American Sniper Review and Blu-ray Features
16 Jan 2015
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Preparation for the role
In order to bulk up 40-plus pounds, Bradley Cooper ate around 8,000 calories a day. Using his own trainer, he worked out four hours a day for several months. Along with the massive intake of food and intense workouts, Cooper’s preparation also included twice-daily lessons with a vocal coach, as well as many hours spent studying footage of Chris. When it came to actually pointing a rifle, the actor trained with Navy SEAL sniper Kevin Lacz, who served with Kyle and was a consultant on the movie.
Would “unleash hell”
Chris Kyle’s father personally told Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper that he would “unleash Hell” if his son’s memory was disrespected in this film. He also said that Eastwood and Cooper were “men he could trust.”
Deadlifting 425 pounds
At his peak, Bradley Cooper could deadlift 425 pounds, twice his bodyweight, for 5 sets of 10 reps each. Cooper said that during a workout scene in the film where he’s seen deadlifting, he was actually deadlifting 425 pounds and that it wasn’t dummy weights on the set even though the film-makers suggested he use dummy weights for the scene
Upon Chris Kyle’s first kill he returns to find another soldier reading a graphic novel. The graphic novel is for the character the Punisher who wears the skull in his chest. This skull is later seen decorating uniforms and vehicles in Kyle’s team.
Clint Eastwood’s method of directing
Bradley Cooper described Clint Eastwood’s method of directing as very hands-on, and that Eastwood was frequently right beside him while filming the sniping scenes.
Bradley Cooper claimed that the Iraq scenes were shot in Morocco over a period of two six-day weeks. Clint Eastwood wanted to finish filming in that region quickly before the weather became too hot.
Dedicated to the memory of Chris Kyle
Bradley Cooper only spoke to Chris Kyle one time on the phone, just a couple of weeks before Chris Kyle’s tragic death. It was a two minute conversation according to Cooper. Since Kyle’s death, Cooper dedicated eight months to bring Chris back to life and to honor the Kyle family. Cooper did such a great job that the Navy SEALs who had known Kyle and trained Cooper said they felt the presence of Chris when Bradley was around.
RT/Meta Critic Review
Although Cooper succeeds in resembling and sounding like the real Kyle, this isn’t some cheap impersonation trick. Cooper gives maybe the best performance of his career.(Click here to see)
American Sniper has a perspective that’s recognizable from the classic Westerns Eastwood has long been associated with, both as an actor and a director. It’s an existential critique of violent machismo that doubles as a celebration of violence. (Click here to see)
It speaks emotionally to audiences who sense that we lost something in Iraq, yet still want to honor the heroism of those who risked their lives for the cause, whether or not it was ultimately a great one (Click here to see)
What we’re left with is something sobering but searing, muscular but compassionate.(Click here to see)
American Sniper‘s 1080p transfer looks terrific in most every shot. The image can go a touch flat and pasty in its most obviously digital moments, but generally the picture quality yields a fully realized image that captures every nuance with ease. The opening shot of tank treads rolling through war-ravaged debris sets a positive tone, where every sharp edge of rubble and each little textural nuance on the treads and tank body are marvelously reproduced. Kyle’s ball caps, heavy uniform stitching, web gear, and weapon coating wear all help create an intimate portrait of the man, the tools he carries, and the environment in which he fights, but it’s perhaps the transfer’s ability to capture Cooper’s expert performance of Kyle, not only through a thick beard and general build but deeply into the eyes and down into the soul, a subtlety that very well may become lost in lower definition or even lower grade transfers, that make this a great image. Colors are rich and precise with plenty of earthy shades in the Middle East but a nice variety of hues back home in the Kyle home and in other various locations, such as a woodland shooting range or a bar. Black levels are deep with only a mild push that’s too heavy in a couple of shots. A heavy sandstorm later in the film produces minor banding at its thickest, but the image is otherwise free of any unwanted intrusions. This is a robust, healthy picture that serves the movie well.
American Sniper arrives on Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos (core Dolby TrueHD 7.1, sampled for the purpose of this review) sound presentation that excels at every turn. The picture opens with Muslim prayers intersecting with a rumbling tank, the former giving way and drifting into the back channels and the latter presenting firmly in the front with a noticeable heft and appropriate rattle. Battle scenes are remarkably precise and expertly designed. Light gunfire frequently pops throughout backgrounds, but up-close firefights feature both suppressed and unsuppressed weapons hitting hard, the former with a lighter, sharp tone and the latter a heavier, more crackling sensation. Spent brass shell casings fall to the floor in a symphony of realistically placed and perfectly tuned chaos. Explosions hit hard and with a good amount of subwoofer support, but never so hard that the audience is dazed or pulled out of the experience. Lighter ambience defines a number of other scenes, such as light breezes or background chatter, all making full use of the surrounds and the added channels in the middle-back. Stateside, crowd applause at a rodeo files through the back and dialogue echoes nicely through the stage during a church service seen early in the movie. General dialogue is well prioritized and clearly delivered from the center with only one or two brief instances where it’s a challenge to make out underneath surrounding din. This is a reference quality presentation from Warner in every regard.
American Sniper contains two supplements. Inside the Blu-ray case, buyers will find a DVD copy of the film and a voucher for a UV digital copy.
- One Soldier’s Story: The Journey of American Sniper (1080p, 31:04): this piece looks at the filmmakers’ interest in Kyle’s story prior to the book, meetings with Kyle prior to his death, character details and Kyle’s evolution through various scripts, casting, Kyle’s murder during the production’s early stages, the movie’s evolution and Taya Kyle’s contributions, hiring Clint Eastwood, the cast and crew’s time with Taya, shooting locations in the Middle East and California, military authenticity, real life SEAL Kevin Lacz’s contributions, Cooper’s physical and firearm preparations for the role, Cooper’s role as producer, Cooper’s and Miller’s chemistry, and reaction to the finished movie.
- The Making of American Sniper (1080p, 28:35): A piece that, with a different rhythm and through interviews, offers another look at the movie, including cast and crew’s early work on the script and building the character, story themes, Cooper’s performance, the movie’s authenticity, Kyle’s journey, and more. Many of the same core ideas from the first supplement are also reflected here.