR and haloes. In terms of print flaws, a smattering of specks and blemishes appeared, but nothing major.
For the most part, Lines featured a fairly limited palette - the war-torn Balkans donít exactly cry out for eye-popping hues Ė and the Blu-ray kept things low-key Ė maybe a little too low-key, as the color tended to appear bland. There was a blandness to the hues that made them seem faded and dull.
Blacks were a bit on the inky side, but not bad. Shadows were fine in exteriors but suffered during interior shots, which tended to appear flat and murky. This wasnít the worst image Iíve seen, but it barely qualified to get a ďC-ď.
At least Lines featured an active and vibrant DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield. The audio pushed all five channels, as it used the entire spectrum to terrific advantage.
Of course, the action sequences made the strongest impact. Jet take-offs filled the environment with a visceral impact, and the scene in which Burnett and Stackhouse try to evade the missiles offered ready-made demo material; the manner in which both the plane and the rockets flew about the room seemed impressive.
Even quieter scenes still used the entire spectrum. Music showed good stereo imaging and presence, and the track always provided a solid sense of atmosphere. Granted, youíre not likely to use the simple sequences to impress your friends, but they helped make the track even more worthwhile.
Nonetheless, the action bits remained the most compelling. Anyone can fill the speakers with sound, but the designers of Lines did so with style and fluidity; the mix fit together seamlessly at all times.
Audio quality also appeared excellent. Dialogue came across as natural and distinct, and I discerned no edginess or issues related to intelligibility. I felt speech got slightly buried under the other sound at times, but that probably made sense within the context of the scenes.
Music came across as bright and dynamic. The track replicated the score with fine fidelity and range, and the music always seemed vivid and punchy.
Of course, the best parts of the track came from the effects, which never ceased to astound. At all times, they sounded clean and crisp, as even the loudest jet sequences displayed no roughness or distortion.
They also packed a serious blast. Low-end response appeared fantastic, as the track boasted deep and tight bass that really accentuated the experience. This was a top-notch soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD release? Audio showed extra punch and range, as the mix took advantage of the lossless DTS-HD MA track. Visuals looked a bit tighter, but not as much as Iíd like. This was a small improvement over the DVD but not much of one, as the Blu-ray came with too many problems.
The Blu-ray includes some of the DVDís extras, and it gives us two separate audio commentaries. The first features director John Moore and editor Martin Smith, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They offer a chatty and engaging piece that covers a lot of territory.
Though Smith adds a few good notes, the gregarious Moore clearly dominates the commentary. He relates a slew of interesting details, from working with the cast to changes made in the script to alterations dictated by the MPAA and a bunch of other topics. At times, the track degenerates somewhat into the standard ďeveryone was greatĒ happy talk, but for the most part, it remains solid.
The second commentary comes from producer John Davis and executive producer Wyck Godfrey, both of whom also sat together for their running, screen-specific piece. Frankly, I didnít expect much from this track, since producers often come across as bland, but I really like their chat.
Though some redundancy exists, they discuss a lot of information not covered in the first piece and they do so in an entertaining manner. While more balanced than the Moore/Smith commentary, Davis dominates this one; Godfrey chimes in frequently, however.
They go over many notes from the producerís perspective and offer a good little primer on their responsibilities. Itís a nicely informative and worthwhile commentary that kept me consistently engaged.
The package also includes a mix of trailers. We find promos for Lines itself as well as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Kiss of the Dragon, Fantastic Four (2005), Speed and Phone Booth.
What does the Blu-ray lose from the DVD? It drops extended/deleted scenes, a featurette, and some pre-vis material. These arenít massive omissions but it still disappoints that the disc leaves out pre-existing features.
While films like Behind Enemy Lines often work for me, this one doesnít. I canít totally explain why it falls short of the mark, but the filmís excessive simplicity and overheated jingoism leaves me cold. The Blu-ray offers excellent audio and two good commentaries but picture quality seems mediocre at best. Even though Iím not wild about the movie, Iíd like for it to get a new transfer, as this one seems problematic.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of BEHIND ENEMY LINES