G.I. Jane Blu-ray Review
PictureTo be honest, it has been a long time since I've seen this film on DVD and, since I don't already own it on SD, I can't do a specific comparison. However, I have to say that I'm more than a little disappointed with the visual transfer that this BD-25 offers. Coming in with a 2.35:1 ratio, the image suffers from a smattering of grain in places, some noise here and there and a couple of faint pops and nicks. But none of this would be a problem if the image in question had that high-resolution that we crave from the format. As it stands, G.I. Jane looks dull and flat and worst yet, soft and indistinct. Now, it is true that a lot of these shortcomings stem from Scott's style and the filming choices that he has made - he favours a strange, contrast-altered picture that washes out some colours and has everyone appearing as though they acting beneath a vast tarpaulin - but the BD transfer could, at least, have allowed for some three-dimensionality and a bit of sharpness. And in this respect, the transfer is severely lacking. Depth of field is poor and objects singularly refuse to pop from the screen with any semblance of life or vitality.
Colours, as I have already said, can often be muted. But it is funny to note that whenever an American flag is on-screen, it throbs with a full-blooded palette. The film has a stark look, not exactly de-saturised in the manner that Scott did with, say, portions of Kingdom Of Heaven, but definitely leached of much natural integrity - and it doesn't make for particularly comfortable viewing, in my opinion. Much of the first half - with its relentless training and rain - is rendered murky, with background detail being lost in the process. Blacks are thankfully deep and strong, enabling the frame to possess some firm foundation, but with the contrast fiddled about with in post-production, the rest of the picture can seem to merge with the shadows all too often.
Things only brighten up during the frantic climax on the Libyan beaches where, finally, the image seems to produce some zest. The blue skies, the coloured smoke and the explosions populate the picture quite nicely and detail - sweaty faces, weapon-parts, blood - suddenly seem magnified. However, all this is too little, too late. Even if the image betrays little in the way of edge enhancement, and no other real compression defects to speak of, I don't feel that this transfer is necessarily as worthwhile step-up from what may already be out there.
SoundWhatever reservations I have about the image of G.I. Jane, the disc pretty much makes up for with another nicely bombastic PCM Uncompressed 5.1 mix. The usual suspects for proving the realistic worth of a track - rainfall, gunfire, helicopters and voices from all directions - are very much in evidence and all come across extremely well with fully-immersive and lively dynamics. There is a DD 5.1 mix on offer as well, but the PCM notches up the aggression of the mix a new degrees and delivers a much more intensive and wider soundfield.
There is plenty of rumbling bass to be enjoyed and the rear speakers receive some fairly energetic attention, too. Helicopters rush around the set-up with decent enough clarity and authentic sounding rotors. The rattling of the food bins, the constant shouting of the instructors and the pounding boots of the trainees all add up to an environment that is continually active and interesting. Jones' score has lots of presence and while high ends register with naturalism, the mid-section is suitably warm and enveloping. The gunfire, though, is exquisite. Admittedly, there isn't actually a great deal of it - one of the combat courses early on and then the fire-fight in Libya - but it is steered around the speakers with full-on, throaty roaring and really manages to punch through the air around your head with disconcerting realism. Distant voices, from the recruits tumbling through the surf or from the Libyan soldiers being sniped at by Urgayle, are always picked up with finite clarity. Impacts from bullets or shrapnel, or broken bones being manipulated and the odd nose-crack are well integrated into the mix, too. And panning around the set-up is pretty much transparent. But what denies G.I. Jane from sitting beside the top tier of PCM tracks that I have heard is that it just lacks the sheer power and impeccable directionality that other combat mixes have supplied. But, action-junkies will find little to fault here. A good, solid 8 out of 10.
ExtrasNothing at all folks, apart from a few trailers for the likes of Déjà Vu and Apocalypto. I don't class the Movie Showcase gimmick as a special feature, I'm afraid. So only one lowly point here.
VerdictWhat I once found stirring and quite exciting about this film, the years have done a lot to tarnish. Although competently made, and containing two standout sequences and a couple of intense performances, G.I. Jane suffers from a fumbled message and a staggering lack of conviction in the development that the script allows the main character to have. Scott seems to have been working on autopilot, but the atmosphere he managed to evoke here certainly paved the way for the pulverising Black Hawk Down to follow.
The film's Blu-ray appearance is slightly marred by a softer-then-expected image and a typical lack of extras, but, at least, has the presence of a terrific PCM Uncompressed track to bolster it. Really, though, this is one for the Demi Moore or Ridley Scott completists out there, because there isn't a whole lot to commend it barring some technical and visual pizzazz. As it stands now, G.I. Jane is merely a curio, ill-conceived and easily forgotten.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.29
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