Black Hawk Down appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. All three prior DVD incarnations of Hawk looked great, and the “Extended Cut” continued that trend.
Sharpness always appeared immaculate. Even during extreme wide shots, I found the image to remain nicely crisp and well defined. At no point did I discern any signs of softness or fuzziness in this tight picture. Some minor moiré effects cropped up when mesh netting appeared, but those were slight, and I detected no concerns related to jagged edges or edge enhancement. Print flaws also seemed absent. As part of the production design, some moderate grain showed up on occasion, but I thought this appeared insubstantial, and I didn’t feel it interfered with the presentation. Otherwise, the image seemed to be totally free of any defects such as grit, speckles, marks or other issues.
Hawk featured a very stylized palette. Most of the movie offered intense tans and greens, with an occasional splash of red or blue tossed in as well. Despite the inherently bland look of the film, I felt the DVD replicated the tones quite nicely. The colors appeared vivid and distinct at all times, as I saw no signs of bleeding, noise, or other concerns. Black levels also came across as dense and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately thick but not excessively heavy. Overall, Black Hawk Down provided a strong visual experience.
Also positive – and consistent with prior DVDs - was the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While not on a par with something such as Saving Private Ryan, the audio did the job well for the most part. The soundfield presented an active affair that created a nice sense of the setting. All five channels received a good workout, as the mix featured fine stereo separation for the music and integrated effects material well. Material blended together neatly and smoothly, and the different elements seemed appropriately localized as well. The surrounds added a good sense of depth to the package, and they contributed quite a lot of unique audio during the battles. Since most of the movie consisted of fight scenes, this meant the rear speakers received a lot of work.
Audio quality appeared fine. Though much of it must have been looped, dialogue seemed clear and natural throughout the film. I heard no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess. Music was bright and distinct and showed nice fidelity; the mix of score and songs came across with robust and lively tones. Effects seemed crisp and concise. Even with all the loud action onscreen, I never heard any distortion, and the material appeared accurate and vivid. Low-end response came across quite well, as the movie presented tight and taut bass. Overall, Black Hawk Down provided a satisfying soundtrack.
Not too many extras appear here. One of them repeats from the special edition release that came out in 2003. Entitled Ambush in Mogadishu, the documentary first appeared as an episode of Frontline on PBS. It runs 54 minutes and 58 seconds and uses historical footage and interviews. We get comments with Somali community leader Mrs. Abshir, Army Rangers Sgt. Randy Ramaglia, Specialist Mike Kurth, PFC David Floyd, Sgt, Keni Thomas, Specialist Jason Moore, Specialist Gregg Gould, PFC Anton Berendsen, Specialist Peter Squeglia, Specialist Aaron Hand, Col. Kenneth Allard (Ret.) of the National War College, Khalil Dale of the Red Cross, Director of Operations General Anthony Zinni, Ambassador Robert Oakley, Senator Richard Lugar, Deputy UN Commander Lt. General Thomas Montgomery (Ret.), Deputy Special Envoy Walter Clarke, US Army Colonel (Ret.) Dr. Kenneth Allard, Aidid Defense Minister Abdi Hassan Awaleh, CIA Special Agent Gene Cullen, Richard Gabriel of the US War College, Sgt. John Belman, Aidid militia commander Captain Haad, Staff Sgt. John Burns, Lt. Col. Larry Joyce, and Sgt. Mike Pringle.
“Ambush” looks at the facts behind the attack involved in the movie. It provides a nice emphasis on the background behind the mission as well as the political climate. The stories from the soldiers involved also continue to seem moving and involving. “Ambush” provides a solid program.
The disc also includes a Preview of the extended cut of The Patriot.
Gather ‘round and watch Sony milk that cow! With this “Extended Cut”, we get a fourth DVD incarnation of Black Hawk Down, one that does nothing to improve on its predecessors. It offered the same excellent picture and audio of the earlier discs, and the longer version of the film doesn’t offer improvements over the theatrical cut. Just being longer doesn’t automatically make it better. Though not worse than the original version, the extended take doesn’t bring anything memorable to the table.
In my book, the Special Edition of Black Hawk Down remains the one to own. It packs on tons of great extras for a rich look at the project and its related history. If supplements don’t matter, then go with the Superbit edition – if you have DTS capabilities. The Superbit disc’s DTS track outshines the Dolby Digital mix found on the other three DVDs and makes it the best presentation of the movie. If you can’t play DTS, then just grab whichever Hawk is the cheapest. If that’s the “Extended Cut”, then snag it, but don’t go out of your way for it.
To rate this film visit the original review of BLACK HAWK DOWN