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Check out our review of this epic drama that follows the incredible true life story of Olympian and war hero Louis "Louie" Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) who, along with two other crewmen, survived on a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII – only to be caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.




The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

94



Details:

Studio and Year: Universal - 2014
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 138 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund, Miyavi, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, Luke Treadaway, John Magaro, Ross Anderson
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Written by: Joel Cohen, Ethan Cohen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 24, 2015


"Survival. Resilience. Redemption"


My Take:



Based on the book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken chronicles the incredible true story of Louie Zamperini, a working class kid from Torrance, California, who transformed himself from juvenile delinquent to a 1936 Olympian by channeling his defiant energy into a shocking talent for running. Louie’s unfaltering determination and ferocious will then carried him through monumental tribulations during his military service and he became a true American hero.

Told from the perspective of the man who lived it Unbroken is a powerful dramatic film that engages at nearly every turn. Opening with Louie as a WWII bombardier on a perilous mission with his crew in the Pacific theater, the film moves back and forth between that and the poignant moments of his life beginning with his childhood. Coming from an Italian immigrant family Louie had his share of troubles as a youngster. It wasn’t until his older brother noticed his prowess as a speedster, a skill honed by brushes with bullies and the law, that he found his true calling. Louie was a born runner and athlete, which is something that would take him to new heights.

When the U.S. entered WWII Louie joined up, not knowing that his life would never be the same again. He was strong of spirit and not easily shaken even in the face of insurmountable peril. Louie’s fortitude would be put to the test when he and several of his crew members survived a devastating crippled airplane crash in the middle of the Pacific that would leave them stranded, starving and on the brink for 47 days. As luck would have it they were rescued. Unfortunately the luck wasn’t good as their rescuers were the Japanese Navy. Louie now became a prisoner of war. He would undergo the ultimate test of inner strength driven by the will to survive in the face of sheer adversity at the hands of a despicable war criminal bent on shattering his will.

Unbroken is an inspirational biopic film that tells Louie Zamperini’s incredible and true story which depicts triumph over tribulation and the resilient power of the indomitable human spirit. The segmented script provides a solid foundation for its protagonist as we follow his story via snippets of his childhood and young adult life as an athlete. The heart of the narrative begins with the struggle for survival after the plane crash, through the suffered atrocities during Louie’s interment as a Japanese prisoner of war. The film is stirring and at times disturbing as the depiction of the disdain and brutal tactics used by the Japanese are portrayed. Underneath it is a rousing sense of pride as Louie refuses to completely succumb despite the grave nature of his plight.

I generally tend to favor biopic films especially those that depict themes surrounding historic events and/or the extremity of the human condition. Unbroken doesn’t break the mold from a conceptual standpoint but that doesn’t make it any less impactful. I watched it with my son and my wife and we were all caught up in its emotion. The cast, primarily Jack O’Connell, gave strong performances which were aptly served by Angelina Jolie’s direction and the excellent cinematography by Roger Deakins.

Unbroken tells a story that many would have otherwise never known about. It may not be an original film but is strikes all the right chords and introduces us to an American hero that never gave up and never surrendered.


Parental Guide:

The rating is for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**



Audio: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA


Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:


Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness:
  • Entertainment factor:



Unbroken comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 22 Mbps and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

This is an excellent high definition rendering from Universal that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective during wide angle camera pans. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide angle shots of the daytime ocean vistas and small California town look terrific. The use of CGI occasionally softened the image but this didn’t infringe upon overall fidelity which I found to be high. Framed at 2.40:1 images onscreen have excellent depth and a stimulating visual aura. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Unbroken looks great on Blu-ray.

The lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (core) soundtrack (this is a first on Blu-ray from Universal I believe) has excellent dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s thematic elements. Alexandre Desplat’s music score, coupled with well integrated discrete and atmospheric sound effects, plays an intricate role in this sometimes active surround mix. The additional rear channels aren’t always in play however when applied the detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is excellent. Just listen during the opening sequence as the exterior and interior sounds of the airplane battle sweep through the room. The same is true during the storm at sea as the power of the wind and crashing waves are appreciably involving. The LFE channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich bass and dynamic impact associated with the sounds of battle. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and balance within the front soundstage. I thoroughly enjoyed this audio presentation and found that it complimented the film’s thematic tone.


This is Universal Studios first use of Dolby Atmos on Blu-ray and the results are quite good. In listening to the surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix atmospheric sounds, music and discrete effects. This is done to excellent effect and creates an engaging level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events. The opening segment features a group of WWII bombers coming into view from the distance and flying toward and past the camera. The effect is quite good as the aircrafts start at the front of the soundstage and fly off overhead to the right and rear. Shortly after the sounds of battle fill the room as Japanese Zeros swoop in and around with machine gun fire from both them and the allied guns aboard the aircraft taking center stage. The various sounds emanating from above and around effectively place you aboard plane. This is done to similar effect later in the film during the crash and storm at sea sequences. Subtly works just as nicely as seen in the brief segment when soft rain begins to fall from above on the stranded flyers as they lay in their inflatable life raft. The music score is spread throughout the soundstage which adds an enriching element to the presentation as a whole. While this isn’t what I would regard as an aggressive Atmos mix it adds an engaging and complimentary element that truly enhanced the film.



Bonus Features:
  • * Exclusive(HD) 10 deleted scenes
  • * Exclusive (HD) Inside Unbroken (3 featurettes totaling 26 minutes):
    1. Fifty years in the making
    2. The fight of the storyteller
    3. Hardiest generation
  • * Exclusive(HD) Cast/Crew concert featuring Miyavi – 7 minutes
  • * Exclusive(HD) Prison Camp Theater: Cinderella – 6 minute featturette
  • The Real Zamperini – 29 minute documentary
  • * Exclusive(HD) Louis’ path to forgiveness – 6 minute featurette
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy



Final Thoughts:

Based on the book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken is an inspirational biopic film that tells Louie Zamperini’s incredible and true story which depicts triumph over tribulation and the resilient power of the indomitable human spirit. It comes to Blu-ray featuring terrific Dolby Atmos/TrueHD multi-channel surround sound, excellent high definition video and a solid supplemental offering that includes lots of worthwhile exclusive content. I found Unbroken to be both a rewarding film and home theater experience. I recommend that you give it a spin on Blu-ray.




Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7702 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
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SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

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Thanks... your reviews are always an enjoyable read. great news you enjoyed the Atmos Mix can't wait till my copy arrives
 
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Should be a good one by a good team; Jolie/Coen. ...Sure to get.

Ralph,

1. Coen ... "Cohen" (no "h") ;)
2. Unbroken]/I] ... Final Thoughts: (small correction ... Unbroken)

Best regards
 

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Awesome, Im looking forward to adding this one to my ATMOS collection, might be my first really decent title lol ^_^
 
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Looking forward to seeing and contrasting how they handled the pow camp compared to railway man.
Ralph,

Saw this in the theater, and agree with your review completely.
My only regret is having read the book first.

  • Movies with surround and ATMOS are great for impact.
  • However (for me); it seems books always tell a more complete story .
Thanks Again Ralph!
 

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My 8802 is in the lab for measurements and this shows up yesterday for review. It's going to be gathering dust until I get the 8002 back next week so I can listen to the Atmos track. You've definitely have me interested now Ralph!

BTW...I see that MichelleP is a ringer...you can't fool me, old man!
 

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My 8802 is in the lab for measurements and this shows up yesterday for review. It's going to be gathering dust until I get the 8002 back next week so I can listen to the Atmos track. You've definitely have me interested now Ralph!

BTW...I see that MichelleP is a ringer...you can't fool me, old man!
Greetings,

Sorry your 8802 is temporarily out of service Dave. Mine arrived this morning and is up and running. ;)

As for MichelleP, yeah, she is close to my heart but most definitely has her own opinions on the films that I review. :)


Regards,
 

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Thanks... your reviews are always an enjoyable read. great news you enjoyed the Atmos Mix can't wait till my copy arrives
Greetings,

Thanks so much for saying so bargervais. I hope you enjoy the Atmos mix as well.. :)


Regards,
 

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Great review Ralph, I too really liked the movie. It's inspirational and heartfelt, a true American hero.
 

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Thanks for the review Ralph, very much appreciated !
 

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This may end up being one of my first Atmos discs. Too bad I'm waiting for a DTS:X equipped model before I can check it out in full Atmos. :(

Great review, Ralph!
 

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Like "The Railway Man" I was on the fence about this one and once again your review has convinced me to watch it. Now I'm sure I will like it just as much as the other one!


Thanks for the great review Ralph,
Ish
 

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I've wanted to give this a go but some of the plot outlines made it sound as though it could be overly preachy in quite the literal sense. Did you have that experience at all Ralph?

Thanks for the review!
 

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I've wanted to give this a go but some of the plot outlines made it sound as though it could be overly preachy in quite the literal sense. Did you have that experience at all Ralph?

Thanks for the review!
Greetings,

I never felt that way but can you expound upon what you mean by preachy?


Regards,
 

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I've wanted to give this a go but some of the plot outlines made it sound as though it could be overly preachy in quite the literal sense. Did you have that experience at all Ralph?

Thanks for the review!
The book is definitely not preachy, it's a very detailed experience of his experience. It's worth a read.
 
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