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Stop-Loss

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: R (For Graphic Language and Pervasive Language)

Running Time: 111 Minutes

Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Abbie Cornish, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ciaran Hinds, Timothy Olyphant, Victor Rasuk, Rob Brown

Written by: Mark Richard & Kimberly Peirce

Directed by: Kimberly Peirce

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Kimberly Peirce and Co-Writer Mark Richard, The Making Of Stop-Loss, A Day In Boot Camp, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (17 Scenes)

Released: July 8th, 2008

 

 

"Stop-Loss" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it's a fantastic transfer. Other than some shimmering here and there, a little noise and a few edge halos, everything else about the transfer is seemingly perfect. Color saturation is very deep and doesn't smear, and all the varying color schemes hold up well, such as the dark blues of the night, and the tans of the soldier's outfits. Fleshtones are flawless, and detail is really fine. The transfer is clean too, as I did not detect any dit pieces or blemishes, or edge enhancement for that matter. The picture quality is razor sharp too. This is definitely one of the best transfers I have seen in a long time, and is pretty close to perfect.

 

"Stop-Loss" features an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, that is pretty strong. Making the biggest impression is an ambush that takes place toward the start of the film - it really makes you feel like you're there, in the middle of it. The explosions, the way the gunfire rattles - the rear speakers are put to excellent use, and it's all very discrete. More subtle surrounds also make an impression throughout the movie, such as cars driving in the background or crowds at a homecoming parade. Dialogue is always clear and easy to hear, and the music - be it a live band at a bar or John Powell's score - sounds pretty rich and energetic through all the channels.

Imaging is very good, and dynamic range is very strong. Fidelity is high too, and the subwoofer is put to good use. All the sound elements are balanced, and nothing is overpowering, making for a very fulfilling, creative and sturdy mix.

Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also included in French and Spanish. There are also subtitles in English, French and Spanish, plus English closed captions that can be accessed through your TV.  

 




An Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Kimberly Peirce and Co-Writer Mark Richard is available. Peirce discusses her vision for the movie, namely visuals and techical details when it came to tweaking the overall narrative. But for the most part, it's a nice discussion between her and Richard about the creation of the script: about soldiers they interviewed, parts of the script they had to cut for time's sake, character motivations and what they learned about real Army techniques. It's a commentary that is a bit on the dry side, but still quite informative. A lot of research and passion went into the making of this movie, and I highly commend Peirce and Richard for that.

The 20 minute Making Of Stop-Loss is a pretty thorough look at the movie's genesis and production. Director and co-writer Kimberly Peirce dominates the featurette, citing her inspiration to make this movie when her brother signed up for the army post-9/11, and the conversations they would have online when he was in the midst of his tour of duty. Peirce is quite passionate and driven about her movie, and making it seem as real as possible - citing home movies actual soldiers would make as a key inspiration. Co-writer Mark Richard also chimes in, plus some of the cast. The actors talk about their roles and working with Peirce, while there is a decent focus on the realism - be it key visuals in the movie and bonding the actors. A whole lot is told in this piece in a pretty short time frame, making it a must see for fans of the movie.

Running 10 minutes is A Day In Boot Camp. Here, we see the actors train to be soldiers - and they certainly take it seriously. It's certainly grueling, and the footage is highlighted by interviews with actual soldiers who are training alongside the actors, and the film's military advisor. Some of the most intriguing footage is where Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a discussion with an actual soldier about his beliefs when it comes to being in Iraq. A very interesting look at one of the components in making the film realistic.

Finally, there are 11 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary from Peirce. The scenes run a little over 18 minutes in total. The scenes are interesting, if a bit superfluous (some are extensions of existing scenes). Peirce puts the scenes in context of the actual film, and is pretty detailed and honest about the cuts. Worth watching and hearing Peirce's comments if you liked the movie.
 
 

"Stop-Loss" unfortunately didn't make much of an impression at the box office or with critics, but hopefully this movie - which really focuses on the ordeals of soldiers - will gain a nice audience on DVD. This disc is very satisfying, with a few great extras and an excellent presentation of the film itself. If you're interested in seeing it, I recommend a rental.