Blood Diamond appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a decent but erratic image.
For the most part, sharpness remained positive, though exceptions occurred. Wider shots tended to appear a bit soft and indistinct, a factor exacerbated by some light edge haloes.
Still, most of the flick appeared pretty well-defined, and I noticed no shimmering or jaggies. Print flaws seemed absent, though I detected some artifacting and a bit of a “digital” feel at times.
Colors tended toward a stylized green/brown impression, and these seemed fine. They didn’t dazzle, but the hues delivered the expected impression.
Blacks were mostly dark and deep, but shadows faltered somewhat, as low-light shots could seem a bit too thick. Though this was always a watchable – and often pleasing – presentation, the overall package felt like a “B-“.
No significant issues cropped up via the PCM 5.1 soundtrack of Blood Diamond, as the soundfield helped bring out a good sense of atmosphere. As one might expect, violent sequences used the spectrum in the most active manner.
Guns fired all around the room, and other instruments like trucks and helicopters zoomed from spot to spot with good clarity. General ambience was smooth and involving, while music showed good stereo imaging.
Audio quality seemed strong. Dialogue came across as natural and crisp, with no edginess or other problems.
Music sounded bright and bold, while effects were clean and realistic. Low-end response appeared more than satisfactory. Overall, this was a very good mix.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio offered greater breadth and involvement, while visuals appeared tighter and smoother. This wasn’t a great image but it improved on the DVD.
The package includes the same extras as the DVD as well as some new ones. In addition to the film’s trailer, we find an audio commentary with director Ed Zwick. He presents a running, screen-specific chat.
Zwick looks at bringing the story to the screen, the international nature of the production, sets, locations and issues connected to Africa, cast and performances, stunts and effects, research and facts, storytelling topics, cinematography, and some shoot specifics.
At no point does Zwick ever threaten to become a fascinating speaker, as he maintains a rather low-key, studious tone through the flick. Nonetheless, he covers the film well and gives us the requisite information we’d expect. Zwick gives us a pretty thorough look at Diamond and makes this a worthwhile commentary.
Blood on the Stone lasts 50 minutes, 19 seconds. Narrated by journalist Sorious Samura, the program looks at the history of “conflict diamonds” and their impact on Africa. We see how diamonds currently make it to market and attempts to prevent the sale of “conflict diamonds”.
We meet some former rebel soldiers and investigate the legality of various diamond mining and sales. Samura also gets involved with miners and others as he attempts to see how easy – or difficult – it would be to sell an illegal diamond.
Those elements make “Stone” a pretty good show. It doesn’t present us a great history of the issues, but it doesn’t really attempt to do so. It throws enough info our way to flesh out the topics, and Samura’s behind the scenes investigations add punch to the program. It provides a nice exposé of the current state of diamond smuggling.
Three featurettes follow. Becoming Archer goes for eight minutes, 34 seconds and brings notes from Zwick, stunt coordinator Paul Jennings, producer Marshall Herskovitz, and actors Leonardo Di Caprio and Jennifer Connelly.
We get notes about the characters as well as Di Caprio’s research, training and performance. Heavy on film snippets and light on insight, you won’t find much detail in “Archer”. It exists mostly to praise Di Caprio’s performance.
Journalists on the Front Line fills five minutes, 15 seconds with comments from Zwick, Connelly, Di Caprio, and Herskovitz. “Line” focuses on Connelly’s preparation for the part and her performance along with thoughts about real-life inspirations for Maddy. Ala “Archer”, “Line” feels fairly self-congratulatory and it comes with precious few interesting notes.
Finally, Inside the Siege of Freetown takes up 10 minutes, 33 seconds and includes Zwick, Samura, Di Caprio, Herskovitz, Jennings,
executive producer Kevin De La Noy, producer Paula Weinstein, special effects supervisor Neil Corbould, supervising armorer Nick Komornick, 1st AD Nilo Otero, stunt supervisor Thomas Struthers and actor Djimon Hounsou.
The featurette looks at the recreation of the actual battle. We learn of the emphasis on reality plus various stunts and effects challenges. We also hear of storyboarding and planning.
After the two puffy prior programs, “Siege” works a bit better. Though it never becomes terribly detailed, it gives us a good overview of the appropriate concerns. We get a decent examination of the way the filmmakers filmed the big action sequence.
The disc also includes a music video for “Shine On ‘Em” by Nas. The clip mixes movie clips, lip-synching and images that illustrate the anti-conflict diamond theme. The video doesn’t totally succeed, but I admire that it tries to confront the “bling-bling” hip-hop culture to connect the bloodshed to the rappers’ flashy ways. This makes it more ambitious than most.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray, we find 22 Focus Points. These video clips fill a total of 46 minutes, four seconds and offer production diaries. These concentrate on shots from the set, and they also toss in comments from Zwick, De La Noy, Herskovitz, Samura, Otero, Jennings, Corbould, Hounsou, Weinstein, Connelly, Di Caprio, supervising art director Peter Wenham, environmental officer Brandon Pretorius, HOD greens Terry Chicken, locations Johan Van Huyssteen, construction coordinator Clive Pollick, costume designer Ngiila Dickson, off-set 2nd AD Geoff Dibben, supervising armourers Nick Komornicki and Simon Atherton, and actor Kagiso Kuypers.
As noted, these snippets take us to the various sets, and they offer a nice array of observations about various aspects of the production. They add to our understanding of the film.
At its best, Blood Diamond provides an involving look at how gem smuggling affects a war-torn country. Unfortunately, it doesn’t often stay at its best, as the movie degenerates into a trite and preachy tale before too long. The Blu-ray offers decent picture along with solid audio and an informative set of supplements. This is an inconsistent movie.
To rate this film visit the original review of BLOOD DIAMOND