In The Valley Of Elah

Featured In Issue 130, April 2008

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Violent and disturbing content, language and some sexuality and nudity
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Single Side, Single Layer (HD-15)
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Not Indicated
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Paul Haggis
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Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
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In The Valley Of Elah, a young soldier goes missing from a military base in New Mexico after returning from his tour of duty in Iraq. Hank Deerfield (Jones), a retired military policeman, is suspicious of his son's disappearance and decides to investigate the case. With the help of a local detective, Emily Sanders (Theron), Hank desperately tries to follow the evidence, despite the suspicious coverup efforts of the military establishment. (Stacey Pendry)

Special features include a two-part 43-minute In The Valley Of Elah documentary, a 28-minute In The Valley Of Elah: After Iraq featurette, a 15-minute In The Valley Of Elah: Coming Home featurette, one deleted scene, and up-front previews.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.37:1 DVD shows a washed-up image, with blown-out colors that also look under-saturated when outdoors. Indoors colors can look more natural, but not always. There are also times at night when colors are fairly natural-looking. Fleshtones generally look pallid. Resolution is good, with fine textures that can look sharp and detailed. Black levels are relatively high, but shadow delineation is adequate. Still, there are times when the image can look overly soft. Pixel breakup and compression artifacts can be recognized from time to time, and, while minor, edge enhancement is noticeable. The VC-1-encoded Blu-ray Disc exhibits deep black levels with colors that appear less washed out than the DVD release. Still, the desaturated appearance matches the storytelling well. The inconsistencies in the color scheme are still recognizeable and fleshtones are still pallid. Film grain is more recognizeable in this release than the DVD, although it is not overly distracting, but the image can look overly sharpened with hard, digitized edges. (Danny Richelieu)

The Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack can be limited, with the mix collapsing to the center channel often, especially when indoors. Dialogue fidelity is good, but a shuffling distortion can be heard from time to time. Articulation is good, but not as pinpoint accurate as on the better releases. The surround channels can be used nicely to deliver atmospheric effects, but generally they are only used as an extension of the music, which is mixed nicely. The Blu-ray Disc's lossless Dolby TrueHD encoding provides a noticeable improvement in overall fidelity over the Dolby Digital encoding that is also included on the disc, with better fluidity and articulation in the dialogue. Still, dialogue can sound unnaturally forward, and subtle shuffling distortion can still be heard. (Danny Richelieu)