PictureRambo looks glorious at 2.40:1 using MPEG-4/AVC at 1080p. It's obviously a recent film and this shows; the print is stunningly pristine with never once a hint of dirt or other blemishes. There is a hint of grain in some of the rain soaked night scenes but this never really detracts from the quality which is on show here.
Colours are lush with strong greens and brushed yellows the order of the day as our heroes troop through the jungles and then the wasted Karen rebel villages. At times the skin tones are a little over saturated, reddening a little more than they should be. Blacks are strong with detail still visible in the darker areas of Rambo's ramshackle hut during the meeting between him and the pastor of the missionaries. Similarly the attack on the hostage camp at night again shows good detail even in the distance. Daylight detail though is second to none with depth reaching into the distance especially in the Karen villages where even in the distance the activities of the villagers can easily be distinguished.
Whites are crisp yet never blooming and contrast holds up particularly well never once faltering when moving from dark to light, the dark shadow baked jungle floor easily distinguished from the bright sun drenched tree tops. The transfer is excellent with no noise no enhancement but there is some gradient banding on show near the start of the feature as we're introduced to Rambo's new country. This is an excellent disc which only just misses that top mark due to one or two slight inconsistencies. Don't let this put you off though; any Rambo film has never looked any better.
SoundThere's a couple of English tracks to sample, a descriptive service but a comprehensive 5.1 TrueHD offering. Always finding the descriptive service a little off-putting this review concentrates totally on the latter. From the off you'll be presented with a wide frontal stage, the background score adding apparent depth and width to the fronts. Surround use during these early stages is used for sundry ambiance effects such as weather or some discrete jungle sounds. All of these features bring the viewer into the movie and help create the atmosphere of the piece.
Tonal range is superb from the highs of some birds in the jungle to the all too often lows of explosions and gunfire, throughout all this mayhem though the dialogue is still distinct and still distinguished from the centre channel. It's the lows that predominantly take the reigns here though with the wide variety of weaponry on show each having their own distinctive low effect. When there's explosions the sub kicks in and gives you that chest thumping feel.
Directionality and panning again superb, from the panning at the fronts as trucks move from left to right to the all out battle near the end where effects will envelope you from every speaker you have in your arsenal. Ricochets can be heard travelling from front to rear from front right to rear left; you'll be ducking as you actually feel you're in the heart of the battle. This is a very impressive example of tight, detailed and controlled surround use and one which can certainly be used as demo material.
- Audio Commentary With Sylvester Stallone.
Stallone comments on the opening and how he wants to show the state of Burma and what is going on there, he constantly indicates why the violence was so descriptive in the scenes and this was to show that this is the true nature of violence, my jury is still out on this one. He discusses the tone he was trying to create for this feature, the characters and the cast who portrayed them and some of the reasons for the mercenaries going on this rescue mission.
- Bonus View Commentary - With Extended Exploration into Casting, Locations and Other Secrets.
This is essentially an enhanced version of the initial commentary and is the one really you should be having a look at. It uses PiP to show Stallone as he does his commentary but then the PiP will show locations or the scene will switch and the main screen will show locations or commentary while the PiP shows the film. There's also full screen interviews with other members of cast and crew.
- 7 Featurettes.
It's a Long Road: Resurrection of an Icon, A Score to Settle: The Music of Rambo, The Art of War Part 1: Editing, The Art of War Part 2: Sound, The Weaponry of Rambo, A Hero's Welcome: Release and Reaction and Legacy of Despair: The Real Struggle in Burma. In total these amount 1:10:27 and there is a play all function, all are presented in 1080i format. The usual featurettes tend to be fly by night affairs but not this, it compliments the two commentaries mentioned earlier and includes pertinent additional information. Again Sly's there saying that he had to show the brutality for what it was, the sound and score is discussed from a point of view of continuing previous themes in the earlier movies whilst making it's own mark. There's a good section on props and weaponry and to finish off a short piece of information on the history and current situation in Burma. These come highly recommended and are well worth a good watch.
- Deleted Scenes.
There are 4 deleted or extended scenes here, again with a play all function and all lovingly presented in 1080p. A couple consist of Sarah trying to convince Rambo to take on the job and I really think these should have been left in; they show more of Rambo's nature and his reasons for living now as he does. The others wouldn't really have added anything to the film as a whole and it's right that they fell on the cutting room floor.
Another BD-Live feature but again I could not get this work, it always came up saying “Make sure you're connected to the internet”. I review on a HD Enabled HTPC so trust me on this, my PC definitely has a working internet connection.
A couple of 1080p trailers, one for Hancock the other Vantage Point.
This is a comprehensive and interesting extras package and one that you should certainly be giving some attention. It's a shame that I still cannot get BD-Live functionality yet I reckon that this might be a problem with my player software more than anything else so I'll be contacting support to find out what's going on. Otherwise I can't fault what's included here. The two commentaries release the sort of information you're wanting and the featurettes have a wealth of information in them for you to soak up. Stallone going solo on the commentary track was in fact a good idea, it makes you concentrate on what he is saying.
VerdictTo date the majority of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment UK BluRay titles have been coded 'All regions'. As SPHE only has limited rights to this title, on this occasion the title was coded 'Region B'. Unfortunately this title has been labelled incorrectly with the standard 'All region' logo rather than 'Region B' and moving forward this will be corrected.
The first in this franchise I thoroughly enjoyed, looking at how war veterans were assimilated back into or rejected from society. I had a problem with the second and third incarnation thinking them no more than propaganda vehicles; so it was with great trepidation that I approached this current episode. Overall I'm still having a problem with Rambo though and this is not really down to the nature of the film; it's the contents. Sly has to be commended for bringing a diabolical situation to the eyes of the world; and it does seem that this feature has precipitated some action and further awareness in that region, but it's the sheer brutality that's on screen though that I question. I understand both sides of the on screen violence argument but with this film I just don't quite know which one is correct.
As a feature film though it lacks in depth characterisation and perhaps that was a missed opportunity. Stallone mentions that he likes to bring things full circle and he had the opportunity to do so here and re-investigate the mental state of John Rambo, it was not to be though.
As an action film it's pretty neat and will have fans of that genre gripping their seat waiting for the next batch of debauchery. The Extras, video and audio are excellent, albeit we don't get the luxury of a full on DTS-HD 7.1, so the disc itself is a superb package for fans of the Rambo films. It the end it actually comes recommended but beware that the film itself has some major flaws.
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- Audio Commentary With Sylvester Stallone.