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First Squad: The Moment of Truth Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English, Russian, Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English and Russian Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating:
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run Time: 75 Mins.
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • List Price: $29.99

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Purchase First Squad: The Moment of Truth on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:2/5]

First Squad: Moment of Truth seemed like an interesting premise for an anime film from the outside. A joint Japanese/Russian production between Japan’s Studio 4°C (the studio responsible for The Animatrix and Tekkon Kinkreet) and Russian authors Molot Entertainment, the film is set in the early days of World War II on the Eastern front as the Russians battle the Nazi invasion of their homeland. Lest anyone should forget, Japan and Russia were enemies before and during World War II, so a cross-cultural collaboration of this sort has many historical implications.

The story is focused on a group of specially gifted Russian teens who are brought together in a special unit to fight the Nazis, in particular, Nadya, a psychic, on whom all hope depends. They must stop a Nazi SS officer officer from raising an army of undead soldiers from the 12th-century Order of the Sacred Cross using a powerful artifact.

While this plot, on the surface, sounds intriguing, the “long version” of the film is marred by a misguided live-action “mockumentary” that is interspersed throughout, stopping the flow of the story. It is jarring and completely unnecessary. Filled with so-called experts and veterans who purport to comment on the actual events of World War II and the happenings of the film.

Sadly, even in the shortened version, First Squad doesn’t hold up. There are no compelling characters and a flat story arc. Nadya seems to be driven by the circumstances around her, so she is not a compelling protagonist.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The production of First Squad is purposely gritty with a rather muted color palette straight through. One assumes this is to evoke the World War II-era that the film is set in. While it works to set a mood and a feel, it doesn’t exactly make for the greatest looking imagery, especially all the intentionally added, digitally manipulated grain. With that being said, there aren’t any faults noticeable in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer that can be directly attributed to the encodement.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtracks are aggressive and rather dynamic. I chose to go with the Russian language track on the extended version of the film as the reference for this review. Lows are big and hefty, ambience is lush and dialogue is full and clean. The issue I had with the sound, however, was that highs seemed to be far too tweaked for my comfort, which resulted in a bit of fatigue at higher volume playback over an extended period.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

Unless you’re willing to count the fact that both the short and long versions of the film are included in this disc, there are no supplements.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

A film with great promise turns out to be a disappointment in First Squad: The Moment of Truth. What could have been so much better ends up being complete style over substance, and the style isn’t much worth talking about. Skip it.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005WMQ64K[/amazon-product]

Purchase First Squad: The Moment of Truth on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Film
[Rating:2/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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