The Movie: 8/10
The toll of war on a human, that’s the story of American Sniper. It is very loosely based on the story of a real sniper, however, we all know how Hollywood cuts and snips and rearranges the facts of a life to make a good movie. Keep that in mind as you watch and think about American Sniper. I’ll skip to the “overall” part that is usually at the end of my reviews, just because it seem obvious this time around. Overall, this is a quality movie with excellent performances, beautifully made, and the themes involved in this particular soldier story resonate far beyond the watching of a movie.
The cast is top quality, of course. What more is there to say other than Bradley Cooper shows that he’s one of those actors from our generation who brings a higher standard than most. I want to see more from him, just not goofy comedies! The music is subtle and the sets are so amazing you don’t even notice how amazing they are. That’s what a good movie should do. I was so focused on the story and lost in the world of that one individual that what was around him made perfect sense and disappeared. If I’m looking at the sets too much or thinking about the music more than the dialogue, that means something isn’t holding my attention. American Sniper does not have that problem.
As for the main character, a man driven to war for his own reasons, is the master of compartmentaling the killing and his family life. Well, he doesn’t do a very good job of it actually, and that’s what we are experiencing, a soldier sent to war and the difficulties of bringing that experience back to the monotony of every day life. The writing is solid in almost every scene, there are a few that seem forced and unnatural, but overall it’s from the heart and I could identify with the emotions of the characters. I cannot identify with a wife raising her children alone because her husband is off to war, but because it’s well done I get it.
There’s not much more to say really, it’s just good. It’s a thinking movie with a story that a lot of people will interpret in very different ways. You can take the “Rah rah rah America” approach or the “War is hell” approach and come out with a good conversation to follow. That’s what I liked about this movie the most. I thought about life and death and war and people and what we really are, and with all that thinking going on it’s clear American Sniper is one of my favorites of the year so far.
- One Soldier’s Story: The Journey Of American Sniper (31 Minutes) – If you only watch one of the featurettes here make it this one. It examines the producer’s interest in the Chris Kyle book and getting it onto the screen. Taya Kyle widow of Chris has a big contribution and the stories of how she got involved are inspiring. You even get some interviews with Clint Eastwood and a look at how Bradley Cooper got in shape for the role.
- The Making Of American Sniper (28 Minutes) – This featurette is very similar to the first one but it has a very different tone. It’s interesting to see what editors can do with roughly the same material and create something quite different. I would stick to the other featurette and top that off with a visit to Wikipedia to get the real story behind Chris Kyle.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art: 9/10
Excellent cover. I would have this as a poster.
Audio & Video: 9/10
American Sniper is brought to Blu-Ray in a spectacular 1080P AVC encode. As usual Clint Eastwood is very utilitarian with his shots and American Sniper is no exception. What this means is some shots come across looking flat and lifeless but others look vibrant and vivid. Black levels are very deep and on occasion do exhibit a little crush, there is also some minor banding near the end of the film. But overall this is a very realistic looking image that really brings this story to life.
American Sniper uses the new Dolby Atmos codec (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if you do not have an Atmos setup) and is an absolute winner. From the rumbling tank in the very first shot it’s clear that you are in for a sonic treat. Obviously this is a film about Sniping and every one of those bullets can be heard with pinpoint accuracy. Light Ambiance such as the chatter in a busy bar is also realistic and wonderfully positioned. Dialog is easy to understand and centrally located. You will not be disappointed with this presentation of the movie.
Overall Score 8/10