Plot: What’s it about?
There’s an image ingrained in my mind that I think of whenever I hear or see parts of “G.I. Jane”. It was during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in which they panned the crowd (I believe it was at the opening ceremonies, but I could be mistaken) and paused on one shaved-head Demi Moore. Unlike Brittany Spears, she did this for a role in a movie and not because, well, she’s crazy. The role was for Jordan O’Neil and the movie was, of course, “G.I. Jane”. The movie was directed by Ridley Scott, so it seemed to have all of the right elements going for it. That and Moore was at the height of her career (“Striptease” aside, naturally) so what could really go wrong? For me, nothing. I actually enjoyed the movie when it came out in theaters and when it arrived the other day, I popped into my player faster than I’ve done anything in a while! A lot has happened in ten years and the military is a bit more “female-friendly” these days but “G.I. Jane” did make somewhat of a statement as all decent movies do (or attempt to).
Moore plays Lt. Jordan O’Neil, a tactical officer who had applied for combat duty in the Gulf War (the first one) only to be declined. A strong willed Senator (Anne Bancroft) is looking to grease the wheels with Congress and gets the ball rolling for a woman to be admitted into the prestigious Navy SEAL’s training program Ã¢â‚¬â€œ quite possibly the most elite and difficult training in all of the armed forces. Naturally her boyfriend and fellow officer doesn’t really want her to leave, but this only encourages Jordan all the more. She arrives to cat calls and the Navy has implemented some obstacles for her to make it easier for her. She wants none of that. The master chief (Viggo Mortensen, best known for his role in the Lord of the Rings movies) is the typical tough but fair type and lo and behold, O’Neil is actually making it through the process! Naturally, she wasn’t expected to last this long and the political machine in Washington doesn’t know what to do. Thing happen, fingers are pointed and Jordan isn’t all too happy with being a martyr. Will O’Neil finish the training or become a victim of circumstance?
“G.I. Jane” was pretty much scoffed at by critics. I found it fairly entertaining and a guilty pleasure myself. I have to admit that Moore threw herself into the role, shaving her head and getting in to excellent shape to boot. However, the movie wasn’t exactly a box office success. The supporting cast is fairly recognizable, but Anne Bancroft somewhat steals the scenes she’s in as the feisty Senator. Moore also won the coveted “Razzie” award for worst female actress. For the record she was up against Cameron Diaz, Fran Drescher, Alicia Silverstone and Lauren Holly. Critically-speaking, Ridley Scott has far more hits than misses but I, for one, have always enjoyed “G.I. Jane” and will keep it on my shelf. If by some chance you’ve missed this late 90’s gem then give it a shot.
Video: How does it look?
“G.I. Jane” was one of the earlier titles released on the new DVD format back in 1998. Disney was rather hit or miss back then with their transfers and the film was never re-released in an anamorphic transfer. Thankfully this Blu-ray edition fixes all that and the movie bypasses the standard DVD hoopla with a fairly nice-looking MPEG-4/AVC transfer. Some of the stock footage of Washington looks a bit grainy and some of the outdoor scenes look that way as well. There are some shots that look positively beautiful, but for the most part I’d say it’s about an average release in terms of other Blu-ray titles. Granted the movie is nearly ten years old and HD wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes, but I’ve seen a few HD transfers that look worse. For comparison’s sake I broke out my old copy of “G.I. Jane” on DVD and did some side by sides and let’s just say that the Blu-ray blows the old DVD out of the water. True fans of the film (admit it, you’re out there) won’t think twice about upgrading.
Audio: How does it sound?
One thing the movie has going for it is a very robust sound track. It’s not often that I have to actually turn the volume of my receiver down, but this movie made me do it a few times. The uncompressed PCM soundtrack is among the best I’ve heard and even though the film is nearly a decade old, every channel was humming along for the majority of the movie. The LFE get quite a workout as well, I could almost swear that my room was on the verge of shaking a well. Dialogue and frequency response is well within normal limits. If you want to hear a soundtrack that truly rocks, this is for you.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Disney’s usually very good at providing some sort of supplemental features for their Blu-ray titles but this one is absolutely bare. Well, I take that back Ã¢â‚¬â€œ there’s a “Movie Showcase” that has quick links to three scenes in the movie that show the best in sound and video. Hell, even the standard DVD had a trailer!