"Company of Heroes" is a film that caught my attention for a number of reasons. I was dubious about it at first, because it is based on a video game franchise. Traditionally, movies based on video games have turned out pretty poorly, as game simply do not translate very well into movies. At the same time, "Company of Heroes" features a number of actors that lend the project some legitimacy; could actually lift it above the average shovelware that most video game movies have turned out to be. Tom Sizemore, JÃƒÂ¼rgen Prochnow and Neal McDonough are all battle-worn faces that instantly put you in the mood for a cool war flick. So, I decided to give "Company of Heroes" a spin when it arrived.
At this point I would ordinarily show a synopsis of the film's plot, talking about the story, but the problem with "Company of Heroes" is that it has no plot. As it turns out, the film is such a misguided attempt that found it hard to watch to the end.
As I said, the movie has no story to speak of. It simply takes a company of World War-II soldiers - each without any depth, or virtues to speak of - and strings together one combat encounter after another. Within the first 45 minutes of the film absolutely nothing happens of relevance. All we get to see is intense shooting and killing and stuff blowing up. The same mindless mentality that the current crop of war shooters have been perpetuating on video game consoles for the past 10 years is presented here on the screen. The movie could just as well serve as a cinematic cut sequence in any of these games. Aside from the complete lack of a coherent story, characters are flat and uninteresting, to the point that you can't even remember individual faces, the bad guys are nothing put pop-ups in a shooting gallery without real motivations or character. In short, the film is a complete disaster.
"Company of Heroes" may look cool at first glimpse, with its massive explosions and slow-motion violence, but that's just it. It is nothing more than eye candy for sophomoric teenagers fueled by nothing but testosterone. It is, in essence, an extension of the mindlessness of the games themselves - and don't get me wrong. I do not knock video games per se. I've been working in the video games industry for over 30 years, after all. It is just, that I feel these twitch games do not offer much in terms of entertainment, and neither does the film.
On the technical side, the film does a pretty good job at presenting itself. The 1080p high definition transfer is clean and clear and offers a good level of definition throughout. Black levels are solid, creating an image with good visual depth.
The audio is everything you would expect. Loud, aggressive and energetic, making constant use of the split surround channels. The frequency response is very wide, with good bass extension, adding plenty of oomph to the explosions. Bullets will zing through your living room from every direction and what little there is of actual dialogue is well integrated.
As extras, you will find a deleted scene on the disc, as well as the featurettes "Fabricating World War II" and In the Trenches." they are brief glimpses behind the scenes of the movie.
For 100 minutes, "Company of Heroes" trundles along, propelled from one fire fight to the next, from one detonation to the next, from one superficial line of dialogue to the next. The most entertaining part of the film was the review quote on the back of the packaging, stating that the film were "A good old-fashioned war film in the tradition of The Dirty Dozen." Sadly, nothing could be further form the truth. The film is neither old-fashioned - it is squarely targeted at today's video gamer mentality - there is nothing good about it either, and it the comparison to The Dirty Dozen is an insult to the great classic.
"Company of Heroes" is entirely irrelevant in the landscape of movie entertainment and you can safely avoid this disaster. Unless, of course, you care to see more mindless explosions because the game somehow didn't give you enough of them.