003797Reviews & Counting
Black Hawk Down (Deluxe Edition)
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Arrow
Black Hawk Down (Deluxe Edition) order
Ridley Scott

Josh Hartnett
Ewan McGregor
Eric Bana


star Printer-Friendly version
Based on a true story, this flick relays the October 1993 U.S. military mission in Mogadishu, Somalia which was initially thought to be a walk in the park but unexpectedly turned into a pure living nightmare instead. We follow a group of American Soldiers trapped behind enemy lines trying to make their way out while thousands of angry and armed locals are on their tail. Slap in that clip soldier...we’re going in and we’re not leaving one man behind!
Directed by comeback king Ridley Scott (who after the box-office and critical failures of 1492, WHITE SQUALL and G.I. JANE, returned to the scene stronger than ever with GLADIATOR and HANNIBAL) and produced by ace-in-the-deck Jerry Bruckheimer (TOP GUN, BEVERLY HILLS COP...), this relentless war film puts us deep in the wretched and ugly heart of unrestrained combat and makes us feel it like no other cinematic oeuvre ever has in the past. For 143 minutes, I was sooooo there in all of the chaos, disorientation, array of noisy gunfights, stomach churning moments of gore, ducking of missiles and fleeing away from furious natives with killing on the fritz. I was living the oppressiveness of being pinned down by the enemy and the guilt that came with the thought of leaving fellow in arms behind. I WAS at freaking war while watching this movie!

Courage, honor, insanity, sadness, anger and fear are all themes that were addressed in this film as well and they took me through a gamut of emotions. The impeccable direction by Ridley Scott also contributed in making this movie a ridiculously gripping one. Scott managed to inject the film with high moments of tension and anxiety while making the “all over the map” physical conflict clear for us on a visual standpoint. The images served up were, at times, poetic/artsy and at other times, gritty and real. Tag to that, a brilliant use of filters by cinematographer Slavomir Idziak and a strong score by Hans Zimmer that both upped the juice of the images and events at hand, and you get an arresting visual and audio treat.

Some argued that the film was redundant, but I never felt that myself. Others said that the script didn’t sport enough character exposition, but I was given enough meat about the men to genuinely care and the talent/charisma of the actors playing them gapped what could’ve been missing on paper even further. I felt for these guys hardcore and that upped the stakes of the action 100 fold. Having said that, the stellar cast should also be commended in making the film a more involving ride with Hartnett and Bana owning the most here. BLACK HAWK DOWN is an extremely powerful piece of filmmaking that simply knocked me out. You don’t simply watch this flick...you live it!

Commentary with Director/Producer Ridley Scott and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer: This full length commentary track gives us lots of historical background on the events and addresses the substance that specific shots and pieces of music wanted to communicate. We also get some insight on the peculiarities of the ethnic cast, the hardships of telling a tight story with such a high number of characters and much, much, much, more info. An overall involving and info-filled track.

Commentary with author Mark Bowden and screenwriter Ken Noland: Here, the author of the book on which the film is based speaks about what triggered his need to tell this story while screenwriter Ken Noland comes in to speak about what led him to adapt the book in screenplay form. They also comment on the film’s content, specific scenes, shots, script/book differences and more. Another insightful track.

Commentary with Task Force ranger veterans: Retired military officers come in to give us background as to their involvement in the Somalia massacre and go on to compare the elements in the film to those which really occurred. Very interesting from a history versus film point of view.

We also get Cast and Crew Filmographies.


The Essence of Combat- Making of Black Hawk Down (~ 2 1/2 hours): Here, we get 6 lengthy and tightly put together featurettes that we can either play all at the same time or individually. They cover the Story and Characters / Military Orientation / On Location / Film Score / Visual Effects and Final Thoughts. With over two hours of features, trust me when I say that these features are incredibly informative from a historical and cinematic standpoint with lots of input from cast and crew to boot. Damn!

Image and Design offers 7 features that we can only play individually. They are:

Designing Mogadishu (15 Minutes) where we see design art while the Production designer comes in to talk locations

Production Design Archive where we get to view a series of sketches for the movie’s locations

Storyboards (7 Minutes) the name says it all.

Ridelygrams (7 Minutes) gives a look at Ridley’s storyboards which can also be compared with the scenes in question while a narrator (Sylvain Despretz) gives us some history on Ridley Scott.

Jerry Bruckheimer’s BHD Photo album (6 minutes) where we see Jerry on set with his camera, then his pictures while he narrates what the pics are about

Photo Galleries and Title Design Explorations (3 Minutes) which is basically a montage of the title designs they tried out for the opening of the film (with optional commentary with insightful graphic designer Flavio Campagna)

We also get 20 minutes of potent Deleted and Alternate Scenes that can be played with an informative and trivia-filled optional Ridley Scott commentary track. We can only play the deleted scenes as one feature-- they are not titled individually. Strange


Historical Archive: Here we get two features-- The True Story of Black Hawk Down (~ 100 minutes) courtesy of the History Channel and Ambush in Mogadishu (~ 60 minutes) courtesy of PBS. Take out your notebooks kids, time to lean some American History.

Target Building insertion (Multi-Angle sequence): Here we get to view one sequence (involving helicopters) via 7 separate camera angles. We can either view them with the production sound playing or a commentary by AD Terry Needham. A fascinating feature with great technical insight by Needham that should appeal to all an aspiring filmmakers.

Q&A Forums: This feature includes three press conferences; the first being Batta (~ 10 minutes) with Ridley Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Jason Isaacs, Mark Bowden and Tom Matthews answering questions from journalists and crowd. The second is named Motion Picture Editor’s Guild (~ 10 minutes) where Editor Pietro Soallia takes the stage after a screening of the film to talk shop and the third is called American Cinematheque (~ 12 minutes) where Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer answer questions from the crowd. This feature is a perfect companion piece to the previous extras where some questions that might not have been answered via the features are addressed here. Solid.

Promotion: A wide assortment of Trailers and TV spots for the film with a music video (Gortoz A Ran- “J’Attends”) tossed in for good measure.
BLACK HAWK DOWN managed to capture the insanity, the mayhem, the savagery and the strength of the human spirit that arises through combat in a most visceral manner. The film is not for the weak of heart and is probably as close as I'd ever want to get to war. I felt enough heavy goosebumps while watching the film, I can just imagine how I’d LOSE MY MARBLES if I were actually put in the middle of a battlefield as such. The film's 3-disc Deluxe Edition is an overwhelming set with an almost ludicrous amount of extras that act as both a “film school” and a “history lesson”. All that to say, set a full day aside to view this HIGH QUALITY DVD in its entirety. Own it and live it.
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