Most of you probably know something about the incredibly devastating story of Daniel Pearl. An American journalist looking into possible Al-Qaeda links in Pakistan, he was kidnapped by Pakistani extremists for his supposed CIA connections. A Mighty Heart is one of those movies that even though you already know the outcome and are prepared for the ending, you are continually drawn in and truly feel for the characters.
After Danny (Dan Futterman) doesn't come home after an interview he has set up, his pregnant wife Mariane (Angelina Jolie) immediately knows that something is wrong. Over the next few days the local police, diplomats, the Justice Department, and the F.B.I. step in to help. A journalist herself, Mariane uses all her contacts and does everything imaginable to locate the people Danny was meeting with, to hopefully find the correct person to lead them to his location. Going through emails, bad phone numbers, and numerous articles, Mariane ultimately has to wait endless hours to hear any news, good or bad. Soon they are able to confirm that Danny Pearl has been kidnapped, in what seems to be a "staged" meeting. Danny is now in the hands of fundamentalist militiamen who want to make example of him. Confused as being a C.I.A. operative and not a journalist, the kidnappers finally make contact with Mariane. With demands that no one can meet, Mariane and everyone else tries desperately to trace Danny's trail, in hopes of bringing him back home. Mariane remains dedicated to helping in anyway possible and resilient despite the increasing chances of defeat.
Sadly, we all know the ending of this life changing event, and although the end is not pleasant, we really get to see the love that Mariane and Danny Pearl shared. Yes, A Mighty Heart is about the story of Danny Pearl and the great man that he was. But it is not just about him, it is about his amazing wife who didn't stop believing, loving, and doing everything imaginable to get her husband back.
Angelina Jolie did one heck of a job as Mariane Pearl and brought her amazing real-life dedication to the screen. The other actors also did a very good job making everything seem more like a documentary. You can definitely see that the film's purpose was not to be fancy with the best acting ever; it was to capture the horror that a family went through, as well as show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even though a family can be ripped apart, that love will never end and we can keep on living.
I usually hate movies that I already know the ending to. A lot of times I feel as if I am watching the inevitable and there is nothing to look forward to. This is definitely not the case here...as I watched I felt as if I had been placed into the lives of the Pearls, and I was able to watch their love for each other grow even as they were apart. It is an awful but beautiful story, that should be watched and learned from.
With a 1080p VC-1 Codec, we unfortunately get an average transfer. My biggest gripe is with the grain...there is a lot of it, and even if that is what they were going for with a "documentary" style, it was very inconsistent. There would be times of tons of grain, and then it would clear up the next moment and look great. This shouldn't happen if they were going for a particular style...it should be consistent throughout. Another down side was the contrast. At times it was definitely too high and would cause loss of detail. Outside scenes are better, where the colors pop, the blacks are good, and the skin tones are nice. Even though the blacks are good, when we are in darker areas, detail is definitely lost as the blacks tend to take over.
Unfortunately this transfer just doesn't do the trick, there are scenes that look good, even, and have great colors, but there is so much else getting in the way so that it ends up just being okay overall.
With this Dolby Digital 5.1 track we get an above average track, that has good surrounds and good dialogue. A Mighty Heart is filled with dialogue and thankfully it is very even throughout the length of the film. I never once had to turn up my receiver as I tried to listen to what they were saying. The surrounds actually are filled almost throughout the film with subtle noises that keep us engaged. Car horns resonate through, people chattering, yelling, and especially the busy streets come alive in the surrounds. In the end, there is nothing to call home about and get excited, but it is definitely better then average, and makes for an easy listen.
My player tells me that I am watching the extras in 1080p, but it doesn't look it...it seems more like 480i/p.
A Journey of Passion: The Making of A Mighty Heart: This is a great feature that dives into the lives of Danny & Mariane. Cast and crew talk about the process, the families, and how they created an incredibly difficult film, while treading softly as they worked with the real-life families involved. Definitely worth a watch for fans of the film.
Public Service Announcement: Pearl Foundation with Christiane Amanpour: This can be watched here, during the special features, or at the beginning of the film you will be prompted and you can choose to watch it there. This intro is okay, it's good to hear about the Pearl Foundation.
Committee to Protect Journalists: This is a good feature, that chats about the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and their roles. We learn about the history of CPJ and what they do currently.
A Mighty Heart is a tough film to watch. It is beautifully made and intends to respect the Pearl family while still showing an awful event, but a powerful bond between Danny and Mariane. It is definitely worth a watch, even if the video isn't perfect. I still can Recommend this one because it is such an incredible film.