A Few Good Men DVD Review

Though it presents itself like one, A Few Good Men is not a mystery. The answers are obvious from the start, and its predictability is the film's only real downfall. What's left, oddly enough, is tension. The military court case that makes the film is intense, and it's because of the performances by everyone involved.

While stars (which the movie is packed with) Demi Moore and Tom Cruise are outstanding together, it's the struggle Cruise goes through and final confrontation with Jack Nicholson that makes this film. The ending is flawless, and the dialogue an icon of pop culture. Even the supporting cast is incredible, and Kevin Bacon has rarely been better.

Leading up to that is a wonderful drama, one that builds its characters slowly, yet efficiently. No scene or word is wasted. Any details the viewer needs to know are provided, and you're not left to wonder about anything that happens. You know these people well enough to know where they're going when it's over.

Still, you almost wish there was more. There are necessary stories to follow, and for as impeccable as Nicholson is here, you want more. Granted, it makes the ending worth waiting, yet it almost seems wasteful not to feature the films key villain for more than a few minutes. The soundtrack is a sore spot too, almost giving the feel of a Saturday night TV movie. It's out of place.

With the minor faults and predictability, A Few Good Men becomes what it is through characters. It's hard to watch this one twice since the dialogue is full of emotion. It's a draining experience, and that's why it's so memorable. (**** out of *****)

This is the second run for the film on DVD, and this new transfer is the highlight. Soaked in reds and oranges, compression is the biggest problem. The colors may be better than almost any other disc on the market, but they come at a price. How awful it is depends on your set-up, and those with higher end equipment will be annoyed. Outside of that, detail is stunning, rarely marred by aliasing or edge enhancement. It's a beautiful film on this format. (****)

With both 5.1 and 2.0 audio offered, there's barely a difference between the two. Obviously, the 2.0 track fails to provide any surround work, and so does the 5.1. There's nothing here that justifies the 5.1 tracks existence. Since this is a straightforward dialogue piece, that's important. No line is lost, mumbled, or easily misinterpreted. It's been mixed in a way so its easy to pick up on the subtly of the performances. (***)

Anything is better than the original release, which was completely devoid of extras. While the back of the case may indicate it, there's not much here. Director Rob Reiner's commentary is dry, with plenty of lapses where he doesn't say a word. His information is useful, but not outstanding. It's average fare.

Code of Conduct, named so for the recurring theme of the film, is a half hour piece, entirely comprised of interviews. Moore and Cruise obviously didn't record any new content, and their words are from an old interview. The rest of the cast provides plenty of information, including a small tribute to deceased actor J.T. Walsh.

From Stage to Screen with Aaron Sorkin and Rob Reiner is a discussion session for the writer and director respectively. They discuss the origins and why they chose to bring it to the screen (it started as a stage play). The include trailers are all depressingly pan & scan, and the production notes offer a little more information not included in the two pieces above. (***)

A year after A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise would once again take on the role of a promising lawyer in The Firm. He obviously wasn't one for change back then. Both are great films, though The Firm goes overboard with the action. A Few Good Men wisely stays in boundaries.

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