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Hacksaw Ridge: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Hacksaw Ridge (2016) movie poster Hacksaw Ridge

Theatrical Release: November 4, 2016 / Running Time: 139 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Mel Gibson / Writers: Robert Schenkkan, Andrew Knight

Cast: Andrew Garfield (Desmond Doss), Sam Worthington (Captain Glover), Luke Bracey (Smitty Ryker), Teresa Palmer (Dorothy Schutte), Hugo Weaving (Tom Doss), Rachel Griffiths (Bertha Doss), Vince Vaughn (Sgt. Howell), Matt Nable (Lt. Colonel Cooney), Nathaniel Buzolic (Harold "Hal" Doss), Richard Roxburgh (Colonel Stelzer), Ryan Corr (Lieutenant Manville), Milo Gibson (Lucky Ford), Goran Kleut ("Ghoul"), Firass Dirani (Vito Rinnelli), Luke Pegler (Hollywood Zane), Ben Mingay (Grease Nolan), James Mackay (Prosecutor), Darcy Bryce (Young Desmond Doss), Roman Guerriero (Young "Hal" Doss)

Buy Hacksaw Ridge from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Instant Video

Reprehensible private comments made public turned Mel Gibson into a Hollywood outcast, but they can't make us forget the filmmaking gifts he displayed on The Man Without a Face, Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ. Ten years after his last time at the helm (2006's Apocalypto) and half a dozen failed attempts to revive his acting career later,
Gibson returns to directing in grand fashion on Hacksaw Ridge, a World War II drama telling the little-known true story of Desmond Doss, a U.S. Army medic who refused to bear arms as a conscientious objector.

Glimpses of Desmond's childhood establish him as one of two fight-prone brothers whose father (Hugo Weaving) is an alcoholic World War I veteran. A near-lethal incident in which Desmond struck his brother in the face with a brick drives the boy away from violence. As a young man, Desmond (Andrew Garfield henceforth) is a good boy, who helps out his family's church and saves a stranger's life with a quick-thinking, improvised tourniquet.

The latter incident introduces Des to Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), a pretty nurse he charms. Before long, he's asked Dorothy to marry him before he enlists in the Army. With romance mostly out of the way, we move to the main event: Desmond's experiences in the Army. In basic training, he is taunted by officers and peers alike for his unprecedented position not to touch a weapon. The officers (Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington) try to get him dismissed with a psychological evaluation and court martial. The peers leave him bruised and bloodied in a display of threatened solidarity.

The first hour of "Hacksaw Ridge" lightly depicts a romance forming between nurse Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer) and Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield).

But when the time comes, Des is there with his fellow troops in Japan, prepared to do what he can in the Battle of Okinawa. There, the Allied soldiers face great resistance as they try to ascend Hacksaw Ridge, a mountain fortified by heavily armed and well-defended Japanese soldiers. Can Desmond stay alive and somehow prove heroic without lifting a rifle? Would anyone be making a movie about him seventy years later if he couldn't?

Knowing Gibson, you expect Hacksaw Ridge to be a graphic and violent experience. An opening scene and the hard R rating suggest it will be. So, it's surprising to then get close to an hour of what feels like the romantic portions of Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. Hacksaw is somewhat sweet and plenty corny in these parts. But you always know they are just the appetizer to a main course in which torsos will be shredded, limbs will go flying, and brain fragments will splatter. Gibson does not shy from the brutality of WWII, which for a long time was glamorized by the movies and understandably so. But nearly twenty years have passed since Saving Private Ryan and by now, most of us are familiar with the hellishness and savagery experienced by what Tom Brokaw deemed The Greatest Generation.

While Hacksaw Ridge can't surprise us in this way, it can still stir and unsettle us and it does. But it distinguishes itself from other war movies by focusing not on an ensemble of fictional composites, but on one unusual and largely unsung hero. Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist who requests Saturdays off in observation of his Sabbath, clings to his faith just as he clings to the pocket-sized Bible that Dorothy gives him with a photo of her inside. And while most Hollywood movies that bring faith into the mix keep things PG-rated and amateurish, Gibson knows how to incorporate belief into cinema that is simultaneously polished, gritty, mainstream, and artistic.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) doesn't need to bear arms to make a difference for his fellow soldier on the battlefield.

Garfield's appealing lead performance, as well as his even better turn in Martin Scorsese's underappreciated Silence, makes a strong case for him having a productive career long beyond his short stint as Spider-Man.
Vaughn and Worthington are also good in their roles and both could use the boost that a respectable credit could give them. Palmer, who has long dabbled in semi-prominent genre fare (from Warm Bodies to summer sleeper Lights Out), is fine in the one female role of note.

I wasn't sure if it would, but Hacksaw Ridge has given Gibson the industry-wide redemption that eluded him for ten years. Apocalypto, released at the height of his initial drunken arrest controversy, managed to gross over $50 million domestic and $120 M worldwide and that was a violent Mayan language action epic. This more accessible and relatable film managed to gross $67 M domestic and $175 M worldwide, numbers that are virtually identical when adjusted for inflation. More impressive than the public reception is Hacksaw's award season presence. The film drew six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (gasp!), and Best Actor. It didn't win any of those, but it did take home two Oscars on Sunday, for Best Editing and Best Sound Mixing, the latter giving 21-time nominee Kevin O'Connell his first win.

Five days prior to Oscar Sunday, Lionsgate brought Hacksaw Ridge to DVD, Blu-ray combo pack, and 4K Ultra HD.

Hacksaw Ridge: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Late Night Viewing Optimized, Descriptive Video Service)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9 & BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on standalone DVD ($29.98 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($29.99 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

As you expect, Hacksaw Ridge looks good on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 presentation offers nice detail and clarity throughout. Commanding even more notice is the Dolby Atmos/7.1 TrueHD soundtrack, which envelops you with the sounds of war and makes clear to you why the film was nominated in both of the Oscars' sound categories (and won one).

Mel Gibson directs Hugo Weaving and Andrew Garfield in a cemetery scene in making-of documentary "The Soul of War." A very bearded Mel Gibson acknowledges veterans in this Veterans Day greeting.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD extras begin
with "The Soul of War: Making Hacksaw Ridge" (1:09:45), an extremely thorough and unusually candid documentary on the film's production. Comments are complimented by behind-the-scenes footage; both are supplied in abundance. Among topics covered are the challenges to get it made in the current film climate (e.g. Walden Media wanted a soft PG-13 version). It's pretty rare to get a piece this in depth these days.

A Veterans Day Greeting with Mel Gibson is a one-minute camera address from Gibson to those who have served in the military, also obviously designed to promote his movie.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) talks with food in his mouth in this deleted picnic scene. Soldiers gather on the Hacksaw Ridge DVD main menu.

Six deleted scenes run 4 minutes and 32 seconds
and emanate from all different parts of the movie.

In a nice touch that is uncommon for a Lionsgate release, Hacksaw Ridge's original theatrical trailer (2:33) is preserved here.

Those hoping to get a Mel Gibson audio commentary, possibly recorded without his knowledge, receive no such treat here.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the disc-opening trailers for Patriots Day, Deepwater Horizon, Hell or High Water, and Blood Father.

The DVD only gets the deleted scenes and Veterans Day greeting, although in its defense it is filled close to dual-layered capacity.

The menu loops a standard montage of clips over a listings bar.

The two nearly-identical full-color discs share a standard eco-friendly keepcase with a Digital HD insert. The case is topped by an embossed slipcover featuring the same artwork below.

In the role that landed him his first Oscar nomination, Andrew Garfield plays Desmond Doss, a pacifist and conscientious objector who nonetheless served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Though I'd only rank it eighth of the nine Best Picture nominees, Hacksaw Ridge is a good movie on its own merits. It warrants a viewing, but whether you will be able to give it more than one depends on your threshold for gruesome war imagery. Lionsgate's Blu-ray combo pack treats the film to a solid feature presentation plus an unusually comprehensive making-of documentary. Those anticipating repeat viewings should be quite satisfied by this release.

Buy Hacksaw Ridge from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Related Giveaway: Win the Hacksaw Ridge Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack!

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Andrew Garfield: 99 Homes The Amazing Spider-Man The Amazing Spider-Man 2 | Teresa Palmer: Knight of Cups Lights Out
Vince Vaughn: Fred Claus Delivery Man | Sam Worthington: Everest Avatar | Hugo Weaving: The Dressmaker
Directed by Mel Gibson: Apocalypto Braveheart

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Reviewed February 28, 2017.



Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016-2017 Summit Entertainment, Cross Creek Pictures, Demarest Media, Argent Pictures, IM Global, AI Film Productions,
Vendian Entertainment, Kylin Pictures, Pandemonium Films, Permut Presentations, and Lionsgate. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.