Men of Honor: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Based on a true story, Men of Honor tells the chain of events that surround Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and his dream to become a master class diver in the Navy. Since Brashear is a black man however, that won’t be a simple task, as no one aside from whites has ever been selected to join the elite dive teams. He was inspired by the heroics of a diver however and no matter what it takes, Brashear is determined to make his dream come true. Soon enough, Carl finds himself enrolled in the diving training camp and his instructor is the man who inspired him to become a diver, Billy Sunday (Robert De Niro). Of course, this thrills Brashear and he loves to be around Sunday, but his instructor does not return that sentiment and in truth, would love to see Brashear fail in every respect. In addition to his problems in that area, Brashear also faces brutal hazing times from his fellow students, as well as various other obstacles. Can Brashear overcome the almost impossible odds and make his dream come true, by becoming a U.S. Navy Master Diver?

I knew this would be worth a look as soon as the names Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. flashed across the screen, but even so, I was surprised with how much I liked Men of Honor. I expected terrific performances of course, but I was really taken in by the storyline and although I wasn’t inspired, I do feel it was very well written and executed. Now I do think the lead performances are so good that some flaws in the material are glossed over, but in the end, I feel Men of Honor has a more than solid storyline and unfolds rather well. Gooding and De Niro have some help from the support cast also, which includes Hal Holbrook, Charlize Theron, Michael Rapaport, Powers Boothe, and Michael Keith. In other words, Men of Honor has a wealth of excellent performances and on that basis alone, the flick is worth seeing, if you ask me. But the rest of the elements also work well, which forms a very solid overall picture, although not a classic by any means. I give this one a good recommendation and whether you choose to rent or purchase, your money will be spent with this release, thanks to a terrific treatment from Fox.

He has an Oscar under his belt and a number of terrific performances, but to me, Cuba Gooding, Jr. still hasn’t found his niche in the business. When he is given the right roles, Gooding explodes on screen and commands the audience, but more often than not, he ends up in shallow films with little chance to shine. I prefer his energetic, but more dialogue driven turns to his action geared roles, but in Men of Honor, he is able to blend the two very well. A lot of physical demands are made upon him, but he is also allowed to open up a lot, which is where he works best, especially in scenes with Robert De Niro. Another solid effort from Gooding and although I think he is doomed to forever be a supporting player, I still like most of his work. Other films with Gooding include A Murder Of Crows, Outbreak, Jerry Maguire, Boyz N The Hood, As Good As It Gets, What Dreams May Come, and A Few Good Men. The rest of the cast here includes Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver, Meet The Parents), Aunjanue Ellis (A Map of the World, In Too Deep), Hal Holbrook (Waking The Dead, The Firm), David Keith (U-571, Major League II), Powers Boothe (Sudden Death, Red Dawn), Michael Rapaport (Small Time Crooks, Lucky Numbers), and Charlize Theron (The Devil’s Advocate, Reindeer Games).

Video: How does it look?

Men of Honor is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As we’ve come to expect from Fox these days, this transfer is razor sharp and shows minimal flaws, very impressive indeed. The image is clean and crisp at all times and aside from some very slight errors, I found nothing to complain about in the least. The colors have a bright, but natural look and flesh tones seem normal also, no problems there. Also in fine form is the contrast, which sports ample black level balance and no visible detail loss at all. Another disc from Fox and of course, another top notch visual presentation.

Audio: How does it sound?

I was very pleased with the audio here, thanks to the very active Dolby Digital 5.1 track used. Now this film isn’t as explosive and powerful as more action driven pictures, but the included track is quite dynamic and is never a let down in the least. The surrounds see more than their fair share of attention, from both the numerous sound effects and Mark Isham’s soundtrack, which is terrific and well presented here. As I mentioned, this is not the powerful mix I’ve ever heard, but it handles the material well and offers an immersive experience, above average in all respects. The vocals come through well also, always in clean, crisp form and no signs of volume errors to contend with. This disc also contains 2.0 surround tracks in English and French, as well as subtitles in Spanish and English.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc is labeled a special edition and it has the content to back that up, starting off with two featurettes, each well worth a look. The first a general behind the scenes piece, which runs about fourteen minutes and offers the usual cast & crew interviews, as well as some clips from the film mixed in. The other is a seven minute look at the real Carl Brashear, which was very interesting and adds some impact to the film, since we can match a real face to the events. A selection of deleted sequences (twelve in total) have also been included, which are enhanced by an introduction from the director, as well as optional commentary on the scenes themselves. The commentary option is terrific here, as we can learn why the scenes were cut and that makes these a lot more informative, I think. A series of animated storyboards are next, which once again can be viewed with or without comments from the director, very cool indeed. The disc also includes a music video for Brian McKnight’s “Win”, a promo piece for the soundtrack, two television spots, and of course, the film’s theatrical trailer. A very well assembled and informative selection of extras, much better than the usual promotional tools, to be sure.

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