Nicolas Cage had only five other films under his belt when he was cast along with Mathew Modine in Alan Parker's 'Birdy' but you can see his growing skill as an actor in every scene. Cage and Modine play childhood friends whom, after being drafted to fight in Vietnam, each experience devastating psychological repercussions. Cage looses his focus and begins to question the direction his life has taken while Modine withdraws from life altogether into a semi catatonic state. Each man needs the other to achieve personal redemption, as if they're really aspects of a single personality. Modine's aviation obsessed Birdy is especially compelling and well rendered.
Birdy is structured as a series of flash backs and moody set pieces. Alan Parker (The Wall, Midnight Express, The Commitments) does a nice job keeping the convoluted narrative clear in viewers minds and moves the decidedly talky film forward at a reasonable rate. Over all it's a very satisfying movie. The only problem I had with it came in the last minute. I won't spoil it for you but suffice it to say that the director seems to have lost a little restraint and chosen to go with a fairly cheap blow rather than let the story resolve itself in a statelier manner.
Birdy sports a nice anamorphic transfer that shows no signs of compression artifacts or edge enhancement effects. The colors are a touch muted but black levels and shadow detail are both exemplary. The film elements themselves are fairly clean with only the rarest instances of dirt, scratches and jitter.
The sound track is Dolby 2.0 surround and seems fairly middle of the road. Birdy is a soft and contemplative film with a beautiful score by Peter Gabriel but the audio tracks do only a passable job with the material. The dynamic range seems a little limited and the dialogue, though easily understandable, has a harsh edge to it in places.
One thing that bothers me about DVD is the fact that some studios pile trailers for other films onto the discs and want to call them extras. Trailers are interesting to watch but they're really just big screen ads. The effort expended placing trailers on discs like this one could have been spent more productively on film specific ancillary content. Birdy offers trailers for 8mm, Red Rock West, It Could Happen to You, Guarding Tess, Midnight Express and The Road To Wellville. Of course there's also the original theatrical trailer for Birdy itself. Other extras include basic talent files, a printed booklet with production notes and a pan and scan version of the film on side two of the disc.
Birdy didn't make a huge impression on me but I did enjoy watching it. If you're a Cage or Modine fan you'll want to at least see it. If you're into the films of Alan Parker you'll want Birdy in your collection. All others should probably rent first and buy based on their enjoyment of the film.