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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ike - Countdown to D-Day
Ike - Countdown to D-Day
Columbia/Tri-Star // PG // August 31, 2004
List Price: $24.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Shannon Nutt | posted October 1, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
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P R I N T
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THE MOVIE

Tom Selleck doesn't look like Dwight Eisenhower. Nor does he sound much like Ike. But apparently director Robert Harmon hired Selleck in the lead role of Ike: Countdown To D-Day because the actor has the same personal characteristics as World War II's Supreme Commander and the US's 33rd President. And you know what? Selleck does an admirable job in the part.

Ike isn't about big battles or even the smaller ones…in fact, there's no combat depicted in the movie whatsoever. Instead we get a very claustrophobic film, as we take a look inside the planning for "Operation Overlord" – the event that would become the D-Day invasion.

The movie opens with Eisenhower and Winston Churchill (Ian Mune) having a discussion where it is decided that Ike will become the "Supreme Commander" of the Allies – meaning he'll be responsible for all the military forces of all the countries in the Allied Forces. We get to see Ike's conflict with British General Montgomery (Bruce Phillips) ; his dressing down of General Patton (Gerald McRaney); and the weight of the decisions he'll be forced to make about how…and more importantly…when to launch the invasion.

Because this 89-mintue movie concentrates mainly on the decision making, it doesn't leave a lot of time to find out much about the personal lives of the characters involved. We get hints and peeks as to the man Ike must have been behind his uniform, but the movie never really gets to examine why he is the way he is or what makes him tick.

I'm not sure how much of the script consisted of real words known to be said by Ike and how much of it was scripted, but I couldn't help but feel that much of the dialogue Selleck is asked to say seems theatrical – not the words you would hear from a real person, but carefully written words that seem more appropriate for public speeches rather than the kind of conversation that someone would have spontaneously in their day-to-day life. It makes the film more dramatic, but it also gives it more the appearance of a theatrical performance or stage play than a realistic look at how these people communicated with one another.

I've got to give Selleck credit though – I didn't think he was a very good choice for the role prior to watching the film (even Selleck himself admits on the DVD that he wouldn't have cast himself for the part) and he does an admirable job making the viewer believe he is Dwight Eisenhower.

THE DVD

Video:
The movie was made-for-TV and is presented in anamorphic widescreen at the 1.78:1 ratio. The video has an intentional washed-out look to it and there are a lot of greens, browns and earth colors used – I'm guessing so the film looks "historical" without the director having to make the choice to shoot in black & white. There is also a slight grain to the picture (very subtle), and again, I'm guessing this was intentional and not a problem with the overall DVD transfer.

Audio:
The audio is presented in 5.1 Dolby, but this is a track that doesn't get very many chances to get aggressive. The vast majority of this film is people sitting around talking to each other, so while the audio track is well-done, in never really gets a chance to shine.

Extras:
The nicest extra on this DVD is a Feature Length Commentary track with Tom Selleck, director Robert Harmon and writer/executive producer Lionel Chetwynd. As you can probably guess, listening to Selleck is the big draw here, and the commentary is quite enjoyable.

There's also Ike: The Filmmakers Reflect, an 18-minute featurette which features more comments from Selleck, Harmon and Chetwynd about the making of the movie. This segment is also presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.

Front-loaded onto the DVD and also available from the Main Menu are four Trailers - for The Fog Of War, Secret Window, Big Fish and From Here To Eternity. None of the trailers are anamorphic.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Although it's not a rousing recommendation, I did enjoy Ike: Countdown To D-Day enough to recommend it – particularly for Selleck's strong performance. This would be a pretty good film to show students studying the D-Day invasion, and makes a good companion piece to other D-Day movies, such as Saving Private Ryan.
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