'A Marine Story' is a heavy-handed, not-so-subtle, public service announcement about how awful the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military is (was). This movie and its message run full-force into you like a soapbox driving a humvee. I've got nothing against going after "don't ask, don't tell," but the way it's done here is just laughable.
Alexandra Everett (Dreya Weber) has just been ousted from her role in the military, because of some "improper" lesbian conduct. She insists she isn't a lesbian, but her direct supervisor can't help her. See, even he thinks the policy is stupid. His dialogue is written with such a ham-fisted way that it comes across as preachy and insincere. It's just one of the many examples of characters in here that are there solely to espouse how much the filmmakers hate this armed forces policy.
Alexandra travels back to her hometown, now that she's no longer a Marine. Some of you who do the P90X workout routine will recognize Dreya Weber as one of the women who makes frequent appearances on the workouts. Let's just say that she's better suited for workout videos with Tony Horton.
She meets up with the town's standard issue stereotypes in a bar. A bunch of guys who think guys are so much better than girls. They spout stilted dialogue that rolls off their tongues with the finesse of bricks hitting the floor. You know what will settle this debate once and for all? Arm wrestling! So, yes in their infinite wisdom they challenge Alexandra to an arm wrestling match. Of course they lose. She's buff.
Meanwhile, Alexandra gets the responsibility of getting one of the town's screw ups, a girl named Saffron (Paris Pickard), ready for boot camp. The girl has been in and out of trouble, and now the judge has given her one last chance. Go into the military or face jail time. Her dialogue consists of calling Alexandra a "Bitch," and that's about it.
The movie somehow devolves even further as a local meth-head is hell-bent on outing Alexandra as a lesbian. Of course, everyone in town is just as inconsiderate and as close-minded as their stereotypes suggest. Once her secret is out people turn and run. It would be sad if it wasn't so laughably set up. The predictability is astounding. You know exactly what each of the characters are going to do, because you the filmmakers have already made clear how much they think the world is stacked against them.
'A Marine Story' becomes extremely preachy, to the point that it's simply unbearable. There's no problem taking on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but do it with some subtlety. Don't simply stand over us with a giant sign that reads: "Don't ask, don't tell = very, very bad" expect us to be entertained and educated.
The characters are beyond flat, and the acting is downright abysmal at times. It's an indie movie, made on a budget of next to nothing, so I'm not expecting much in the way of huge production values. Still, the characters are the central figure in any story and here the focus on "don't ask, don't tell" completely overshadows the movie's characters. Not that they were interesting in the first place, but maybe if they didn't spend so much time pounding the message home they could have worked harder on creating some well-rounded characters.
'A Marine Story' actually looks pretty good on Blu-ray.
The 1080p picture is often tinged with an orange filter to make everything look that much more dramatic, but overall it isn't all that bad to look at. There's some first-rate detail here, especially during the sun-drenched daytime scenes. Facial details in fully lit situations, are revealing to say the least. When the lights get turned down however, details, people, and edges get lost in a sea of undefined flat blackness. When the lights are on the contrast, colors, and detail appear at the top of their game. The movie's easy on the eyes during those times. Blacks are simply crushing and lack any sort of depth. Some random noise crops up in the darker areas. Artifacting, more or less, stays away. I did notice some aliasing/shimmering on car grills and the like.
Overall, this is a decent presentation
'A Marine Story' limps onto Blu-ray with a lossy 5.1 Dolby Digital mix.
Right from the outset you can tell this mix isn't going to cut it. Voices are all over the place. Sometimes they're mixed way too loudly, other times lower tones are lost. The entire mix seems devoid of any semblance of ambient noise. LFE is hollow whenever it's called upon, like during the scenes in the local bar where music is playing in the background.
This is a very uninspired, lossy audio presentation.
If 'A Marine Story' weren't so dreadfully acted and heavy-handed in its message it would be a decent enough film. Sadly, those two aspects drag everything down so far that it's beyond saving. The audio and video presentations are about on par with a low-budget production like this, but I was pleasantly surprised at most of the video's quality. It comes complete with the standard special features, but if you're a fan of the movie, then the commentary is actually a fun listen. I would say rent it if you're interested.