The Guardian appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The disc presented an erratic but mostly satisfying transfer.
Sharpness usually worked well, but some exceptions occurred. While most of the movie offered nice delineation, a few shots came across as oddly soft and unfocused. Moderate edge haloes didn’t help this situation. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to materialize, and I saw no signs of source defects.
Guardian went with a fairly standard orange and teal palette, with an emphasis on blue-green. Within those constraints, the hues seemed accurate and well developed.
Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows offered good clarity and delineation. Other than the occasional bout of softness and some edge haloes, this became a reasonably good presentation.
Even better material came from the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of The Guardian. The movie’s many action sequences offered great opportunities for involving audio, and the mix didn’t disappoint.
Waves roared and crashed around us while helicopters zoomed. The track used all five channels to excellent effect and consistently impressed. Quieter scenes worked well too, as they showed nice involvement, but it was the more active pieces that made this an “A-“ mix.
Audio quality demonstrated strong support. Speech was natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems. The score sounded bright and bold, and effects demonstrated terrific range and clarity. They showed crisp highs and deep bass. I found nothing about which to complain during this excellent soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio showed more range and punch, while visuals were tighter and more accurate. Both clearly came from the same transfer, so though the format’s higher resolution made the image’s flaws more evident, the Blu-ray still surpassed the DVD.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras, and we open with an audio commentary from director Andrew Davis and screenwriter Ron L. Brinkerhoff. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific chat. They discuss script and story, cast and performances, sets, locations and water tanks, visual effects and filming at sea, research, realism and liberties, and other production basics.
At all times, the men offer a more than competent chat, and they dig into the expected notes. While I can’t find anything worthy of criticism in the commentary, I also can’t cite any elements that make it noteworthy.
The track does what it needs to do and nothing more. Davis and Brinkerhoff provide a decent exploration of their film, but they never give this commentary a level of insight or verve that would turn the conversation into something memorable.
Four Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending appear. We find “Randall and Skinner Square Off” (1:47), “Jake and Emily at the Laundromat” (2:01), “Lindsey Is Reassigned” (1:26) and “Jake Visits Emily At School” (1:51).
The “Alternate Ending” lasts three minutes, seven seconds. Of the four cut sequences, only “Reassigned” seems interesting, mainly because it lets us know what happened to the Lindsey character. The others are superfluous and dull.
I won’t relate what happens in the “Alternate Ending”, but if you’ve seen the final flick, you can probably guess. It’s predictable and perhaps superior to the ending that shows up in the movie. I don’t know – I don’t like the way the theatrical release finishes, but then again, this clip does seem lame.
We can watch the deleted scenes with or without commentary from Davis and Brinkerhoff. The “Alternate Ending” lacks commentary but comes with an intro from Davis; he gives us similar notes for it. The information proves useful as we learn about the cut scenes and find some nice details.
The Guardian: Making Waves fills 11 minutes, six seconds. We hear from Davis, producer Tripp Vinson, 2nd unit director Ronald Hersey, US Coast Guard consultant Jeff Loftus, USCG rescue swimmers/film advisors Bob Watson and Joseph “Butch” Flythe, USCG rescue swimmer trainees Eric Stoecker and Matt Schmidt, production designer Maher Ahmad, executive producer Peter MacGregor-Scott, visual effects supervisor William Mesa, stunt coordinator Alex Daniels, and actors Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Brian Geraghty, Clancy Brown, Sela Ward and Melissa Sagemiller.
“Waves” looks at research and authenticity, locations, sets and shooting the water sequences, actor training, cast and performances, Davis’s impact on the production, stunts, and hopes for the flick.
Should you expect “Waves” to come across as anything other than breathless and promotional? No, not really. Some decent shots from the set appear, and we learn a little about various production issues. However, the show remains superficial and never acts as a very interesting program.
Unsung Heroes: So Others May Live goes for five minutes, 36 seconds, and includes comments from Davis, Costner, Kutcher, Brown, Flythe, Watson, USCG helicopter pilots Ally Schuler, Nevada Smith, and Dan Molthen, USCG rescue swimmers Tom Bolen, Sara Faulkner and John Hall, and Watson’s daughters Katelyn and Sydney.
“Heroes” looks at actual Coast Guard rescue work. We see some video footage of their endeavors and hear remarks about their various attempts. There’s also a more specific focus on Hurricane Katrina.
This is a valuable topic and it could’ve been a fascinating program, but unfortunately “Heroes” doesn’t become that show. It throws out the expected praise and sentiment but fails to turn into something substantial. In essence, it’s another promo for the flick, so don’t anticipate a strong piece.
New to the Blu-ray, Filmmaker Q&A offers an interactive feature. With this activated, the viewer can “ask” the filmmakers various questions throughout the movie. The disc offers a menu of 48 questions across five domains. Some others pop up periodically at the top of the screen.
In theory this sounds like fun, but in execution, it fares less well. The “pop-up” items worked fine for me, as I could activate them, but whenever I clicked on any of the 48 “main” questions, I just saw a “Loading” icon and that was that.
Apparently the answers should materialize via audio, but at least on my player, they don’t. If you can get “Q&A” to work, you might enjoy it, but I can’t offer detailed thoughts about it because I couldn’t make it function correctly.
Note: reviews I found from 2007 – when this Blu-ray first hit shelves – indicate that the “Q&A” only worked on PS3s or PCs with BD drives. I don’t know if that was always supposed to be the case or if post-2007 Blu-ray players would be able to make the “Q&A” work, but it may explain why I can’t get it to function. It does seem weird to offer a feature that won’t be accessible to most viewers, though.
Despite its predictable nature and a “been there, done that” feel to the story, The Guardian manages to entertain – for a while. Unfortunately, the movie takes some serious wrong turns and runs way too long, factors make it badly flawed in the end. The Blu-ray brings us erratic but mostly good visuals as well as excellent audio and a decent set of bonus materials. This becomes a largely positive release for a frustrating film.