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Sully: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Sully (2016) movie poster Sully

Theatrical Release: September 9, 2016 / Running Time: 96 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Clint Eastwood / Writers: Todd Komarnicki (screenplay); Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, Jeffrey Zaslow (book Highest Duty)

Cast: Tom Hanks (Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger), Aaron Eckhart (Jeff Skiles), Laura Linney (Lorrie Sullenberger), Mike O'Malley (Charles Porter), Anna Gunn (Elizabeth Davis), Jamey Sheridan (Ben Edwards), Ann Cusack (Donna Dent), Jane Gabbert (Sheila Dail), Molly Hagan (Doreen Welsh), Holt McCallany (Mike Cleary), Chris Bauer (Larry Rooney), Patch Darragh (Patrick Harten), Sam Huntington (Jeff Kolodjay), Max Adler (Jimmy Stefanik), Christopher Curry (Rob Kolodjay), Valerie Mahaffey (Diane Higgins), Delphi Harrington (Lucille Palmer), Autumn Reeser (Passenger with Baby), Michael Rappaport (Bartender - Pete), Jerry Ferrara (Michael Delaney), Katie Couric (Herself), Bobby Cuza (Himself)

Buy Sully from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD 2-Disc DVD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Instant Video

Clint Eastwood has not been nominated for a directing Oscar since 2006's Letters from Iwo Jima. Tom Hanks has not been nominated for an Oscar since 2000's Cast Away.
And yet, these two giants of industry collaborating for the first time to tell the true story of pilot Chesley Sullenberger's heroics made Sully feel like the start of 2016's award season in early September after its premiere at the Telluride Film Festival.

Sullenberger's unprecedented January 2009 emergency forced landing of a US Airways flight on the Hudson River with all 155 passengers alive and virtually unscathed made for the rare feel-good story involving modern aviation. In another time, the incident may have lent to a TV movie of the week. But in this case, Sullenberger's best-selling book Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, co-written with Jeffrey Zaslow, has been adapted by Perfect Stranger scribe Todd Komarnicki and turned into a mid-budgeted action drama with two of Hollywood's all-time biggest names and, by extension, plenty of commercial potential attached.

Despite the title, Sully is no biopic. While it gives us two brief scenes of a younger Sullenberger being introduced to flight, it is fully aware that it is one unusual incident that makes us fascinated with its hero. As the film repeatedly states, that incident, dubbed the Miracle on the Hudson by the media, lasted a mere 208 seconds. How do you stretch such a brief encounter to feature length? Eastwood and Komarnicki figured that out. They open with the action you expect: the low-flying plane above New York City, dodging buildings until it cannot. Not the way you remember it? It's a nightmare and one that Captain Sullenberger (Hanks in his first white-haired role) is understandably plagued by following his once-in-a-lifetime flight.

Clint Eastwood's "Sully" stars Tom Hanks as Chesley Sullenberger, the seasoned pilot whose quick thinking performed the forced water landing dubbed the Miracle on the Hudson.

The film gives us a good look at that fateful Flight 1549: Sully and first officer Jeff Skiles (an even more fully mustachioed Aaron Eckhart) making small talk in the cockpit, the plane's engines being struck by a flock of birds, passengers being told to brace for impact by visibly shaken flight attendants. When it isn't returning to that flight (from various angles, including an air traffic controller's perspective) and the lead-up to it (passengers' airport experiences), the film dramatizes what Sully and, to a lesser degree, Skiles are going through in the wake of their harrowing maneuvers. There is media fervor and, more distressingly to our protagonist, there is a full investigation by the National Transportation Security Board to determine what went wrong and whether or not Sully made the right decision to attempt the dangerous water landing rather than try to either return to LaGuardia or land on the runway of New Jersey's nearby Teterboro Airport.

Even with everyone onboard surviving, Sully questions whether his gut reaction decision was the right one, feeling the weight of scrutiny as the lawyers and insurance people try to surmise what role human error might have played in the episode that the city, nation, and world are quick to laud as sheer and uncommon heroism.

Sully kind of bristles at that hero label, not being familiar or comfortable with the attention, the widespread TV coverage, and the random hugs and kisses. He's a quiet, hard worker, who has been flying planes for 42 years. Hanks injects the role with understated humanity, having our sympathy and support from start to finish. We don't know what he's going through, but we can still relate, as his actions are put under the microscope and undermined by computer and human-piloted simulations.

Sully (Tom Hanks) and Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) maintain their mustaches under fire.

This is not the kind of film Eastwood has gravitated to in the past, his directorial tastes being more towards dark tales of redemption. Perhaps the tremendous success of his last film, American Sniper,
has led the 86-year-old legend's heart to a deeper appreciation of modern heroism while acknowledging the demons that come with the territory. Sully is thought-provoking and engaging, elevating what might just be a corny true life disaster movie into something substantial and resonant.

Running just 96 minutes, Sully must be Eastwood's shortest film to date, but the length suits the story well. Surrounding Hanks' nomination-worthy turn are a number of veterans hitting the needed notes in limited opportunities, from Eckhart to Laura Linney as Sully's wife to Mike O'Malley, Anna Gunn, and Jamey Sheridan as the investigation team leads to Michael Rappaport as a star-struck bartender.

It isn't always easy to dramatize a recent, well-known real life event, but Sully does about as an excellent job as anyone could hope for. That job was rewarded both in overwhelming critical acclaim and ticket sales unusually formidable for an adult drama. After opening in first place with a stellar $35 million, Sully went on to gross $125 M domestic and $228 M worldwide, Hanks' best numbers on a live-action film since 2009's Angels & Demons. That reception made Sully look like 2016's first solidified awards contender.

But it's hard to sustain that kind of buzz for one-third of a year, and the film has been pushed to the sidelines in recent days after getting snubbed by the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild. I still think it has a great shot at cracking the Oscar field because Warner Bros. puts out more movies than anyone else and consistently gets at least one film into the Best Picture race. The only other contender they've got this year is Live By Night, the Ben Affleck gangster movie that isn't opening wide until January and may only feature in technical categories at best. Passed over for Road to Perdition, Catch Me If You Can, Captain Phillips, and Bridge of Spies, Hanks feels due for another nod (and frankly, he should have won his third back for Cast Away). We'll see if either Warner's Best Picture streak or Sully's string of misses ends when the Academy announces their nominations on January 27th.

In the meantime, Sully hits stores just in time for Christmas in this week's two-disc DVD, 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD, and Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD releases.

Sully: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Service, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: December 20, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as 2-Disc DVD ($28.98 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($44.95 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

At the very least, Clint Eastwood's films always deliver on a technical level. Sully is no exception there. Blu-ray presents this polished film well, sporting sterling 2.40:1 picture and a suitably engaging Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack. There is a 4K Ultra HD edition available, should your TV be large enough to demand even better, but this presentation should leave nothing to be desired visually or aurally on most home theaters.

Who is that clean-shaven man? Believe it or not, it's Sully Sullenberger: The Man Behind the Miracle. Where's the stache, Sully? Tom Hanks throws a spontaneous Sully dance party amidst a sea of green screen in "Neck Deep in the Hudson."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

On Blu-ray, Sully is joined by three HD featurettes. The standalone DVD gets the same extras,

but on the second disc of a 2-disc set, so the extras only make it to Blu-ray here.

Focusing on the event not the movie, "Moment by Moment: Averting Disaster on the Hudson" (15:44) reflects on the fateful flight with comments from the real (sadly unmustachioed) Sully, Skiles and air traffic controller (with excerpts of flight audio). It's a fitting companion to the film and somewhat distinctive for a bonus feature.

As you can guess, "Sully Sullenberger: The Man Behind the Miracle" (19:49) celebrates the pilot at the heart of the film. It gives us more of a biography than the film itself does, with further new comments from Sully, his wife, and his daughter.

Finally, "Neck Deep in the Hudson: Shooting Sully" (20:17) addresses the film's production, from casting to Hanks and Eckhart's simulator training to filming with gimbals. It fits the bill as a needed making-of featurette.

The discs open with trailers for Collateral Beauty, Live by Night, The Accountant, and Suicide Squad, with a promo for digital movies playing in between the first two on Blu-ray and at the end of the reel on DVD. Per studio practice, Sully's own trailers are nowhere to be found here.

The basic menu applies score to poster art.

Updating that slightly, the Blu-ray artwork is reproduced in a glossy slipcover, topping an eco-friendly keepcase whose insert supplies your Digital HD code and a 4K Ultra HD ad alongside the two plain, black discs.

Captain Sully (Tom Hanks) and First Officer Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) are not used to the scrutiny they receive in the wake of their fateful flight.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Sully cracks the mystery of how to turn a news-making 208-second incident into a gripping feature film. Clint Eastwood's tale serves up the excitement of the airplane's double engine failure and quick-thinking water landing, but also the human drama that makes the story so resonant with the public. Great acting complements the fine filmmaking to turn this into one of 2016's best films.

A trio of strong featurettes and top-notch picture and sound make Sully one of the year's most easily recommended releases.

Buy Sully from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / 2-Disc DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Florence Foster Jenkins Hell or High Water War Dogs
Directed by Clint Eastwood: American Sniper Jersey Boys J. Edgar Hereafter Invictus Million Dollar Baby
Tom Hanks: Captain Phillips Bridge of Spies A Hologram for the King Saving Mr. Banks Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Tom Hanks (cont'd): Catch Me If You Can Forrest Gump The Terminal | Aaron Eckhart: My All-American Olympus Has Fallen
Flight The Walk Zero Dark Thirty Lone Survivor Wings

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Reviewed December 19, 2016.



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