DVD Review: Kathryn Bigelow’s Incredible ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Deserves More

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CHICAGO – At one point in awards season, right after it won five Chicago Film Critics Association Awards, including Best Picture, Actress, Screenplay, and Director, it really looked like Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” was going to be the most award-winning film of 2012. When all was said and done, it only won a single Oscar for Sound Editing and Bigelow wasn’t even nominated. Was it due to the torture controversy? Perceived similarities to the recent winner “The Hurt Locker”? We’ll never know. But I know two things. 1.) “Zero Dark Thirty” is a fantastic film and history will recognize it as such. 2.) The DVD release is nearly horrendous.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

The transfer is mediocre (I can’t speak to the HD quality on the Blu-ray since Sony would only send the standard) and unfitting of a film this technically accomplished. Even worse, the special features are ridiculously slight. There are a total of four featurettes and they each run under ten minutes long, offering the kind of standard, talking-head material that one finds in a pre-release EPK. It’s just depressing that no one could be bothered to offer something in-depth for such a deep film.

Having said that, you really owe it to yourself to see “Zero Dark Thirty”. Maybe away from the controversy about the facts of the film, one can more easily appreciate the directorial accomplishment. There’s no question in my mind as to the remarkable quality of what Bigelow delivered, managing dozens of speaking roles across an amazing number of locations over years of storytelling. She and Mark Boal took the major points of the story of the war on terror from 9/11 to the death of Osama Bin Laden and made them riveting drama. And Jessica Chastain made them real. See “Zero Dark Thirty” and write Sony and tell them to release a better Blu-ray and DVD. The film deserves it.

Zero Dark Thirty was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 19, 2013
Zero Dark Thirty was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 19, 2013
Photo credit: Sony

For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar-winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (2009, Best Picture, The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.

Special Features:
o No Small Feat - The Making Of Zero Dark Thirty
o The Compound - Tour The Film’s Rebuilt Compound
o Geared Up - Watch The Cast Train With Authentic SEAL Gear
o Targeting Jessica Chastain - A Look At The Role Of Maya

“Zero Dark Thirty” stars Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Stephen Dillane, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Ehle, and James Gandolfini. It was written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 19, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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