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Joseph Kosinski
Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges
Writing Credits:
Ken Nolan, Eric Warren Singer

Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who risk everything to protect a town from a historic wildfire.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$6,002,665 on 2577 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1/16X9
English Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
English Audio Descriptive Service
French Audio Descriptive Service
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 134 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 2/6/2018

• Audio Commentary with Director Joseph Kosinski and Actor Josh Brolin
• Deleted Scenes
• “Honoring the Heroes” Featurette
• “Boot Camp” Featurette
• “Becoming the Brotherhood” Featurette
• Music Video
• “Behind the Song” Featurette
• Previews


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Only the Brave (2017)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 1, 2018)

Based on actual events, 2017’s Only the Brave introduces us to a crew called the Granite Mountain Hotshots, elite firefighters who combat wildfires in the US Southwest. As the story starts, Eric Marsh (Josh Brolin) runs a local crew who take care of “mop-up” duty outside Prescott Arizona.

Marsh wants to get his staff up to “Hotshot” status so they can fight fires on the front lines. We follow his efforts to elevate his band along with interpersonal issues connected to Marsh and some of his colleagues.

As I’ve noted in other reviews, sometimes expectations make it difficult to view projects on their objective merits, and I think that impacted my take on Brave. The film received relentlessly positive notices, and these led me to expect a truly great movie.

Which I didn’t get – though I did find a powerful finale. Brave delivers a good movie that I think gets more praise than otherwise would be the case because it brings us such a gut-wrenching ending.

Prior to the last 20 minutes or so, Brave provides pretty standard fare for its genre. Though this all seems reasonably well-done, nothing about it feels strongly above-average. It ticks all the usual boxes for a film like this.

The finale elevates it, though, largely due to the actors. In particular, Jennifer Connelly does excellent work as Marsh’s long-suffering wife Amanda.

Indeed, one scene in which Amanda confronts her husband boasts stellar acting. In addition, when Connelly deals with the events at the story’s ending, she does so with an emotional openness and vulnerability rare in movies.

All of these factors help make Brave a consistently engaging movie, but it lacks much to become special until its ending. There’s really not much there to stand out from similar stories but that conclusion adds stronger than average emotional impact to an otherwise average film.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Only the Brave appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The picture never excelled, but it was adequate for SD-DVD.

Sharpness was usually acceptable. Wider shots tended to be a bit soft, but those instances weren’t extreme, and much of the flick offered decent clarity.

Shimmering and jaggies were minor and edge haloes seemed modest as well. Print flaws were non-existent, as I detected no specks, marks or other blemishes.

The film’s palette usually opted for a mild teal and orange tint. Within that design range, the colors seemed passable, so they weren’t especially strong, but they were okay.

Blacks tended to be somewhat inky, but shadows showed reasonable smoothness. Nothing here did much to impress, but this was a decent presentation.

As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Brave, it worked pretty well. While the soundfield didn’t go nuts throughout the whole movie, it kicked into action well when it mattered.

During quieter scenes, the mix boasted good environmental material, and more active sequences delivered fine immersion and punch. The latter provided the muscle that we expected and used the five speakers in an involving manner.

Overall, audio quality appeared good. Speech came across as distinct and well represented. Music presented good dynamics via the score; the music was tight and full.

Effects came across as accurate and firm, with clean highs and deep bass. The soundtrack fell short of greatness, but it mostly served the film well.

As we head to extras, we get an audio commentary from director Joseph Kosinski and actor Josh Brolin. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters and the source material, sets and locations, stunts, music, editing, cast and performances, and related areas.

Brolin and Kosinski give us a decent track but not one that excels. While they touch on a nice variety of subjects, I don’t think we get great depth. Still, we learn a reasonable amount about the production and the history behind it.

Two Deleted Scenes appear: “Blisters” (1:12) and “Eric Gets a Phone Call” (1:03). These add some minor character tidbits but nothing of real substance.

Three featurettes follow, and these start with the eight-minute, eight-second Honoring the Heroes: The True Stories. It provides notes from Kosinski, Brolin, producers Michael Menchel, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Erik Howsam, creative consultant/Granite Mountain Hotshot Brendan McDonough, Hotshot’s widow Amanda Marsh, retired Prescott Wildland Fire Chief Duane Steinbrink and wife Marvel Steinbrink, writer Eric Warren Singer, technical advisor/Hotshot Patrick McCarty, and actors James Badge Dale, Andie McDowell, Jennifer Connelly, Jeff Bridges and Miles Teller.

With “Heroes”, we get info about the real story behind the movie as well as its path to the screen. Some good nuggets emerge here, but much of the featurette feels a bit fluffy.

With Boot Camp: Becoming a Hotshot, we find an eight-minute, 42-second reel with notes from Teller, Dale, Kosinski, McCarty, McDonough, Howsam, Brolin, production designer Kevin Kavanaugh, producer/actor Thad Luckinbill, and actors Michael McNulty, Taylor Kitsch, Geoff Stults, Kenny Miller, Jake Picking, Matthew Van Wettering and Alex Russell.

As expected, “Camp” looks at the training to prepare the actors for their parts. Like “Heroes”, it presents decent info but it remains superficial most of the time.

Next comes Behind the Brotherhood: The Characters. It goes for seven minutes, 20 seconds and features Brolin, Dale, Kosinski, McDonough, Howsam, Marsh, Connelly, Teller, Singer, McCarty, Duane Steinbrink, Bridges, Menchel, producers Dawn Ostroff, Jeremy Steckler and Molly Smith, Hotshot/actor Brendan Bunch, and actor Scott Foxx. With a view of the movie’s roles, it offers another mix of useful material and puffy sentiment.

After this we find a music video for “Hold the Light” by Dierks Bentley Featuring S. Carey. It provides a mix of lip-synch performance and movie clips to become a forgettable video.

We also go Behind the Song for more info about “Hold the Light”. The two-minute, 42-second piece features Bentley as he chats about the inspiration for the song; Brendan McDonough also tosses out brief comments. We don’t get much substance here.

The disc opens with ads for Crooked House, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, All Saints, Golden Exits, Accident Man and November Criminals. No trailer for Brave appears here.

Although much of Only the Brave feels fairly typical for its genre, the movie gains impact at its conclusion. A tale with a brutal, emotionally wrenching finale, that last act gives it strength. The DVD offers mediocre visuals along with good audio and a few decent supplements. While Brave seems inconsistent, it functions well at its end.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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