In 1965, an American pilot was shot down over Laos while conducting a top-secret bombing mission. The pilot, Dieter Dengler (Bale), was taken to a hellish prison camp inside the impenetrable jungles of Vietnam, where he was tortured and held captive. Realizing the chances of a Rescue at Dawn by the U.S. military as slim to none, Dieter and his fellow captives stage a death-defying escape attempt. Inspired by the true events in the life of Dieter Dengler. (Stacey Pendry)
Special features that are different from those on the DVD include an "Honoring The Brave: Interactive Memorial"; the eight-minute "Preparing For Survival" featurette; seven deleted scenes with optional commentary with Herzo and Hill (there are three on the DVD); "Before The Dawn: Mission Secrets"; and the theatical trailer. The supplements that are the sames as on the DVD include commentary by Director Werner Herzog and Interviewer Norman Hill; the documentary "The Making Of A True Story," which can be watched in its entirety or in the following individual featurettes "Unfinished Business: Telling Dieter's Story" (four mintues), "Strength Of Character" (nine minutes), "War Stories" (24 minutes), "Sound Of War: The Music Of Rescue Dawn" (nine minutes), and "What Would Dieter Do?" (seven minutes); and previews.
With the lush greens of the forest rendered beautifully, the anamorphically enhanced 1.84:1 DVD can deliver a very natural-looking picture. Black levels are deep and shadow delineation is good, helping create an image that has a good sense of depth into the screen. The picture shows good resolution, with fine nuances in textures delivered fairly well. Edge enhancement is minor and generally does not become a distraction while viewing. Shimmering and pixel breakup can also be noticed. The H.264 AVC-encoded Blu-ray Disc doesn't show the level of detail that the best high-definition releases do, with fine textures looking flat and (relatively) poorly defined. Colors are bold and vibrant, and black levels and shadow delineation are rendered well. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack can be dominated by the front three screen channels, with little surround activity at levels that don't come remotely close to that of the front channels. Dialogue often sounds harsh and boxy, but there are times when it has a natural openness. The LFE channel is incorporated well when needed, and deep bass—down below 50 Hz—is delivered at fairly high levels in the full-range channels at times. Music fidelity is good, as is the dynamic range. The core DTS® Digital Surround™ stream from the Blu-ray Disc's DTS-HD Master Audio encoding (we still do not have the capabilities to play back the DTS-HD MA stream) can sound impressive, with good dynamic range and tight bass, but proper care was not always taken with the encoding levels, as clipping distortion can be heard in some of the more intense scenes as dialogue levels are delivered very hot at times. (Danny Richelieu)