Mel Gibson is his usual fantastic self as the colonel who promises his men that they will either live or die together, and who spends the agonizing battle making sure he keeps that promise. Surrounded by a great supporting cast including Madeleine Stowe as his wife Julie, Greg Kinnear as Major Bruce Crandall and the awesome Sam Elliott as the tough-as-shoeleather Sgt. Major Plumley. Stowe is quite effective as the soldier's wife fearing the worst and Kinnear takes a very welcome break from the romantic-comedy genre to flex some serious dramatic muscle, but the show-stopper is definitely Elliott as a grizzled WWII vet who goes into battle with a pistol and refuses to get down...even under a hail of gunfire.
Credit definitely goes out to Wallace, who succeeds in putting together a highly emotional film, while preserving the dignity of the battle. The film is a visual stunner and is accompanied by so much of the hellish sound of gunfire that the horror of the battle is depicted in a way that would intimidate any would-be hero who has ever lacked respect for war veterans. Accompanied by a very eerie score and some great visual effects, this film quickly fell into my "must own" category.
The commentary was followed by a 25-minute long featurette entitled "Getting it right" behind-the-scenes. We see a lot of the main players in there, including Wallace and Gibson, but another highlight is the series of interviews with some veterans (including Lt. Col. Hall Moore) of the battle who discuss it with us and the actors. Very interesting indeed. We also get into a fair amount of detail about other "behind-the-scenes" topics, including music, makeup, costumes, sets, visual effects and many others.
To close it all up, we have access to ten Deleted Scenes, available with or without commentary by Randall Wallace. Some of them are actually quite long (upwards of 2 minutes) and pretty much all of them are good. Wallace's commentary, if you choose to listen to it, is actually quite informative about the reasons for each scene being deleted. One strange thing was that the Theatrical Trailer did not appear on the DVD.