Zero Dark Thirty Review and Blu-ray Features
Zero Dark Thirty
19 Dec 2012
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Portraying CIA Chief
James Gandolfini, who portrays former CIA head Leon Panetta, sent a note to Panetta before the film came out: “I’m very sorry about everything. I apologize. You’re like my father, so you’ll find something to be angry about, but please let me know.” For months, silence. Then, as the film was in the middle of awards season in early January, screenwriter Mark Boal told Gandolfini, “Leon Panetta would like your phone number because he doesn’t know how to get in touch with you.” The actor was surprised. “He’s the head of the CIA! He can’t find me? Come on, really?!
Length of Climatic Sequence
The climactic sequence devoted to the raid on Osama’s compound runs about 25 minutes, only a few minutes less than the real-life SEALs assault.
The bizarre, four-lens night vision goggles worn by SEAL Team Six are in fact, authentic. They are cutting-edge GPNVG-18 (Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles) manufactured by L-3 Warrior Systems. The extra lenses provide more peripheral vision to the operator.
Meaning of Zero Dark Thirty
“Zero Dark Thirty” is not a military terms that means 12:30 AM. Zero Dark is not midnight. It simply refers to an early/late time of the day (Depending on your perspective) often referred to in a negative light. It’s similar to the phrase, “Beer-thirty.”
Preparation and Execution of the raid (Differences with the books)
Several important factors in the preparation and execution of the raid, as detailed in the book “No Easy Day”, were glossed over or not mentioned in this film. These include, specifically, 1) the debate over whether to bomb the compound or conduct a special forces raid, 2) the construction of a complete training mockup of the compound in North Carolina and repeated drills using the same SEAL teams and helicopters as on the eventual raid, and 3) the presence of backup Black Hawks at a forward staging area during the mission, which proved to be vital to recovering the team after the crash of the stealth Black Hawk during the initial insertion. It is assumed these were left out for dramatic purposes.
Books used for Research by main character
Of the many books she researched in preparation for her role as CIA operative Maya,Jessica Chastain found two of particular interest, namely, “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” by Lawrence Wright and “‘Osama Bin Laden'” by Michael Scheuer.
Why weren’t the occupants of the house not more alarmed at the approach of the helicopters?
Because the house was less than a mile from the Pakistani military academy, Pakistan’s equivalent of Sandhurst/West Point. Therefore military helicopter flights overhead were not necessarily unusual, they could have put it down to an army night exercise.
How does the movie end?
After blowing up the downed helicopter, the SEALs fly bin Laden’s body to the U.S. operating base in Afghanistan. While the SEALs are unloading and categorizing the tapes, hard drives, and other intelligence materials that they seized from the compound, Maya is led to the body bag. She unzips it, takes a long, hard look at the face, and confirms that it belongs to bin Laden. She then boards a transport plane where she is told to sit anywhere because hers is the only name on the manifest. ‘You must be pretty important. Where do you want to go?’ the pilot asks, but Maya doesn’t reply. In the final scene, she leans her head back against the wall and starts to cry.
Why did the SEAL team destroy the downed chopper?
It’s standard practice to destroy remaining military equipment that can’t be salvaged. They do this to mainly prevent enemies from salvaging parts to use against them or others or stealing any advanced technology. Thermite or plastic explosives are commonly used.
RT/Meta Critic Review
A historical timeline, a pulsating thriller, a moving character study and a true-life violent revenge story, all in one, told in a sweating, oppressive, strangling fashion.(Click here to see)
Zero Dark Thirty‘s Blu-ray presentation is about as faultless as the movie. The HD video photography is nothing short of striking; while it doesn’t quite achieve the natural organic look of film, the source does capture, and the Blu-ray presents, a supremely well defined visual experience that’s as good as any digital movie out there. The transfer reveals very crisp details; every square inch of the frame is perfectly defined, whether under bright desert sun or through night vision goggles. Complex aerial city shots are handled just as well as intimate close-ups; the former reveals every texture sharply and with incredible ease, the latter showing details as fine — finer, maybe — than the naked eye might perceive in real life. Every worn piece of concrete, each grain of sand, strand of clothing, bead of sweat, and drop of blood are revealed with no effort and the utmost clarity. Colors are equally impressive. The palette is naturally vibrant, again under all lighting conditions. No hue is betrayed by the transfer, none appear washed out or overly processed; each is beautifully displayed in every frame. Black levels are true but still revealing of critical information in the nighttime raid at film’s end. Flesh tones are never problematic. Very light banding — an inconsequential amount — may be seen in one or two moments, but it’s not quite enough to knock an otherwise perfect transfer from Sony.
Zero Dark Thirty‘s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is one of the finest available on Blu-ray. This is a track of incredible nuance, heavy bass, and precision elements alike, all played as part of a very full and convincing stage that effortlessly brings the picture’s Oscar-winning sound to life. Nearly every scene is of reference grade, whether for more intensive sounds or more subtly crucial elements that truly define an atmosphere or a moment beyond the basics. The film begins with a frightening but sonically filling and perfectly defined string of communication sound bytes that literally flood the soundstage with chatter from every direction. Equally horrific are the sounds of the torture chamber, whether its creaking pulleys or punishing Metal music that pull the listener into the room, to almost experience firsthand the interrogation. Dialogue reverberates beautifully here, as it does in a few other points throughout the movie, showing an awareness of environment and absolute sound detail no matter the circumstance. Even minor exterior ambience and very subtle atmospherics — light winds, rain and thunder, birds, insects, people rustling papers or shifting their weight in a chair — are perfectly implemented where applicable. Gunfire sounds wonderfully authentic; AK fire during the Khobar Towers attack punishes listeners with the heavy, precise, and terrifying bursts, while suppressed M4 fire at the end plays with faultless accuracy. The track’s low end is a match for the rest; a rumbling jet engine, the heavy spinning of helicopter rotors and the rattle heard inside the machine, or a few hefty explosions in which the sheer power is dotted by scattered debris tossed into every square inch of the listening area all showcase the importance of a natural low end to this, and any, film experience. Dialogue is centered and clear. This track does it all; faultless clarity, endlessly natural surround support, and aggressive but balanced bass are all major aspects perfectly blended together into what is one of the top soundtracks available on Blu-ray.
Zero Dark Thirty contains only four short featurettes. Hopefully, a more thorough special edition will one day be released.
- No Small Feat (HD, 3:51): Cast and crew briefly discuss the picture’s background, the story, Bigelow’s work, and the film’s cast.
- The Compound (HD, 9:25): A detailed look at recreating the Abbottabad compound and shooting the assault sequence.
- Geared Up (HD, 7:03): Guaranteeing the authenticity of the Navy SEALs portrayed in the film.
- Targeting Jessica Chastain (HD, 5:19): A closer look the actress’ work in the film and the character she plays.
- DVD Copy.
- UV Digital Copy