has an average rating of 6.8 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
great but short with DVD/Digital Copy
– 129 minutes
This uses 35.5GB for the movie out of 45.7GB total.
Street Date: June 5th, 2012
Overall Verdict – Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is based on a remarkable true story. The film was directed by Marc Forster best known for previously directing the films “Quantum of Solace” (2008), “The Kite Runner” (2007), “Stranger Than Fiction” (2006), “Finding Neverland” (2004) and “Monster’s Ball” (2001). The screenplay here was written (adapted based on a true story) by Jason Keller who’s recent writing credit includes the film “Mirror Mirror” from 2012.
The story here as I said earlier is based on a true story; the story of the life of one man named Sam Childers, portrayed here in the film by Gerard Butler. When we (as the audience) are first introduced to Sam he’s getting out of prison. His wife Lynn (portrayed here by Michelle Monaghan) is waiting outside for him to be released from prison. The two have a bit of catching up to do. He asks her for a cigarette only to find that she’s quit smoking and also “found Jesus” — converted to Christianity — and quit her job as a stripper. The two have a young daughter named Paige. When they arrive at their home they are greeted by the daughter Paige as well as Sam’s mother (portrayed by Kathy Baker). It’s only a matter of time before Sam gets very upset with his wife about her choice to quit stripping for financial reasons. He storms off to his local biker bar where he meets up with his friend “Donnie” (played by Michael Shannon). Sam and Donnie share some filthy habits together, one of which is a drug addiction and the other is their attitude. It’s only a matter of a minute or so before Donnie asks Sam if he “wants a taste” — lingo for asking if you’d like some drugs. Sam is just out of prison and already back to his ways that likely got him there to begin with. As if that’s not enough we as the audience are about to dislike the man that Sam Childers is in this point of his life a whole lot more when he robs a local drug dealer and stabs a hitchhiking drifter who he and Donnie pick up afterward. In fairness the drifter does put a knife to his friend Donnie’s throat but Sam goes a bit apeshit on him and stabs him more times than I’d care to even begin to count.
At this point the audience is very disgusted with the man they’ve been introduced to and he’s also become disgusted with himself. He’s disgusted with the things he’s done to others and his drug addiction so he breaks down and asks his wife Lynn for help. She takes him to their local church where he decides to have his sins washed away by being baptized. It’s after this that he makes some serious changes in his life. He ends up starting his own construction (contracting) business with another man and eventually gets a calling from God after hearing a guest speaker at their church talk about the children in East Africa. He decides to go on a missionary job of sorts over to Africa where he meets a man named “Deng” (played by Souleymane Sy Savane) who shows him what life is like there for the people; namely the children. When Sam returns his calling from God grows stronger and he decides he’s going to first build a church there in his hometown for those who like him were sinners and are looking for a way to change their life. A church where they can feel welcome. His other decision is that he’s going to go back to East Africa and build an orphanage for the children like those he saw on his first trip.
He leaves his family back home in Pennsylvania to take on this noble cause and put himself at risk. The risk he soon encounters comes from soldiers in a group called the LRA led by a man named Joseph Kony. He is the man who has injured and killed so many people; again, namely children. He forces them to be soldiers for his LRA, to do unthinkable acts and whatnot. Sam feels it’s his calling to help these children in need and especially those who have been orphaned as a result. So he builds his orphanage yet he encounters some obvious resistance that makes him question if it was a good idea. They give him a strong fight and try to discourage him but it’s only a test on his faith as he decides to stick around and eventually picks up a machine gun and decides to put up a fight himself; hence the film’s title.
“Machine Gun Preacher” proves to be a very heart-felt, emotional and inspiring film. The fact that this is based on the life of a real man named Sam Childers is downright impressive. At times I personally wonder if we as human beings can get past our own selfishness and do selfless acts to help others in need. The fact that people like Sam Childers exist make me have faith (not in a religious sense but belief) that we as human beings can make a difference even if it’s just one of us trying to take on a huge task. Star Gerard Butler gives an excellent performance her portraying Childers. There’s some great supporting roles here that folks like Michelle Monaghan, Michael Shannon and Souleymane Sy Savane do an excellent job at as well. All and all this film is sure to leave you a little teary eyed. It also may be a bit hard to endure some of the suffering when you see what the children of East Africa really are going through thanks to Joseph Kony and his LRA. They force children to be soldiers, into slavery or rape them. It’s truly disgusting what this man does; as I’m sure a lot of you know about now thanks to the documentary “KONY 2012” that became viral on YouTube earlier in the year. I’m sure the folks that made that short documentary mean well but they aren’t taking on the man on a daily basis like what we see the main character (real-life man) do in this film. Instead of donating to them if you want to make a difference I’d totally suggest you donate to Sam Childers‘s foundation Angels of East Africa. You can also find lots of photos and info about the real-life Sam Childers there but for “spoiler” reasons (of sorts) save it for after you’ve watched the film.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications for the aspect ratio this was shot on a variety of 16MM film and Super 35MM film using the Arriflex 16 SR2, Arrilex 416 and Arriflex 435 cameras. A lot of the scenes early on such as before Sam Childers is leaving and just out of prison (before he finds God) in the film appear to have been shot on 16MM film as they seem to come across more gritty with a larger amount of film grain and a tad bit less detail. The scenes later in the film once he’s found God, been baptized and starts doing his work over in East Africa appear to have been mostly shot on Super 35MM film as they seem more pristine with less film grain and a lot more detail; especially in close-ups. The scenes back home in America appear to have clearer detail as well but not quite as much as the scenes in Africa do. Perhaps they were shot on just 16MM film, although I’m obviously not 100% sure on that. One point I feel pretty confident the film was shot on Super 35MM film is at the 35 minute mark. Lots of detail here. The black level here on all the source material is solid, the color palette is obviously a tad bit warm, at times can be pretty vibrant and the flesh tones are accurate. The visual presentation here is pretty solid, much thanks to DP (director of photography) Roberto Schaefer‘s cinematography and earns itself a “4 Star Rating” for overall video quality.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Once Sam is out of prison and makes his trip to the biker bar on his Harley Davidson motorcycle you’ll notice that the song “Saturday Night Special” by Lynyrd Skynyrd playing gets a good amount of rear channel and LFE (bass) presence. The sound of his Harley also gets some pretty decent LFE and use of the front left & right channels. Here you’ll notice as music is playing overtop of the conversation that dialogue is delivered very distinctly through the front center channel speaker and is never once “drowned out” by any background noise, action or whatnot. Speaking of action, this film has its occasional share of gunshots. Be it early on with the sound of shotguns or later on with the sound of machine guns. The sound effects here sound very lifelike and pack a nice “punch” so-to-speak with obvious front channel presence as well as some nice rear channel reverberation and LFE. There’s a scene pretty early in the film where Sam‘s trailer is hit by a tornado that serves as a pretty impressive 5.1 lossless sequence. There’s a great amount of LFE and rear channel presence here. Another great sequence comes at the 1 hour 9 minutes mark when shit honestly gets pretty intense as Sam takes on the LRA. The original music here by Asche & Spencer sounds great and gets a very nice delivery as well. All and all, this film has an impressive sound presentation that makes good use of the lossless 5.1 mix. It earns itself a “4.5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. I’d like to lastly say that the song “The Keeper” by Chris Cornell at the end of the film during the credits sounds beautiful here in lossless 5.1 sound.
Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps sound — unless noted otherwise below.
- “Machine Gun Preacher: A Discussion with Marc Forster” (18:36 – HD) has the director talking about what made him want to be involved with this film after working on a “Bond” film. We get to see more photos of the real-life Sam Childers who we learn actually was present on the set a few times as well as enjoyed the film. Speaking of which, you’ll see a photo here of star Gerard Butler and Childers on set. Marc also tells us why he felt that Butler was the right person for the role. Very informative and entertaining featurette here. Marc Forster isn’t just an amazing director he’s also very well-spoken.
- “Making the Music for Machine Gun Preacher” (14:00 – HD) features interviews with the lead composer Thad Spencer, his fellow composers at “Asche & Spencer“, Tom Scott and Richard Werbowenko as well as the film’s editor Matt Cheese. You’ll get to see the composers playing parts from the film on a variety of instruments and at times joined by a string section. This proves to be very informative and makes you really appreciate how much this original music added to the vibe of the film. Great stuff. One last thing. You’ll learn here that some of the composers actually played the band at Sam’s church in the film.
- “The Keeper” Music Video by Chris Cornell (3:46 – HD) is the song that plays during the end credits of the film, written & performed by former Soundgarden frontman and singer in the band Audioslave. This song is very fitting. The music video includes clips from the film.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:28 – HD) features Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps sound.
- A DVD of the film in standard definition is included with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The only bonus material include here is the featurette “Making the Music for Machine Gun Preacher” listed above.
- A Digital Copy of the film is included on a DVD-ROM. This is compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices as well as Mac and PC.
Overall the bonus materials here are definitely short; only totaling up to roughly 35 minutes or so but they make up for quantity with quality. Both of the featurettes are informative and entertaining (as I mentioned above). The addition of the Chris Cornell music video is nice as well as an inclusion of a DVD and Digital Copy of the film as physical/digital supplemental materials. It’s a shame we don’t get an audio commentary from director Marc Forster but the interview he gives in the almost 19 minute featurette proves to be a nice substitute. All and all, if you enjoyed the film you’ll be somewhat happy with what you get here in terms of bonus.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.