has an average rating of 6.6 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
short but worthwhile with Digital Copy
– 94 minutes
– Overture Films (Anchor Bay/Starz)
This uses 22.7GB for the movie out of 30.3GB total.
Street Date: March 23rd, 2010
Overall Verdict – Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself is based on the unbelievable true events that for the most part are included in the Screenplay and film. The Screenplay was based on the book (of the same title) written by Jon Ronson. The film was directed by Grant Heslov.
The film tells a story from the perspective of a reporter named “Bob Wilton” (played by Ewan McGregor). Bob has had a rough couple of years as we learn from the opening of the film. His wife left him for another man and as a result, once the second Iraq war starts he decided to go cover it. It’s in the process of trying to cover the war, stuck in Kuwait, that he meets a man who calls himself “Skip” that pretends to be there trying to get a contract for garbage disposal or something. As the two men talk more Bob looks down to the nametag “Skip” is wearing and notices a name he has heard before “Lyn Cassady.” Bob had originally heard Lyn’s name during an interview with a guy who claimed to be a “Jedi” soldier (played briefly by Stephen Root). So remembering this, Bob asks the man if he knows the man he interviewed. Immediately our friend “Skip” or rather Lyn (played brilliantly by George Clooney) runs off thinking that Bob knows too much. Bob chases him down and eventually wins over his trust once he tells Lynn he is just a reporter and not a spy.
Getting to know Lyn is when Bob starts to really learn a lot about this “Jedi” soldier (psychic spy) program that the U.S. Government started in the late 70′s and really grew with the help of a man named “Bill Django” (played again, brilliantly by Jeff Bridges). Django claimed it all started for him after he fell out of a helicopter in Vietnam. He landed in the combat zone to only discover a pile of enemy bodies and then to see his fellow troops purposely shoot everywhere but at the one enemy left. The soldiers in Django’s group all seem to have fired high (up in the air away from the enemy) because they were pacifists at heart or just afraid of taking a human life. As a result of this, the one vietnamese left fires and hits Django right in the chest. This doesn’t kill Django but instead leaves him in a military hospital for a bit but once he recovers he decides to share his findings with the other folks in the military and starts his own division called “New Earth Army” made up of soldiers in which he called “Jedis” (named obviously after the heroes from the “Star Wars” films).
The point of this top secret operation was to teach soldiers ways to use psychic abilities to help find people via what they called “remote viewing” and also use non-lethal weapons and tactics to take down the enemy. As our new found friend Lyn tells Bob more about this whole top secret program we learn that Lyn was taught by Django and that he had a fellow student that was basically the “black sheep” and ruined things for this soldier program. The man’s name is “Larry Hooper” (played perfectly by Kevin Spacey) and he has made it clear early on that he hates all of the other soldiers in the program as well as even his teacher. Also, it’s quite obvious that Larry is jealous of the much better student (“Jedi” soldier) Lyn who has much stronger powers with “the force.” As a result of his jealously and pure dislike for the program Larry decides to ruin things for Django and that’s really where I will cut things short on this synopsis to avoid any real spoilers.
“The Men Who Stare at Goats” is technically yes, a comedy but it is also based on a true story and takes place for the most part (aside from flashbacks) during the second war in Iraq so it has its serious points to it. I think the fact that this IS actually based on some real events that did happen in the military is totally forgotten as the film’s message by some folks if you take a look at its reviews online by the average movie-goer. However, critics really seemed to embrace the film and understand its message. I hope you will as well and I totally recommend the film to everyone, especially fans of the great cast members like Ewan McGregor (a former “Jedi” himself in “Star Wars” episodes 1-3), George Clooney, Kevin Spacey and last but far from least, the recent Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges.
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 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications for the aspect ratio this was shot on Panavision cameras using 35mm film. The transfer from traditional 35mm to Hi-Def here looks really great and holds a nice amount of detail, especially in close-ups and during action sequences later in the film. The black level is perfectly solid, the fleshtones are accurate and the color palette is vibrant throughout the film despite the majority of the film taking place in Iraq. No real flaws here to speak of, no real visible use of filters like DNR or EE or even any compression problems as this is using a good amount of the BD-50 it is housed on and not having to share too much of that room with bonus, as the supplemental materials here are pretty short. All and all, this presentation is really impressive and enough to earn “The Men Who Stare at Goats” a great “4.5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. This is really great to be able to say as this presentation totally does justice to the wonderful cinematography done by the Academy Award-winning DP (director of photography) Robert Elswit.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround — despite being mislabeled on the back of the box art. First and foremost the most important thing in this film is its dialogue of which for the most part is pretty damn hilarious. I’m happy to say that the dialogue is delivered very distinctly here in the TrueHD 5.1 mix and requires no volume adjustments throughout. The most of the sound (aside from dialogue) comes from the font left and right channels (speakers) with some decent LFE (bass) and the occasional rear channel presence. The rear channel presence is used a few times that are pretty impressive in some action scenes but for the most part this is not really a sound mix that is going to leave you too amazed. The music on the film’s Soundtrack such as Boston‘s “More Than A Feeling” sounds great and even gets a tad bit of rear channel presence. While not being anything close to “demo material” this does still manage to get the job done and does the film justice sound-wise. “The Men Who Stare at Goats” earns a solid “4 Star Rating” for overall audio quality on its Blu-ray Disc debut.
Bonus materials are ALL presented in 1080i High Definition (HD) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound @192kbps.
- “Goats Declassified: The Real Men of the First Earth Battalion” (12:29 – HD) gives us some information on the real true story (events) that the film was based on from the book written by Jon Ronson, who gives a great interview here. If you enjoyed the film and are more curious about this topic, you should definitely watch this after the film — but only after the film, as it does contain a few spoilers.
- “Project Hollywood: A Classified Report from the Set” (7:34 – HD) has cast members like George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey discussing in interviews from the set as well as an interview with the director Grant Heslov. This is a sincere “making of” featurette unlike the ones you find where the actors are just filling you with BS about how much fun it was working with the director. Here the cast and crew are actually discussing more of what the film itself is about and not backslapping.
- Audio Commentary with Director Grant Heslov
- Audio Commentary with Book Author Jon Ronson
- “Character Bios” (4:46 – HD) is comprised of 4 commercials that ran for the film and each focused on the four main cast members.
- “Deleted Scenes” (4:14 – HD) have a couple scenes in there I felt that should have been left in the film as they run pretty short.
- Theatrical Trailer (2:23 – HD) is presented but sadly only with Stereo sound. Still, it’s nice to see it was included.
- Digital Copy of the film is included on a DVD-ROM which is compatible with PC and Windows Media portable devices. Sadly, Anchor Bay still does not offer Mac or iTunes friendly digital copies.
Overall, the bonus materials are definitely very informative and that was exactly what I wanted after seeing this film — since after all, it is technically based on a true story or rather real events. The supplemental materials do run a tad bit shorter than I had hoped but as I said, they do prove informative and in the end worthwhile for those who enjoyed the film. The commentary tracks, yes plural, are great. You get one from the film’s director and one from the author of the book the film is based on. Plus, I’d like to point out the fact that all the bonus materials are in HD is great and the inclusion of a Digital Copy is nice, even if it is only compatible with PC (Windows Media).
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.