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Rob Reiner
Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore, Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon
Writing Credits:
Aaron Sorkin

Lt. Daniel Kaffee, a Navy lawyer who has never seen the inside of the courtroom, defends two stubborn Marines who have been accused of murdering a colleague.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Uncompressed PCM 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
German Uncompressed PCM 5.1
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 138 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 9/18/2007

• Audio Commentary with Director Rob Reiner
• “Code of Conduct” Featurette
• “From Stage to Screen” Featurette
• 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.


A Few Good Men [Blu-Ray] (1992)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 1, 2016)

Few people will agree with me, but I like jury duty. I’ve always been fascinated with the workings of the law, and I think it’s simply a lot of fun to become involved with the process. How could it not be entertaining to watch the events unfold? For me, even the most pedestrian case can be compelling just because there’s always something at stake.

Of course, trials are more interesting when the outcome has a lot riding on it. That’s why Hollywood has yet to release a film in which the climactic trial features an argument over a traffic ticket. Courtroom dramas are some of the most thrilling movies even though they often include virtually no overt action. Through words and ideas they become stimulating and occasionally frenetic and stressful, but all in a good way.

1992’s A Few Good Men falls into that category. The most action we find comes from some characters who take light batting practice for their softball team. Otherwise, the movie uses dialogue and storytelling to create all of its excitement, and it does so quite well.

Two Marines stationed at Guantanamo Bay are accused of killing one of their compatriots. A cocky young lawyer named Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) - the son of a legendary litigator – gets the case, and he plans to cop a quick plea bargain.

However, another lawyer thinks there’s more going on with the case; JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) wants to dig deeper into the events. Since the defendants - Lance Corporal Harold Dawson (Wolfgang Bodison) and Private First Class Louden Downey (James Marshall) - admit their actions but deny guilt, Kaffee has no choice but to take the hard road.

Kaffee and the others discover that all’s not fine and dandy in the Marine Corps. Base commander Colonel Nathan Jessep (Jack Nicholson) seems to be deeply involved in the affair, and it’s up to Kaffee and the others to pin down the nature of the events. Dawson and Downey don’t deny their involvement, but they indicate that they acted under orders, so the litigators need to find proof of this and discover how high the guilt goes up the chain of command.

The core story of Men offers nothing special, but the military involvement makes it more interesting. Marines aren’t exactly a casual bunch, so the intensity of commitment to their work means that this will be a more difficult nut to crack. The plot progresses in a logical manner that can seem a little too convenient at times but still holds up fairly well under scrutiny.

While the script to Men seems reasonably intelligent and director Rob Reiner manages to keep the pacing on an even keel, it’s really the actors who carry the show. That’s somewhat unusual for this kind of piece; courtroom dramas generally are most dependent on their scripts. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay is definitely a nice piece of work, but I don’t think it would have led the film to be a success on its own.

Instead, the solid cast ensures that Men becomes more compelling than the average legal potboiler. In a way, Men seems to set the stage for Cruise’s next film, 1993’s The Firm. While the two share a background in the legal profession, The Firm has little to do with law itself; the partnership mentioned in the title could have been any of a number of other organizations and the movie would work just as well.

The connection shared by the two films stems from the casting, as both bolster themselves with deep groups of professionals. A look through the credits for Men finds a stunning roster of talents; in addition to leads Cruise, Nicholson and Moore, we get Kevin Bacon, Kiefer Sutherland, Christopher Guest, J.T. Walsh, Kevin Pollak and others. All of the name actors acquit themselves nicely, with special credit going to Cruise and Nicholson.

In regard to Tom, I can’t say that his performance as Kaffee requires him to stretch his skills. After all, at that point in his career, Cruise had played about a billion other handsome, slick and cocky professionals who prove their talents after a few periods of self-doubt.

Does Kaffee really differ from his roles in Top Gun or The Color of Money? Not tremendously, but Cruise adds a looseness to the role that suits him well.

During his audio commentary, Reiner states that this was the first time Cruise played a role with any humor to it. That statement is preposterously wrong, as most of Cruise’s characters were somewhat flippant and jokey; often their main flaw is that they’re too smirky and willing to laugh at everything and they don’t take things seriously. Hell, Cruise first made his name in Risky Business, which was a comedy; how could Reiner think this essentially-serious role was Cruise’s first comedic part?

I don’t know, but I won’t fault Cruise for his director’s memory lapses. Cruise does add a nicely humorous tone to the character when necessary, and he also makes Kaffee fairly believable when it counts. He can overplay some scenes - one drunken tirade comes off as too flamboyant - but as a whole, Cruise grounds the film and gives it heart.

On the other hand, Nicholson lends power to Men. The role of Jessep doesn’t require anything new for Jack, but he brings a weight to the presence that’s invaluable. Jessep is a big-shot in the military, and because of Nicholson’s prominence, we feel this status before he even speaks a line. In one scene, he strides into the courtroom, and Nicholson demonstrates the stature necessary in a powerful manner.

Within the lesser-known talents, Wolfgang Bodison is the biggest treat, even though he lacked experience. Reiner maintains that Bodison had no performing experience whatsoever, a statement that may not be true; IMDB states that Bodison appeared in a 1984 episode of Murder, She Wrote. Even with that, it seems clear that Bodison was very inexperienced prior to Men.

You wouldn’t know that from his work in the film. He provides a terrific presence as Dawson, and he adds life to the role that doesn’t exist in the script. The part is small but crucial, and his performance holds up nicely in the face of all that star power.

Ultimately, A Few Good Men provides a fairly solid legal thriller. Almost half of the film takes place within a courtroom, so if you don’t find that sort of action interesting, you’ll likely not care for the flick.

For those of us who love the sparring that takes place in court, the movie offers a strong and compelling tale. Backed by a stellar cast, A Few Good Men becomes a well-made production that suffers from a few small missteps but generally provides a provocative and entertaining affair.

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

A Few Good Men appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a good but erratic image.

Overall sharpness was fine, though some soft spots occurred. Parts of the movie provided excellent delineation, but I saw some elements that lacked great delineation. I sensed a bit of noise reduction, and I think that led to the mild softness.

No concerns with moiré effects or jagged edges occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained minor. I saw a couple of tiny specks but nothing more than that.

In terms of colors, Men favored a warm golden tone. Blues popped up for some of the more dramatic Marine scenes, but the golden tint dominated. These hues looked fine, as they showed appropriate delineation. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows were fine. A couple of night shots were a bit thick, but those remained minor. Overall, the movie offered a mostly positive presentation.

A Few Good Men offered a subdued but decent Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack. Since this wasn’t exactly an action-packed flick, I didn’t anticipate a great deal of activity from the mix, and my expectations were met by this laid-back soundfield.

The forward channels displayed nice stereo separation for the film’s score, and a smattering of ambient effects cropped up from the side speakers as well. Actually, I suppose I heard more than just a “smattering” of sound, as the forward environment created a fairly decent atmosphere; at times it could provide some solid elements, such as cars that sped from one speaker to another. Still, there wasn’t a lot for the mix to do, so I’ll stick with my “smattering” judgment.

The surrounds became passive partners in this equation. From what I could tell, they featured little more than general reinforcement for the music and effects heard in the forward spectrum. As such, though they made the track sound a little more broad and engaging, they didn’t add a whole lot to the experience.

Audio quality generally seemed fine. At times speech appeared a little thin, but for the most part I felt that dialogue came across as acceptably natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to edginess or intelligibility.

Effects seemed clear and accurate. Except for one gunshot and some thunder, dynamics were not impressive, but they had no reason to be; the track featured very few elements that pressed the range to perform.

Music featured greater depth, however, as Marc Shaiman’s score presented nicely tight and rich bass at times. The music definitely provided the strongest aspects of the soundtrack, as the score sounded warm and crisp throughout the film. Ultimately, although it was a very mild mix, the audio for A Few Good Men aptly complemented the film.

How did the Blu-ray compare to the Special Edition DVD from 2001? Audio was a little more dynamic, while visuals looked tighter and cleaner. Though the image was a bit erratic, it still showed obvious improvements.

The Blu-ray duplicates most of the DVD’s extras, and we start with a screen-specific running audio commentary from director Rob Reiner. Other Reiner commentaries tended to be fairly weak: Reiner’s MO was to sit silently through most of the piece and occasionally offer some fairly obvious or unrevealing information.

Expect no deviations from that pattern as Reiner sleeps through Men. He rarely speaks, and when he does manage to open his pie-hole, he rarely musters any statements more compelling than “he/she is a wonderful actor”. On occasion, Reiner does tell us some moderately informative details, especially related to changes made from the original play.

Otherwise, however, this becomes yet another drab and lifeless commentary from Reiner. The man desperately needs an interviewer to be present. Would that ensure higher quality? No, but it couldn’t hurt. As it stands, Reiner’s chat for Men bores.

Next up, we get Code Of Conduct, a general look at the production. During this 34-minute, 51-second program, we hear from Reiner, writer Aaron Sorkin, and actors Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Keifer Sutherland, James Marshall, Wolfgang Bodison, Kevin Pollak, Christopher Guest and Noah Wyle.

As a whole, “Code” offers a watchable but unspectacular little piece. I thought there was too much emphasis on the usual “happy talk” that dominated Reiner’s commentary, but the variety of participants made the program seem fairly interesting. It’s good to learn the actors’ perspectives on the film, and a few good anecdotes arise along the way, such as the description of the difficulties Sutherland experienced behind the wheel of a Humvee. It’s a fairly average documentary, but I thought it merited a look.

After this we get From Stage to Screen. At only 13 minutes, 45 seconds, this program runs much shorter than “Code of Conduct” but it offers a lot more concentrated information about the film. With info from Reiner and Sorkin, we learn the project’s genesis and the path it took to go from a play to a movie. Sorkin dominates the piece and he adds some nice details, such as his crash course in screenwriting.

Reiner’s comments largely duplicate some data about alterations made to the script in order to eliminate some plot holes. Frankly, between “Code of Conduct” and “From Stage to Screen”, you’ll hear virtually all of Reiner’s useful statements from the commentary; this fact renders that lousy track even more superfluous. In any case, I really enjoyed “From Stage to Screen”; it was a tight and informative little documentary.

Previews offers ads for Reign Over Me< and Casino Royale. We find no trailer for A Few Good Men.

At 138 minutes, A Few Good Men runs a little long, but most of the film seems compelling and taut, with only occasional slow spots. I love courtroom dramas, and this one provides a lot of tense legal action that makes it endearing to me. The Blu-ray brings us mostly positive picture and audio as well as a few supplements. Nothing about the Blu-ray excels, but it offers a generally good rendition of an involving film.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.6818 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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