January 02, 2008
| by Rachel Cericola
Forget the funny, sexy, singing Jamie Foxx. It is movies like “The Kingdom” where the part-time crooner gets to be a serious badass.
Foxx, along with FBI agents Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman, go to Saudi Arabia to investigate a vicious terror attack on U.S. oil workers during a company softball game. (The scene is truly heart wrenching.) Unfortunately, they aren’t getting the help that they need, which makes sense since they really aren’t supposed to be there anyway.
The film has been pretty accurately described as “CSI: Riyadh,” while throwing in a high-kill count and tummy-aching action. The movie is surprisingly good, but does go from making a very interesting statement about what’s going on in the Middle East to a Rambo-style shoot-em-up. That’s no surprise, considering Michael Mann’s (“Miami Vice”) producer credit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. After all, we are seeking entertainment here, and “The Kingdom” does deliver.
Displayed in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, this is a great action-packed transfer with tons of great colors, and crisp dark greens and blacks—of which there are many. The documentary-style adds to the film’s realism, from the attacks and extracting evidence from the deceased to rollercoaster-style car rides and casing the perimeter.
The detail is excellent, even in the darkest scenes. The audio is also a major component, as is with most action movies. So why they didn’t go with TrueHD is beyond me, but the sound doesn’t seem to suffer. As sad as the subject matter can be, it’s this type of movie that really makes you appreciate the quality that HD DVD can provide.
There are plenty of extras to keep film fans happy, including features that dissect action sequences as well as the ability to follow characters in the final scene. One very cool highlight is the “History of The Kingdom: An Interactive Timeline,” which may fill in some historical blanks for viewers that are less familiar with the real-life background story. I know I needed a refresher in some areas.
“The Kingdom” seemed to fly under the radar when it was released in theaters, but should certainly enjoy a second life on video. HD DVD owners will not be disappointed.
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.