Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Alpha - The Future Soldier Prequel Blu-ray Review
This Ghost Recon: Future Soldier prequel comes to US Region A-locked Blu-ray complete with a solid 1080p video presentation that handles the material very well, presenting it in a theatrically broad 2.35:1 aspect ratio and finely blending CG and live-action with largely seamless results. Detail is generally excellent, from the fine object detail and close-ups of holographic HUDs and wrist-displays, to the wider establishing shots and video-game style scans. Facial textures are well rendered, clothing weave, weaponry and military vehicles all come across as realistic – whether or not they were rendered with the assistance of CG. The colour scheme is notably muted giving it that look you would associate with a marginally budget-restricted production which wants to go for a distinctively drab, grim style, with no bright and vibrant tones on offer – although the CG HUD effects offer up a neon beacon of light amidst the dark greens, blacks, greys and browns. Black levels are strong allowing for decent shadowing and overall this is a pretty impressive video presentation which would fool you into believing that this was near-theatrical release quality.
On the aural front we get a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which serves up this short film with punch and presence, promoting the dialogue clearly and coherently from across the fronts and centre channel, whilst allowing the orchestrally-dominated score to enhanced the tone of the piece significantly from the surrounds and rears. The effects are expectedly myriad, bullets from all manner of weaponry pinging around you with furious frenzy, from the P90 to the mounted mini-gun, with even a couple of rockets and grenades thrown in for further explosive punch. Fans of the game will recognise plenty of familiar effects noises, and, considering the short runtime, this is a near wall-to-wall action-fest which has plenty to offer aurally.
Despite this being just a 24-minute short main feature, it does actually get pretty good treatment on this release: aside from the decent video and audio specs, we get a DVD copy of the main feature too, as well as a couple of extras – one of which is longer than the main feature itself!!
The Making of Ghost Recon: Alpha runs at 25 minutes in length and is a fairly comprehensive, interesting background look into how they put this short together, from location scouting to the professional twist that Ridley Scott’s production company brought to the table; from the weapons training that the cast went through at the hands of veteran military advisor Harry Humphries to the various weapons adapted for the futuristic look of the film. It is interesting to look at the future technology that they sought to bring to life, and the grounding it has in real-life creations (the land drone actually exists, apparently), and overall this was a quality extra, although it is still a little shameful that even the main extra is longer than the main feature itself!
The other extra we get is the original Ghost Recon: Alpha Comic Con Teaser which, interestingly, is a brief alternate edit of some of the footage – rather than offer up your usual trailer they appear to have used the same footage but depicted a different encounter in the preview. Worth a look.
This might well be the most elaborate videogame cut sequence ever commissioned; a well-shot and furiously-paced bit of high-precision military action which sees the characters from the Ghost Recon game series come to live-action-life and battle opponents with some pretty advanced new technology, all as a teaser for the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated Ghost Recon: Future Soldier videogame. The trouble is: it’s only 20 minutes long.
With decent video and audio, and a couple of nice extras – one of which is even longer than the main feature itself – fans will find it hard to resist buying it, but I’d strongly recommend just picking it up as a part of the Collector’s Edition package offered for the Ghost Recon: Future Soldier videogame, or at least seeking out the best reduced price you can find on the individual title, because otherwise there’s no way that you will be able to avoid feeling short-changed by this entertaining but infuriatingly abrupt prologue teaser.
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