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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 1/27/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/22/2015
This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Even before that point, movies were being made about the war -- mostly patriotic pieces meant to boost the morale of soldiers and those back home -- and in the past seven decades, thousands of movies have been made documenting this dark period in history, some of which are considered to be classics. Even with that track record, Hollywood still insists on cranking out World War II movies and it seems that at least once a year we get a big budget spectacular which focuses on the war. Last year's edition was Fury, a Brad Pitt vehicle which attempted to shrink the vast scope of the War into an examination of one group of soldiers.
Fury is set in April of 1945. By that point, Allied forces had made their way into Germany and were pushing towards Berlin. Don Collier (Brad Pitt) is the commander of an American tank which is nicknamed "Fury". He is accompanied by "Bible" (Shia LaBeouf), "Gordo" (Michael Pena), and "Coon-Ass" (Jon Bernthal). The fifth member of the group had been killed in action, so when "Fury" stops at an outpost for fuel and supplies, Collier is assigned a very green soldier named Norman (Logan Lerman), who had been trained as a typist. Back underway, the tank joins a convoy which is assigned to assist other troops. Along the way, "Fury" meets resistance from German soldiers and also helps to secure a town. Once they are on their own, the crew-members of "Fury" learn that that the Germans are down, but they are not done fighting.
Fury comes from David Ayer, who is known for writing gritty urban movies like The Fast and the Furious and Training Day, and for writing and directing End of Watch. So, Fury seems like a real departure for him. But, he also co-wrote the 2000 World War II submarine thrillerU-571, so the era of Fury isn't completely foreign to him. He's simply traded the cramped confines of a submarine for the cramped confines of a tank. Through this, we learn that the crew of the tank must work together as a well-oiled machine in order to quickly subdue their enemies.
At this point in time, it would probably be very difficult to make a truly original movie about World War II, but Ayer does a good job of mixing cliches with a few (somewhat) unique touches. While the battle sequences are well-staged and abundant, they look like things which we've seen before. "Fury" travels down muddy roads, encountering German soldiers on foot, some in bunkers with large caliber machine guns, and even other tanks. Ayer keeps the action moving quickly in these scenes, but there's nothing groundbreaking here. (I'm on World War II movie expert, but I feel certain that there have been others which showed the action from the inside of a tank.) The movie breaks away from its contemporaries (sort of), but putting most of its emphasis on the five main characters. They encounter other soldiers and some civilians along the way, but the bulk of the film has us right in the midst of what goes on in the tank. Norman serves as the link to the audience here, as he knows nothing about tanks and we learn a lot about the inner-workings through his eyes. The characters all fit a specific stereotype, but we still feel like we get to know them.
The main problem with Fury is the pacing. Again there are several action scenes here and they are well-done. However, the group stops in a German town about half-way through the movie and everything just grinds to a halt. The movie morphs into a drama at this point, as Collier and Norman interact with the locals. There are some important moments here which illustrate a bond forming between these two characters, and which also show just how barbaric the soldiers can be, but Ayer lets it go on for far too long, and we begin to itch for the guys to get back in the tank and get going. In addition, the final battle sequence is really long and drawn out, and it reaches a point where it ceases to hold any suspense, although the final message is a nice touch.
Fury does not fall into a genre of which I'm a fan, but I found the movie to be surprisingly engaging. If it hadn't been for those problems with time-management, it would have been quiet impressive. The other issue with the film concerns the story itself. An opening title card tells us that American tanks were inferior to German tanks, but this idea is only explored in one scene. I had expected another title card at the end, letting us know what happened next. (I realize that the Allies won the war, but I had thought that we would get some data or notes on how tanks helped with this.) I realize that Fury is meant to be entertainment and not a history lesson, but it never hurts to come away from a film with some new information.
Fury offers one shocking shot of the aftermath of a battle on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. As one would expect, this is a dark movie which is filled with dark greens and Earth tones, but the colors look realistic and the image is never overly dark. The level of detail is pretty good, as the image never goes soft, and the depth is above average for a DVD. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The battle sequences sound fantastic, as we are treated to wall-shaking subwoofer and surround sound which has bullets and shells zipping by us constantly. Some of these sounds are nicely individualized and in some instances, we can hear a shot begin in the front speakers and then move to the rear.
The lone special feature on the Fury DVD is "Blood Brothers" (11 minutes) explores the characters and the research that was done. We hear from the main cast and Director David Ayer, who talk about meeting with actual veterans to hear their stories and to get a first-hand account of what the war was really like. We also get comments from the veterans themselves, and hear that they appreciate that this story is being told. We also see how the actors went through training to prepare for the film.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long