The year was 1997. Bill Clinton started his second term as President, Harry Potter's first book was published, the Backstreet Boys were still popular, and Demi Moore shaved her head in G.I. Jane.
Of all the roles that Moore has played over the years the way she threw herself into G.I. Jane got my attention. There are only a few actors in Hollywood today that would put themselves through as much as she was willing to put up with. Then again for the amount of money she was paid to do it I think I'd work out all day and shave my head as well. When looking at the film itself though the effort that Moore put into it unfortunately doesn't save it from mediocrity.
In case you have never seen the picture, G.I. Jane is about the controversial issue of women serving in the military. It tackles the sensitive subject with the subtlety of a 500 pound gorilla and lacks the depth necessary to really hit the issue head on. What we end up with is a movie that is more about entertaining the audience than making a point despite the intentions it presented. The end result left me somewhat disappointed ten years ago and again after watching the Blu-ray release.
By saying I was disappointed with G.I. Jane I don't mean it to sound like I thought it was a bad film. The actors churned out great performances (which saved the film in my opinion) and Ridley Scott did a fine job directing, though it's not one of his best efforts. The problem with Jane is the fact that the script felt like it was created with a pen in one hand and a checklist in the other. From beginning to end the plot is formulaic to a fault and predictable to an even more extensive degree. This all dims the moral of the story and made many twists rather redundant.
Moore plays Lt. Jordan O'Neill, who is a naval officer skilled in topography, though finds herself passed over for promotions. We briefly see O'Neill lash out at her boyfriend who has a position higher than she and she complains that it's all because he's a man. When she's approached by a Senator Lillian DeHaven with an opportunity to be the first woman to take part in SEAL training she naturally jumps at the chance. The only problem with this from the perspective of the script is that her reasoning is never really elaborated on. I almost got the feeling that O'Neill was just jumping through hoops and reacting on anger rather than having a deeply rooted desire within her to do something historic.
Once O'Neill gets to base we see all of the predictable checkmarks play out. The commanding officer that despises her female presence, the doggishly behaving teammates, and of course the overbearing instructor (played perfectly by Viggo Mortensen) all come into play. The story takes on an equally formulaic quality with O'Neill overcoming her own challenges, winning the respect of her peers, and proving that she's better than everyone else. It's safe to say that with this script O'Neill is the character that can do no wrong. That may be entertaining on some levels but in the end I felt it made for a boring and risk-free film.
G.I. Jane stands on the performances of its cast and not the power of the script. The concept of a woman fighting to show her equality among men in the Navy should send a powerful message but when the plot is predictable and takes no risks it kind of dulls the point. Despite the flaws in the film I still enjoyed it though like I already mentioned, I was disappointed. This movie is worth a viewing if you haven't seen it but it's certainly not the be-all and end-all of women's rights.
G.I. Jane is presented on Blu-ray with 1080p resolution and MPEG-4 encoding. Like many other older films, this one receives an upgrade over the original standard definition DVD. The aforementioned release presented the film with a degree of mediocrity though I'm pleased to report that this edition has been cleaned up a little bit.
The picture is noticeably finer and cleaner at many points though there are still problems with the transfer. Most of these seem to be a byproduct of the source material itself though and not part of the mastering process for this release. Shimmer, grain, and dirt are all things that you can expect to see while watching G.I. Jane. The image is softer and hazier than one would hope for as well. This version of the film offers a superior presentation to that of the standard definition DVD did but it's not on par with some of the high-end Blu-ray releases.
While the visuals in G.I. Jane may be somewhat disappointing when it comes to the HD quality department the audio meets expectations. With an English 5.1 Uncompressed (48 kHz/16-bit) soundtrack the film definitely sounds better than the standard definition release. The audio feels cleaner with a fine presence on the soundstage though it can be a little overbearing at times. I found the rear channels and bass were a little overworked by G.I. Jane though the effect wasn't anything too distracting. Other language tracks on the disc include 5.1 Dolby Digital offerings for English and French with a 2.0 stereo selection being available for Spanish. English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The only "extras" on this disc are a handful of trailers. Disappointing to say the least.
As a movie G.I. Jane succeeds in the entertainment department thanks to some fine performances. Unfortunately the fact that the movie is as formulaic as it is leaves things predictable and unexciting for much of the ride. The film is worth watching at least once but this Blu-ray merely deserves a rental thanks to the decent, yet unimpressive, visuals. Fans may want to buy it though the lack of bonus material was disappointing especially in this age of special editions and director's cuts.