A Few Good Men (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Waaay back in the Fall of 1992, two of the biggest movie stars of all-time teamed up in a military courtroom drama (an underused genre, to be sure). Those two stars were Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson and fifteen years later, they’re still pretty much at the top of their game. Since then Nicholson has won another Oscar and Tom Cruise has changed wives and gotten progressively more and more obsessed with Scientology. I’ll keep Cruise’s social life out of this review from now on but let’s just say that his marquee power is still pretty much the same it was, if not more, than fifteen years ago. For those who don’t know A Few Good Men was based on a play written for the stage (and later on, the screen) by Aaron Sorkin; the creative force behind “The West Wing” during its early years. Putting Cruise and Nicholson aside, we’ve also got an ensemble cast that included Demi Moore (at the top of her game and still coasting in the wake of her success with “Ghost” a few years earlier), Kevin Bacon, James Marshall, Kiefer Sutherland, Christopher Guest and Kevin Pollack to name but a few. So there’s star power, a great script and I might add – overacting at its finest. Ladies and gentlemen, A Few Good Men.

For those that are intimidated by a fancy plot line, this one is fairly easy to understand. Two Marines are accused of murder when they mistakenly kill one of their own during a routine joke. The Marines are sent to Washington DC where they await trial. The case looks to be open and shut, but it’s assigned to cocky young law school graduate, Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise). Kaffee has a track record for plea bargaining and soon figures out that there may more to this case than meets the eye. Together with his team of investigators, Jo Ann (Demi Moore) and Sam (Kevin Pollack) the trio must literally prove the impossible in that the two Marines are innocent and it was a series of unfortunate events that led to the death and not malice. The case does eventually see a courtroom and Kaffee is up against friend and Marine lawyer Jack Ross (Kevin Bacon) who has the somewhat easy task of going through the motions. Push comes to shove and it’s not long before some of the heavy hitters are brought in, namely Lt. Kendrick (Kiefer Sutherland) and Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson). The ending act is what I had mentioned earlier, overacting at its finest, yet it oddly seems to work here. Watching Cruise and Nicholson exchange blows has some kind of guilty pleasure written all over it.

The movie was a critical and commercial success, even garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Picture (it lost to “Unforgiven”) and more importantly, made a name for screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. I think had this movie been a flop, we’d never have seen “The West Wing”. Courtroom dramas come and go and most are entertaining, but very rarely deliver on what they promise. A Few Good Men has pretty much everything one could want in a film: star power, great direction (by Rob Reiner), a solid plot and a great script. A few things get lost in the shuffle but for me, this movie seems to have held up in the test of time. I’ve seen it countless times and every time seem to enjoy it just a bit more. For those out there that haven’t had the opportunity to see the movie, this is certainly the way to see it and if you’re sick of your old VHS, LaserDisc or standard DVD – give this Blu-ray disc a spin, it puts the movie in a whole different light.

Video: How does it look?

Visually, the 2.35:1 VC-1 HD transfer is pretty stunning. I’ve always been impressed with the way this movie looks on video and later DVD and this new Blu-ray disc is certainly no exception. Flesh tones are warm and natural, most of the scenes are during the day and the warm, brown hues of the ending courtroom sequence look especially radiant. The film is fifteen years old, so I was expecting a few blips here and there but I really was hard-pressed to find any. The sheer sharpness of the picture really took me and I really can’t say enough as to how good this looks in high definition.

Audio: How does it sound?

While A Few Good Men looks great, the soundtrack holds its own as well. As with most Sony Blu-ray releases, we get the standard Dolby 5.1 mix along with a PCM uncompressed mix that sounds a few notches better. The movie has never been reference material when it comes to sound and that hasn’t changed here. There’s not a lot to challenge the speakers, and the film is mostly dialogue. There is a great overall instrumental soundtrack that sounds pretty good and dialogue is very clean. No complaints here.

Supplements: What are the extras?

All of the supplements from the previous special edition standard DVD have made their way here starting out with a commentary track by director Rob Reiner. Reiner gives us a decent track, chock full of information about the shoot, the cast and the story. Fans of the movie will love Reiner’s approach to the track. There are also two featurettes, a retrospective looking back at the film with both new and archived interviews with the main players of the movie and a more articulate featurette with Aaron Sorkin who tells of the film’s progression from script to screen. All in all, A Few Good Men ranks up there with some of my more enjoyable movies and it looks and sounds great in high definition. A must for all fans and for those who are just curious, a rental should suffice.

Disc Scores