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Case Number 26735: Small Claims Court

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Battle Ground (2013)

Lionsgate // 2013 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 27th, 2013

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson's personal battle ground is at the China buffet. If someone gets in the way of his chicken fingers, they will pay.

The Charge

Survivors will become heroes.

The Case

I feel like every other week a World War II movie crosses my threshold, so it's something of a welcome change of pace to have call-out to World War I (for my money, a distinctively brutal and ruthless slice of 20th century atrocity). Trench warfare, which dominated the WWI combat is highlighted in Battle Ground and the potential for tension and drama and jarring action is there: does it deliver? Sort of I guess, but Battle Ground is destined for the bargain bin. It is, however, a worthy effort on what was surely a shoestring budget.

The story: in the teeth of the front, as soldiers kill and bleed out for yards of territory at a time, a full-on Allied assault goes backwards and after the gunfire and mortar smoke, a couple of soldiers find themselves stranded in "no-man's land," between the trenches, in the pitch black. Their mission is to survive the night, while bringing their maimed friend back over the trench wall.

That's the set-up. It's clean, simple and personal, which is the right approach for this type of movie. You'll get an occasionally break from the battlefield with some light melodrama stateside, but the guts of Battle Ground, well, lie on the battle ground.

While there are some bombastic sequences, don't expect a full-blown war flick. This is an intimate experience, more about the soldiers and their drive to rescue their friend. The suspense is thick, thanks to the circumstances, but when the bombs drop, they come from unseen forces. Saving Private Ryan this is not.

If that strikes your fancy, then consider this a recommendation. Decent acting, solid pacing and a war setting that gets far too little exposure in the moviemaking world offers just enough points in the win column to compensate for the terribly generic title.

The DVD: 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, commentary from directors Johan Earl and Adrian Powers and a making-of featurette.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (CC)
• Spanish
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Drama
• Foreign
• War

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Digital Copy


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