PictureTears Of The Sun is brought to Blu-ray in a glorious 2.40:1 transfer that really brings the jungle into the lounge. The source print is near-enough pristine - although I did detect some very tiny pops here and there - and the level of grain is extremely low. Only in some aerial shots - of helicopters or jets, say - is the grain apparent, otherwise the image is amazingly clear and vibrant with high-def sharpness and detail.
Colours are spot-on and exhibit no evidence of chroma-shift or over-saturation. The red berets of the Nigerian troops, the blood on the walls, the green of the foliage and the gorgeously bright flames from explosions, muzzle-flashes and the oil pipelines that criss-cross the village are all splendidly reproduced with warmth and vitality and a richness that blazes from the screen. Contrast is often excellent as well - check out the murky interior of a blood-spattered shack, steeped in shadow, whilst a fire burns just outside through the doorway in a pocket of daylight. Blacks, consequently, are deep and filled with a solidity that allows the lit areas of the picture to gain that all-important three-dimensionality. Depth of field throughout is impeccable, with many shots involving characters in the foreground, some in the mid-ground and people moving about deeper into the background, and all sectioned by foliage - and it all looks great.
Detail is well-rendered, too. Close-ups look awesome with every bead of sweat of blood glistening realistically on craggy faces and eyes shining naturally. Clothing and weaponry look properly intricate and offer reams of detail. Distance shots - such as the flyby views of the aircraft carrier, the devastated village or the jungle landscape, itself - are all beautifully captured and stand up well to scrutiny, should you be that way inclined. The changing hues are supremely carried off by the transfer. From the scintillating sunlight on the sea to the deep black interiors and night-time sequences, and from the lush green canopy to the ochre-tinted dust of the border-gates to Cameroon, the disc delivers a smooth transition and sharp, immersive image.
A great and reliable all round transfer.
Coming in with a DD 5.1and a PCM Uncompressed 5.1, you shouldn't need me to tell you which one is the clear winner.
Sounding louder and much more open, the PCM offers a sterling presentation of Tears Of The Sun that certainly comes alive during the two major action sequences, but manages to provide some terrific jungle ambience and directionality throughout. Dialogue is nicely presented and although muffled when the team are either under fire or trying to keep quiet, is always intelligible. Zimmer's score gets a good treatment and swells across the soundscape with purpose, presence and full-speaker involvement from the get-go.
But the fire-fights are where this, and the DD track, truly come into their own. The PCM, again, betters its DD counterpart with much better and more realistic steerage of the bullets around the room, deeper, more gut-punching explosions and a far superior integration of effects, score, voices and overall dynamics. Sniper shots sound exceptionally cool - one rings out from front and centre which impacts, along with the score, back at the rears with great clarity and force. Rear-support can be quite phenomenal at times, producing pristine gunshots, voices and screams, aircraft engine roars and lots of jungle ambience. The rainstorm is effectively dealt with, the thunder and the deluge marvellously wrapped around the viewer. The final incendiary inferno is a standout showcase for immersion and blasting LFE, but my favourite effect reproduced on the track is that for the silenced bullets that kiss out with a thick thwump around the speakers.
All in all, this is a great mix, folks. There are many moments when the track is quiet and dialogue-driven, or the action is presented predominantly across the frontal array. But when it opens up and lets rip - man, does it do it in full-on, bombastic style.
ExtrasAntoine Fuqua's commentary is surprisingly un-scene-specific, except until we get to that pivotal village butchery sequence, when he becomes very involved and sincere about the level of violence that he wanted so show, and the reasons why it had to be shown. But, on the whole, he is quite eloquent and heartfelt in his opinions about why he made the film and the effect that he wanted it to have. Along the way he provides plenty of background into the real-life events that have been taking place in certain African countries and how the imagery influenced his filmmaking process. He talks a lot about his cast and offers a few anecdotal asides, but the he is more concerned with the issues that the film raises and delivers quite a sermon about the drastic and terrible things being committed out of the way of the media's attention.
The Writer's Observations just has the screenplay-scribes offering their reasons for taking such a project on board and the genesis of the story they supplied and the subsequent changes it underwent on the way to the screen. This only lasts 16.45 mins and comes in the form of a brief commentary running over the top of the film.
Then we get a selection of Deleted Scenes, which are the additional segments that went into the full Director's Cut version of the film. There is nothing particularly valuable on show here and the image quality is pretty poor, too. There is a slightly different take on one part of the village massacre sequence that shows a little extra brutality, but the scenes, by and large, are of a one-watch-only variety.
There is also an Africa Fact Track to pop up and supply background information as the film plays.
VerdictQuite an underrated film, Tears Of The Sun literally shines here on BD. The image is excellent and the PCM is awesome during the fire-fights. The extras are valuable only for Antoine Fuqua's commentary, though.
Personally, I'm quite impressed by the movie - its atmosphere is clammy and frightening and the fact that we have such a recognisable and reliable face amongst the horrors, Bruce's, only adds to the suspense. And, for his part, Willis plays down his normal OTT heroics in favour of a much more realistic career-soldier who is only as good as the man next to him.
Emotive and exhilarating, Tears Of The Sun is a well recommended Blu-ray release.
Our Review Ethos