- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French DTS Digital Surround 2.0, Spanish DTS Digital Surround 1.0
- Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: PG-13
- Run Time: 106 Mins
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 17, 2012
- List Price: $14.98
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Arriving just in time for Black History Month is HBO’s original film, The Tuskegee Airmen, based on the true story of the first Black squadron of pilots in the Air Force allowed to see combat during World War II. With Hitler’s Nazi army looking like they would win the war, the U.S. Military greenlit what would become known as the “Tuskegee Experiment,” wherein many highly-educated Black men would be enlisted and trained as pilots.
Facing scrutiny, humiliating discrimination and prejudice from their White commanding officers, the military establishment, and political opposition, the cadets would have to make their way through the grueling training only to be shunned by the military, given shoddy planes to fly and disregarded as unreliable. They would have to prove themselves on the battlefield, if they could get an opportunity to fight for the very country that seemingly didn’t want them.
That opportunity would come, and eventually the men of what would become the 332nd Fighter Group would become one of the most honored and respected squadrons in the Air Force.
The Tuskegee Airmen, a story long untold, is led by an all-star cast including Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding, jr. and Malcolm-Jamal Warner.
Something looks peculiar about Tuskegee Airmen from the very opening scene, like the colors are off and grain looks weird. This never really lets up, resulting in an odd presentation for this AVC/MPEG-4 encodement. Things are rather soft and dull throughout without very strong contrast, often waxy looking flesh tones as well. It doesn’t help that it is a mid-level bitrate squeezed onto a BD-25, I suppose, but I have seen films look much better than this in the same amount of space and Tuskegee is only 16-years-old, after all.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix is mildly ambient, becoming most lively during the flight sequences where the rumble of plane engines can be heard all through the soundfield. For the most part, however, there’s not much to this mix and low frequencies are basically absent. There isn’t much discrete information ether. At least dialogue is reasonably full and clean.
While there are no on-disc extras in this set, the disc comes packaged in a deluxe Blu-ray Book which features 22-pages of commemorative photos including images of the real-life heroes portrayed in the film as well as production stills of the actors on set who portray them. There is also a brief introduction telling the story of the “Tuskegee Experiment” and the accomplishments of these brave pilots.
The Definitive Word
A bit sentimental and predictable in its treatment of the subject matter, but well worth watching nonetheless, The Tuskegee Airmen is a story for the ages with a strong cast and good production values. Although this digitally remastered release comes nicely packaged, the actual video transfer is somewhat disappointing.
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