Judge David Johnson was part of the Company of Zeroes. They sucked.
Company of Heroes, based off the popular video game, is a bittersweet monument—a relic of a shuttered studio and the end of a publisher, yet also a surprisingly not-terrible war movie. THQ is the publisher, a mid-level video game company that couldn't cut it and was forced to close up shop, auctioning off its projects and IPs and vanishing into the magic cornfields where Acclaim and Tengen dwell. Yet their legacy lives on in this film, toting the title of the bestselling strategy game but starring a handful of recognizable faces exchanging gunfire with each other.
Company of Heroes follows a band of American soldiers caught neck-deep in the Battle of the Bulge and itching to get out. The Nazis are all but smashed and their missions as of late have been of the escort and mop-up variety. Their latest charge has them doing a routine delivery, which almost immediately goes straight to hell. Lots of explosions and Germans and tanks and gunfire later, our heroic company finds itself behind enemy lines, lost and sort of screwed. Their wandering ultimately brings them into contact with a frightening reality: the Nazis have been developing a super-weapon, a bomb with the capability of wiping out entire towns. Suddenly, their mission to get back home becomes a save-the-world type adventure and, lucky for them, they have Tom Sizemore.
And Sizemore is gets top billing for a reason: he's pretty much the only familiar face that logs in more than 10 minutes of screen. Fellow famous faces Vinnie Jones and Neal McDonough, while snagging prime real estate on the disc case, aren't in this movie a whole lot. No matter; the no-names do a good enough job and the real point of all of this is the gonzo World War II action, of which it delivers a good amount in above-average fashion.
Actually, you know, I'm not going to qualify my accolades. Company of Heroes is legit entertainment, a war flick that delivers some genuinely thrilling moments. Director Don Michael Paul, who recently set the Guinness World Record for "war movie filmmaker with most consecutive first names" shoots his action in a manner conducive to comfortable viewing, e.g. his footage doesn't seem to come from strapping a camera to mongoose.
We're not ten minutes into this when the first war scene drops, pitting the heroes against a Nazi armored division, and the steady aim plus the diligent choreography added up to a rousing opener. From then on the action scenes vary, from a large-scale bombing run to a stealth assault on a train depot; quality fluctuates a bit, but I couldn't help thinking this stuff was far better that it should have been.
The big demerit? The budget CGI gets pretty shifty, especially during that aforementioned bombing run. During most of the action sequences, the computer-generated gunfire and bomb blasts can be overlooked thanks to the snappy editing and surprisingly effective soundtrack. But when the scenes rely entirely on the old C64 crunching numbers (e.g., massive bombers dropping payloads), suddenly Company of Heroes becomes a whole lot less involving.
Still—it's a better movie that I expected it to be: decent if out-there plotline, actors who look like they're actually more than half-assing it, and a bonanza of action. I have no clue how faithful it is to its interactive counterpart, but Company of Heroes serves up a good time filled with Nazi-smiting.
The Blu-ray: a slick 1.78:1, 1080p video presentation that often betrays the shoddy CGI work thanks to its clarity, an active, enveloping 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, one deleted scene, and a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Not Guilty. Bulge-a-riffic!
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