4K Blu-ray Review

'Hacksaw Ridge' 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: Mel Gibson brings the story of another brave heart to the screen

March 8, 2017Ben MK

Andrew Garfield may have spent two movies saving New York City from the likes of the Lizard, Electro and the Green Goblin; but in director Mel Gibson's latest, the former Spider-Man actor plays a hero of a different kind, taking on the role of Desmond Doss, the decorated World War II veteran best known for rescuing 75 wounded soldiers at the battle of Hacksaw Ridge in May of 1945.

Neatly divisible into two distinct halves, the film focuses, first, on Doss' upbringing, his courtship of nurse Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), and his enlistment in the US Army, where he draws the ire of his peers and commanding officers for his refusal to wield a weapon. As it rolls past the midway point, however, the movie makes the sharp transition towards being a war film — and a graphic one, at that — as Doss and a group of soldiers led by Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington) confront the enemy in Okinawa.

Needless to say, it's its gritty and no-holds-barred second half that this movie will best be remembered for, with no shortage of explosions and dismembered bodies, not to mention the gruesome and blood-soaked aftermath of a multitude of gunshots to the head. In fact, other reviewers have already made the favorable comparison between this film and Steven Spielberg's genre high-water mark Saving Private Ryan; and, suffice to say, Hacksaw Ridge doesn't pull any punches when it comes to its realistic depiction of the horrors of war.

Ironically, the film also serves as an interesting and unexpected companion piece to Gibson's 2004 film, The Passion of the Christ, thanks to the faith-based themes of its narrative. Doss is, after all, arguably the world's most well-known Seventh-Day Adventist; and Gibson and screenwriters Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight do a fine job weaving in this aspect of Doss' real-life character into the story, doing so in a way that appeals to Christian audiences without alienating secular viewers in the process.

Hacksaw Ridge arrives on Blu-ray bearing a crystal-clear 1080p transfer. Mirroring the duality of the film's narrative, the first half of the movie is steeped in the warm hues of Doss' hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, whereas the second half is characterized by a bleak and somewhat desaturated color palette, dominated by greys, pale blues and earth tones. Either way, the image displays a consistent level of high quality; and it's enhanced by the inclusion of a Dolby Atmos sound mix that drives home the terrifying experience of being on a live battlefield, from the sounds of bullets whizzing by and grenades exploding left, right and center, to flamethrowers spewing fire and naval carrier cannons launching napalm rockets.

Elevation Pictures' two-disc Ultra HD Blu-ray release includes no special features on the 4K disc. However, the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray copy of the film:

  • The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge (1:09:45) - An engaging, making-of documentary about the real-life Desmond Doss, the long road to bringing his story to the big screen, the development of the script, where the story does (or, rather, doesn't) fit into the current nature of Hollywood moviemaking, the necessity of the violence in the movie, Gibson's talents as a filmmaker, the casting of Andrew Garfield, the love story aspect of the film and Teresa Palmer's performance, the limitations of the budget and the financing, the predominantly Australian cast and filming in Australia, the set design, the stunts and the practical effects, the sound design and the score.
  • Veterans Day Greeting With Mel Gibson (1:02) - Director Mel Gibson honors veterans with this brief message.
  • Deleted Scenes (4:32) - Six scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:33)

Hacksaw Ridge is available from Elevation Pictures as of February 21st, 2017. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Optimized for Late Night Listening, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 19 Mins.

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