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Ang Lee
Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund
Writing Credits:
Jean-Christophe Castelli

19-year-old Billy Lynn is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$901,062 on 1,176 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

113 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 2/14/2017

• “Into Battle and Onto the Field” Featurette
• “Assembling a Cast” Featurette
• “Recreating the Halftime Show” Featurette
• “The Brotherhood of Combat” Featurette
• “Technology As Art: Changing the Language of Cinema” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; 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.


Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 12, 2017)

Four years after he won the Best Director Oscar for 2012’s Life of Pi, Ang Lee returned with 2016’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Based on Ben Fountain’s 2012 novel, we meet Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), a teenage soldier in Iraq who goes to extremes as he attempts to rescue injured Sergeant Virgil “Shroom” Breem (Vin Diesel) during a 2004 battle.

Because cameras capture this event, Billy becomes a famous hero back home in the States. To milk this positive publicity, the government sends Billy and his fellow members of Bravo Squad on a “victory tour” that culminates in an appearance at a major football game. We follow Billy’s path to this event – with flashbacks to show elements of his life and the battle that brought him fame.

When it hit screens, Walk threatened to get more attention for its technical innovations than for the film itself. Ang Lee chose to shoot the movie in 4K 3D at 120 frames per second, technology not previously used for a feature.

Awesome – except for the fact that very, very few theaters could play the movie as intended. A whopping six screens around the world ran the film as shot, so the rest showed it at good old 24 frames per second.

Walk flopped at the box office, but I suspect its commercial failure didn’t result from these technical areas. The film suffered from the worst reviews of Lee’s career, and I doubt audiences stuck in the middle of an ugly political year wanted to suffer through reminders of the unpopular Iraq War.

Based on trailers, I thought Walk looked interesting, but those mediocre reviews pushed me away from it during its theatrical run. If I’d been able to see it at that kooky super-high frame rate, I would’ve gone for novelty, but absent that option, I skipped it – like pretty much everybody else.

While I remain curious to see how the film would look when screened as intended, I can’t say I missed anything in terms of dramatic impact. A mess of a movie, Walk feels like a melange of other – better – war tales.

Really, the biggest problem with Walk stems from its apparent lack of purpose. The film embraces so many different war-related threads that they all blend into one big not-so-coherent collection of clichés.

You won’t find many war picturetropes untouched in Walk, and you may wonder what goals the movie wants to achieve. At times, the flick comes across as a satire about the cynical attempts to sway public perception, and on other occasions, it threatens to become a biting view of PTSD.

We also get standard Action Movie Battles and requisite family scenes that show what Billy left behind. Oh, and there’s an impromptu romance so corny that it feels almost like an intentional spoof.

Honestly, Walk embraces so many trite elements that I started to wonder if Lee meant it to become a parody. As the film progressed, I entertained the notion that Billy actually died on the battlefield, and Walk exists as a fantasy that runs through his brain as his body fails.

Having thought about it, I’m still not entirely convinced this isn’t the case, but I may be giving Walk credit for spiritual ambition it fails to possess. As it stands, I feel there’s a possibility it’s more allegorical than literal, but I doubt it – I suspect the movie doesn’t tell the “dying breath” imaginary tale about which I speculate, as we don’t get hints that point this way beyond the slew of clichés.

Despite a pretty good cast, the actors come across as flat and bland – especially Alwyn. He fails to bring the slightest hint of charisma or personality to our lead, and that leaves Billy as a bland cipher.

All the other characters give us more of those pesky clichés and fail to become remotely interesting. Walk does little to develop the roles beyond standard movie tropes, and the actors don’t bring much personality to them.

Except maybe for Garrett Hedlund as Sgt. David Dime, the leader of Bravo. Hedlund manages some edge and personality – enough that I often wished the movie would shift focus to him instead of boring old Billy. Dime strikes us as a character with an interesting life/backstory, while Billy’s existence comes straight out of Hollywood War Movie Cliché Central.

Given Lee’s ample talents as a director, I can’t blame the movie’s dullness entirely on the script. Sure, the screenplay bears a lot of the responsibility, as it creates the lifeless dialogue and the one-dimensional characters.

But Lee boasts too much skill not to overcome at least some of these flaws. Unfortunately, he doesn’t – and he may make some of the weaknesses even worse. Walk gives us nothing new in its genre and ends up as a boring, unfocused dud.

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

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. From start to finish, the movie offered a terrific transfer.

At all times, sharpness excelled. Virtually no softness ever impacted the image, as it remained tight and concise. The image lacked any shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent as well. No print flaws ever appeared.

Colors emphasized teal at times, but amber and other hues showed up as well. These worked well and demonstrated strong clarity. Blacks seemed deep and rich, while shadows brought us nice smoothness and delineation. This because a top-notch visual presentation.

While good, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked less well, mainly because it only flared to life on a few occasions. Despite the movie’s military focus, Walk included only a couple of short battle scenes. Those boasted nice involvement and activity from all five speakers, but they didn’t use up enough running time to make a substantial impression.

In addition, some scenes at the football game contributed lively material – especially during the titular halftime show. With pyrotechnics and music at the fore, these sequences offered a fine sense of the action. Again, these didn’t fill a lot of the movie, though, so they only added so much to the soundtrack’s overall impression.

Beyond these few standout scenes, the mix emphasized general ambience. This meant the football stadium gave us a nice feel for the setting, and other segments fared pretty well, too. These sequences just didn’t have a lot to do, though, so they meant the soundfield remained avergae much of the time.

Audio quality satisfied. Other than a few awkwardly looped bits, speech seemed natural and concise, while music was lively and full. Percussive elements packed a good low-end punch, especially when we got the drumming during the halftime show.

When allowed to shine, effects also demonstrated fine range and impact. The war scenes showed strong dimensionality and added oomph via tight bass. Because the soundfield often remained semi-lackluster, this wasn’t a great mix, but it did boast a few impressive moments.

We find four featurettes. Into the Battle and Onto the Field runs nine minutes, 21 seconds and includes comments from director Ang Lee, producers Stephen Cornwell and Marc Platt, screenwriter Jean-Christophe Castelli, author Ben Fountain, technical supervisor Ben Gervais, editor Tim Squyres, executive producer Brian Bell, director of photography John Toll, and actors Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Chris Tucker, Steve Martin, Beau Knapp, and Arturo Castro.

“Field” looks at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, technical challenges related to 3D/high frame rate, and editing. Parts of “Field” add good information, but the end product lacks much depth.

For the 11-minute, 29-second Assembling a Cast, we hear from Lee, Hedlund, Alwyn, Platt, Diesel, Martin, Ticker, Stewart, casting director Amy Kaufman, and actor Makenzie Leigh. As expected, “Assembling” examines cast and performances. It becomes a decent overview but not better than that.

Recreating the Halftime Show fills six minutes, 27 seconds with info from Lee, Alwyn, Toll, live entertainment consultants Charlie Haykel and Don Mischer, field supervisor Kristen Terry, halftime show lighting consultant Bob Dickinson, and actors Mason Lee and Ismael Cruz Cordova. Here we learn about some of the complications involved with the shoot of the halftime performance. Like its predecessors, the featurette offers a smattering of details but doesn’t deliver much real insight.

Finally, we go to The Brotherhood of Combat. It takes up four minutes, 24 seconds and features Alwyn, Hedlund, Ang Lee, Knapp, Mason Lee, Castro, Cordova, stunt coordinator JJ Perry, military consultant Mark Wachter, and actors Brian “Astro” Bradley and Barney Harris. We get notes about the actors’ boot camp. Again, the program becomes fluffy and generally insubstantial.

Six Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 10 minutes, 18 seconds. The first accounts for one-third of that total time. It offers backstory for the Bravo soldiers and shows them on their promo tour prior the football game. Some of this seems interesting, but much of it offers clumsy – and eventually redundant – exposition.

Most of the rest offer minor embellishments such as the soldiers’ trip to a strip bar the night before the game. Most feel unnecessary, though I do like a flashback to Billy’s time in Iraq, as it adds to his narrative in a minor way.

The disc opens with ads for Inferno, The Magnificent Seven, Passengers, Resident Evil: Vendetta and Underworld: Blood Wars. No trailer for Walk.

Ang Lee may be the “visionary director” that this disc’s publicity claims, but that doesn’t make Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk a good movie. A slow, meandering mess of barely connected scenes, the film lacks real purpose and goes nowhere. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals along with generally good audio and mostly mediocre supplements. Walk turns into a true disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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