Plot: What’s it about?
After D-Day, the German forces seemed to have been crushed, both in number and in spirit, as the defeat was a crucial one. The American side thinks the Germans are not only on the ropes, but knocked out and the victory is within reach. The Germans, while bruised and demoralized, have not given up on the war and since the Americans don’t know that, an edge could be garnered. But if the Germans are to have a chance, a quick and impressive assault must be launched. An attack that drives back the Americans and makes room for even more German advances. The plan is to reclaim the skies from the Americans and in the process, clear a path for the new German planes to fly unobstructed. If the assault works, the Germans will be back with a vengeance, but a failure would almost surely seal their fate. When the dust settles from this epic campaign, which side will be able to claim victory?
I’ve seen more war movies than I can remember, ones about the Civil War, ones about Vietnam, and even ones about the French Revolution, but one war has more movies than the others combined. Of course, the most filmed conflict is World War II, with movies produced about individuals, squadrons, and battles, with an endless assortment of pictures out there. Then again, there is a wealth of material to take these films from, given the two theaters of war and the vast number of countries involved. While Battle of the Bulge isn’t one of my personal favorites, the movie is solid and well crafted. While the battle is epic in scope, the film balances a personal side too, as we’re in the trenches with these soldiers. The atmosphere comes off as realistic, though the total brutal nature of war isn’t well captured. The accuracy is off at times also, but as a war picture, Battle of the Bulge is a good one and deserves a solid recommendation.
Video: How does it look?
Battle of the Bulge is presented in 2.74:1 anamorphic widescreen. A brand new transfer has been created for this release, complete with digital restoration. This is a terrific visual effort, one which should please fans and impress first time viewers. The print is clean, with no serious debris or grain issues, though I did detect softness in some sequences. No problems with flesh tones or colors, as hues retain a bright, but natural texture that never falters in the least. The contrast performs well also, with deep and stark black levels that provide accurate detail levels at all times. This is not a masterful restoration, but it is a welcome revamped treatment that improves the visuals quite a lot.
Audio: How does it sound?
Also new is a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and while I had some reservations, the soundtrack turns out to be a good one. The surrounds, as expected have a lot of presence once the battle picks up, with explosions, gunfire, and other war related sound effects. So the power is here and the surrounds don’t have a forced presence, so the sound is more natural. The low key elements don’t get pushed aside, but in truth, this is more of an all or nothing kind of soundtrack. The more passive scenes come off in decent fashion, but with a little extra work, these could have been much better. I am disappointed by the lack of the original soundtrack, but such is often the case with these new remixes. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, should you need those at some point.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes two vintage featurettes, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.