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USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage (Blu-ray Review)

USS-IndianapolisLionsgate’s USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage tells a true tale from World War II about a ship that help transport parts of an Atomic Bomb and then was shot up in the water with its survivors hanging afloat for 5 days.  Headlining the cast is Academy Award Winner Nicolas Cage (The Wicker Man, Left Behind) along with Tom Sizemore (Slumber Party Slaughter, Pauly Shore Is Dead), Thomas Jane (LOL, Pawn Shop Chronicles) and James Remar (Deleted Scenes from Aliens).  USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is directed by Mario Van Peebles.  It will be available on Blu-ray from Lionsgate on January 24th.  You can pre-order the film now from Amazon and be able to have it right on release day if you’re a Prime member.

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Film 

Based on a true story of survival and bravery, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage stars Cage as the captain of the USS Indianapolis, a boat tasked with a top-secret mission at the end of World War II. With remarkable production value, the film tells the harrowing tale of real life American heroes shipwrecked in shark infested waters in the waning days of World War II.

Its always a bit of a weird feeling when having to review a film about hardship in the military in wars fought in years past or present.  A lot of people can’t see the line between judging the events and judging something as a film.  For example, something like Lone Survivor, which was a pretty bad film in terms of cinematic aspects, but a lot of critics that judged it as such were given tons of flack for their critique.

Now, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage is much better than Lone Survivor, but its still a little rough.  This one has a right idea and I credit Mario Van Peebles and veteran performers like Nic Cage and company for trying to get their best out of it.  As it is, the script is far to matter of fact and plain while the production values are at the level of some of the christian films I used to review here in years past.  But, damn if this one doesn’t try to be a little more.

How’s Cage?  Well, he’s fine here.  Its a rather tame performance that accompanies the film and allows him to sink into the rest of the cast and scenes.  He works as their leader above all though.  There is one moment during the rescue where we are given a little hint of a full on campy Cage, probably not intentional.  He rises to the occasion here, finally doing a movie at sea, a bucket list sorta thing for him.

If you go into this with made for TV aspirations, you’re probably going to find its sweet spot.  Its a bit too long and nothing is really deeper than its surface.  There’s a love story they want you to care about, but it just winds up being some creeper male entitlement bullshit, and I didn’t care.  If you’re into this sorta stuff, check it out on rental before buying.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail:  For the most part, the film has plenty of detail and really great looking crisp, sharp image that is vibrant and can pop from time to time.  However, there are some action and CG moments that jitter the camera or have a weird focus that also creates a blur and distortion.  Some of the performers have a sort of ghosting effect while CGI creations just look unnecessarily blurry.  Some of this is probably to hide poor effects or the budget, but it is quite distracting when trying to watch.

Depth:  Solid depth work here, with good separation between character and background.  As mention some sharp camera movements create a pretty bad blur in this image.  There are some decent spacing and more good dimensional moments in some of the better framed and patient moments inside the Indianapolis.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid and are able to display some good deep tones.  No crushing witnessed during this viewing.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are decent in the “social” type scenes of the film where there are clothes, lipstick and flashy looking hair that pop.  During the lost at sea portion, you get a lot of good blues and such.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are a little bleached and cold, keeping that look throughout the duration of the film.  Facial details like dried sand, blood, wrinkles, make-up and stubble all look pretty clear from most distances.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  The film features a solid 5.1 mix that really can rumble the room with its action. The film starts with a aerial/sea battle and the cannons, guns, explosions and jet engines all roar through with good action.  Some of the sea effects and sharks sound pretty commendable too.  All in all, the track is rock solid.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension:  Big water splashing, explosions, engines and more will rumble the subwoofer.  The score during the end credits also gets a few good beats in.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Motion around the room is accurately depicted.  Some nice ambiance filters as well.  Everything is pretty accurate and doesn’t go much overboard.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean and crisp in this mix.

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Extras 

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage comes with an UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

The Making Of USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage (HD, 33:11) – A nice little brush through the making of the film with intricate and passionate interviews like the one with Mario Van Peebles that kind of leads the charge.

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Summary 

There’s a good story of heroism and the opportunity to think about some history with with modern eyes, but this movie doesn’t have the money or script to effectively tell it.  This Blu-ray comes with a solid presentation in both audio and video as well as a decent little supplement.  For those into military history films, its a decent rental.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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