It's easy to be intrigued by 'Soldier' when you hear that the writer also wrote 'Blade Runner'. Although, it's also pretty easy to become disinterested in the movie when you hear that its director made 'Mortal Kombat' and 'AVP: Alien vs. Predator'. The cheesy failure of 'Soldier' lies directly at the feet of Paul W.S. Anderson. It's so campy and silly that it falls right in line with other Anderson movies. A script from David Webb Peoples ('Unforgiven' and '12 Monkeys') couldn't even save this movie as soon as Anderson got his corny mitts on it.
Todd 3465 (Kurt Russell) has been groomed to become the perfect soldier. A soldier without feeling, programmed to do nothing but kill efficiently. From babies these soldiers were specifically trained to kill and feel no remorse or emotion. It is war after all. Emotions make you weak and cloud your vision. Todd and his killing cohorts go through battle after battle, laying waste to everyone and everything in their way. The time is the not-too-distant future of Earth, and we're apparently at war almost every second of the day (which really isn't a new notion for some areas of the globe).
Then, like all technology – make no mistake these soldiers are products of technology, anything that makes them human has all but been drained away – they become outdated. A newer, stronger, faster, meaner breed of engineered humans has emerged led by Jason Issacs. Issacs, who plays a much cornier version of the villain he played in 'The Patriot' is such a stereotypical villain that he even has the pencil-thin mustache. Although, the only thing that's missing is it being long enough for him to twist in his fingers while he laughs maniacally.
After Todd fails a test against the newer breed of soldiers he's discarded. Thought dead, the army wastes no time throwing him on a space garbage truck headed for the nearest landfill planet. There Todd befriends the local refugees who have been hiding out in the trash heaps for years now.
'Soldier' then plays out like so many "new guy moves into town and saves the townspeople" movies before it. Of course the folks of Garbage Land welcome him in with open arms where he subsequently makes them uneasy about that very decision. You can actually tell that there's a lot bubbling under the surface of 'Soldier'. How does one who's been taught to kill from such a young age assimilate back into society? Can it happen? Is it possible? If you want a movie that attempts to answer those very questions in a more interesting way than 'Soldier' does then check out 'Hanna' when it comes out in a month or two.
'Soldier' is just far too campy for its own good. The second Gary Busey shows up as an nutty Army general you know it's all downhill from there.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Soldier' comes to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. and has been given a standard Blu-ray case to be packaged in. The movie has been pressed onto a 25GB Blu-ray disc and is purported to be a region free release.
For the most part I was actually really impressed with Warner's clean and detailed 1080p transfer of 'Soldier'. From the beginning of the movie, where the camera pans over the selected babies, you can tell that you're in for a catalogue title experience that will be heavy on fine detail throughout.
Close ups reveal copious amounts of facial details, from Todd's grizzled scars to the grubby dirty look of the garbage planet inhabitants. There are times, however, that mid-range photography looks awfully smeary. Faces and their details become waxy and obscured by some very noticeable DNR. It isn't present all the time, but when it's there it's very noticeable.
Colors are nicely rendered. Oranges, reds, and yellows – from the numerous explosions – burn nice and hot without becoming overwhelming. Blacks are sufficiently deep leading to well delineated shadows that help reveal fine detail even in the movie's darker scenes. Softer shots are common, especially when green screen and other digital effects are inserted into the movie. Artifacts are nowhere to be found though. I was surprised by the overall cleanliness of the transfer. Errant dust and grime pops up on very seldom occasions. Fans of the movie should be very happy with the way this one turned out.
Boom, bang, zip, zoom, pow! That's about the extent of 'Soldier's rock'em sock'em, beat-the-living-daylights-out-of-you soundtrack. The problem comes with the mix's prioritization of sound effects versus dialogue.
Sound effects are loud, unnerving and at times overwhelming. While on the other hand dialogue is far too soft. Lines of dialogue routinely get lost in the rampant action going on around them. There will be a scene where machine gun fire rattles across the front of the sound field at an almost ear-splitting level, and then the next scene is a subtle talkative scene that's hardly audible.
Yes, the action scenes will rock your subwoofer and the surrounding speakers, but the mix really isn't up to par when it comes to creating a well-rounded soundtrack that gives as much care to dialogue driven scenes as it does to explosions.
'Soldier' had potential, but whatever promise was there it was squandered by Paul W.S. Anderson's inability to make uncheesy movies. Some people may like to revisit 'Soldier' once in a while just to giggle, but other than its unintentional comedy, there's nothing here that would suggest you need to pick this up as soon as possible. The video is decent, but the audio isn't well rounded. I'd say skipping over this is the best possible solution, but if you're looking forward to it then a rental should suffice. That or you'll probably find it in the bargain bin in a few months.