Two WWII films in one week! Astounding. What’s more incredible is that both films are worth recommending. But while Valkyrie was a tale of Nazi officer’s rebellion (read my review here), Defiance is all about a couple of ordinary citizens whose struggle to survive leads them to motivate hundreds of civilians to rise up against an evil regime. Sounds kind of like Star Wars, I know. But there isn’t a hint of fantasy here. No ewoks or Jedi. Just Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber camped out in the forest with their ass-kicking boots on.
I can admit that if this film hadn’t been based on actual events, I probably wouldn’t have been as impressed. In fact, it might have bored me. It’s a little wooden, moving with all the grace of an uptight schoolmarm, preoccupied with manners and perception. Director Edward Zwick is aware of all the notes he has to hit, plucking the right heart-strings at just the right moment. But to me, it all feels too packaged and prepared.
Nevertheless, the film works on a lot of levels. And the disc works on every level. What an impressive Blu-ray! Defiance looks so sharp and detailed in 1080p, despite the fact that it’s all shot under a dark canopy of forest leaves. It really has no business looking this good! It should, by all rights, be a touch muddy and soft, suffering from the diffusion of light in the forest but this thing looks bright and crisp.The photography is gorgeous and the transfer really goes that extra mile to bring it to life.
The Defiance Blu-ray is rounded out with a comprehensive package of bonus features: a somewhat dry commentary by director, Zwick, a handful of featurettes (notable among which is an excellent look at the scoring of the film) and a couple of trailers, all in beautiful 1080p HD.
Ok. This is far from my favourite movie but there’s something about director Sam Medes style and something about Thomas Newton‘s music…maybe it just reminds me of their previous success, American Beauty, a thematically similar but far superior film. That vibe they create, the feeling of this film, the sort of fanciful suburban Americana dreamland punctuated by the pain of reality is strangely attractive. Revolutionary Road has got some powerhouse performances, true. Leo and Kate (and unsung hero of the film, Michael Shannon) all perform their asses off. Roger Deakins shoots some sumptuous suburban images. Newton’s music always hits the right note. But for some reason, the film comes off a bit uneven – like an early draft of a stage play…
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