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U-571

U-571
A Universal Home Video Release
2000, 117 Minutes, Color, Rated PG13 (PG in Canada)

Starring:  Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel, Jack Noseworthy, Jon Bon Jovi, Matthew Settle
List Price:  $26.99 USD, released 10/24/00
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Single Sided, Dual Layered (DVD-9)
Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English DD 5.1, English DTS 5.1, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Audio commentary, featurettes, documentaries, cast and crew biographies and filmographies, production notes, theatrical trailers, scene selection.

Soon after a U.S. Navy Captain and his crew begin to enjoy their well deserved 48 hour leave, they’re rushed back into duty. On a top-secret assignment, they must disguise themselves as a Nazi U-boat and meet up with another U-boat that’s stranded dead in the water. The catch: the true rescuers are also on their way, so they must arrive first, capture the German decoding machine, and sink the U-571 before the opposition catches on to what is really happening. But shortly after arriving, things begin to go wrong. The other ship shows up sooner than expected and blows up the U.S. crew’s submarine – along with the captured German POWs – leaving only a handful of U.S. men stranded on the U-boat. Their only hope of survival is to figure out how to operate it and get away from the Germans as quickly as possible. But since the U-boat has already seen disasters, that won’t be an easy feat.

U-571’s video is absolutely fantastic, bringing up Universal’s overall quality level several notches. The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer features rock-solid black levels, rich yet accurate color and great detail levels. Chroma noise and film grain is minimal, plus no artificial edge enhancement is there to spoil the smooth view. Despite the movie taking place on a dark and dismal submarine, brightness levels were quite adequate throughout. Overall this is great reference material for any home theater. The dual-layered disc contains 8.0 gigabytes of data, including extra features. The film is divided into 20 chapters and features English captions and subtitles.

If you’re looking for a great surround-action soundtrack to run through your audio system, U-571’s your movie. Although I reviewed the Dolby Digital 5.1 track, the DVD also includes a DTS 5.1 encoded version. The rear channels are positively teeming with ambient and direct effects – the kind that kept a permanent grin on my face throughout the entire movie. Forks falling off tables, water dripping or depth charges booming – it’s all there. Speaking of depth charges, your subwoofer’s going to get a real workout during this flick’s high-impact explosions. Now this is truly the way to show off your gear! My only complaint is that the dialogue track was not recorded at quite high enough a level – oftentimes it was difficult to make out exactly what was being said, something I haven’t seen in a modern movie for some time.

U-571’s snazzy (yet non-annoying) animated menus lead to loads of extra features. The first is "Spotlight On Location", a 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette containing interviews with the director and cast, in full-screen video and stereo sound. Next is a feature commentary track with director Jonathan Mostow – interestingly it’s only with Mostow and is informative if not spontaneous. The dialogue goes into the production of the film, special effects and plot line. Continuing, the 6-minute documentary "Constructing U-571" goes into the construction and use of their replica U-boat, which was actually a full-sized, sea-worthy, diesel-powered boat that they took out to sea to film. There’s "Inside the Enigma", a 7-minute look into the coding machine the Germans invented – and what everyone else was after. "Britain Captures the U-110" features a 9-minute interview with the British Captain who first captured an Enigma device.

"A Submariner’s WWII Experience" features an 8-minute interview with a veteran from WWII who acted as a technical consultant on U-571. "U.S. Naval Archives: Capturing the U-505" is an old newsreel from when they boarded the U-505. Finally, there’s the original theatrical trailer in 1.85:1 non-anamorphic video, trailers for EDtv and Pitch Black, text production notes, cast and crew biography and filmographies and static chapter selection screens.

Despite some technical glitches with the premise of the film, U-571 is a very good action movie with plenty of suspense. The DVD release presents it with fantastic audio and video transfers and a worthwhile compliment of special features – all at a price that’s easy to manage.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on November 20, 2000.


Movie:
Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
Supplements:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony 32" XBR250 WEGA TV using Component
Nuance Spatial Baby Grand 3E & StarSat

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