DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » High School Boot Camp
High School Boot Camp
New Video // Unrated // November 30, 2004
List Price: $26.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted January 3, 2005 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
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
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The movie

What do you do with teenaged kids who are at risk of failing school or going to jail? One approach is a kind of "tough love" style of education, in which kids are given firm discipline and clear-cut expectations and consequences for their actions. The approach seems to have more merit now that child psychologists are starting to sheepishly admit that all those "raising self-esteem" programs didn't really do a darn bit of good... it seems that real self-esteem comes from doing something worthwhile, not the other way around.

In any case, one such "tough-love" approach is the Eagle Academy in a Florida county, otherwise known as the "high school boot camp" of the documentary's title. It's a five-month residential program in which a group of at-risk high-school-aged kids voluntarily enrolls to soak up some military-style discipline to get themselves on the straight and narrow. While it's not officially associated with any branch of the military (at least not that the documentary shows), the Eagle Academy is run by people who are at least in some way part of the military, and the program as a whole tries to recreate the "boot camp" experience, right down to the drill sergeants screaming into the faces of the recruits.

I don't particularly approve of the gung-ho military style used here -- seeing a six-foot-tall drill sergeant screaming in the face of an eleven-year-old kid with tears running down his face seems a little, well, excessive -- but for viewers who have had some experiences with the kind of kids that the Eagle Academy deals with, there is something to be said for the results. Kids who were frankly little (or big) thugs in the mainstream school are forced to actually listen to adults and obey their instructions; sadly, that's more of an accomplishment than you might think. One scene in High School Boot Camp is particularly telling: the kids have to be explicitly taught how to sit at a table and eat their meals in a normal, orderly fashion.

High School Boot Camp follows one group of "recruits" through the whole process. We get some interviews with kids and their parents before they board the bus to head off to the academy, and we see them in the various Eagle Academy activities all the way to graduation. Interspersed with footage of day-to-day life are interviews with the kids and the various instructors and other people involved with running the academy.

The documentary is reasonably well done for what it is: it paints a picture of a specific, fairly extreme approach to educating at-risk youth. It could have been a lot more, though, and that's why I found myself not all that engaged by the film when push comes to shove. There's no introspection here; the film is focused so closely on what happens from day to day, and what the experience is like for these kids, that it never considers the larger context. What other programs exist like this? Can the same effect be achieved without the trappings of the military? What about at-risk girls? (All the Eagle Academy kids are boys.) Is a five-month program long enough? And, most importantly, does it work? Do these kids shape up for good?

The DVD

Video

High School Boot Camp appears in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which seems to be its original presentation. The image quality is passable for a low-budget documentary; there's not too much obviously wrong with the picture, but it's fairly soft and colors look rather flat and slightly muddy.

Audio

The Dolby 2.0 soundtrack is adequate most of the time, falling below average on some occasions. It handles the dialogue during interviews acceptably; voices are slightly flat but otherwise clear and easy to understand. In footage of the camp as it's operating, though, the soundtrack doesn't cope as well; it tends to sound harsh and tinny, especially when someone is shouting.

Extras

High School Boot Camp offers a respectable set of special features. There's an audio commentary track, and a bit over ten minutes' worth of additional interview footage that didn't make it into the film. The "Where Are They Now?" section is probably the most interesting, as it offers an update on seven of the kids who were featured in the film. There's one text segment but the rest are interview clips, running generally 1-3 minutes each. To a certain extent, this section addresses the "did it work?" question that the film itself avoids... and the answer seems to be "sometimes, sometimes not."

We also get text biographies of the filmmakers and a photo gallery.

Final thoughts

High School Boot Camp has an interesting topic - can military-style discipline help troubled kids get their acts together? - and does a reasonable job of documenting the way that the Eagle Academy runs its "boot camp" for kids. The lack of any sense of larger context, or any attention to interesting questions like whether the program actually works, does sap some of the interest out of the film, though. I'd give this a mild recommended for viewers who are particularly interested in alternative education, and a "rent it" as a general recommendation.

Popular Reviews
1. Halloween: The Complete Collection - Limited Deluxe Edition
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
3. Once Upon a Time in America: Extended Director's
4. Live, Die, Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow
5. Grace Kelly Collection (Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, Magombo, The Country Girl, The Bridges of Toko-Ri, High Society)
6. Ghost in the Shell: 25th Anniversary Edition
7. Macbeth: The Criterion Collection (1971)
8. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo: A Very Boo Halloween
9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre: 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition
10. Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season 1


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use