Tears of the Sun:(Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 6.7.2005)
Director's Extended Cut
Antoine Fuqua's Tears of the Sun examines a fictional civil war in Nigeria. Rebel Muslim forces stage a successful military coup against the democratically elected President and immediately begin a massive capmpaign to rid Nigeria of all Christians. Bruce Willis plays Lieutentant Waters, a seasoned Navy SEAL ordered to retrieve an American doctor (Monica Bellucci, horribly miscast) from a Christian hospital in the jungles of Nigeria.
But the good doctor refuses to leave without her patients who will be slaughtered if the rebel forces find them. Eventually, Willis and his men agree to lead a group of about 50 refugees by foot to the safety of neighboring Cameroon. It's a treacherous journey through the jungles of Nigeria, made extremely tense by the rebel forces who are closing in fast.
Tears of the Sun does a good job of bringing our attention to (or exploiting?) tribal warfare, ethnic cleansing, and other atrocities plaguing Africa. The film seems to be in favour of US intervention and it was released in 2003, right as the US was on the verge of of invading Iraq. I can't help but wonder if the filmmakers were using Africa to make some sort of statement about the Middle East? In spite of the film's confused/irrelevant (lack of) political perspective, there are a few things to admire here, including solid camera work by Mauro Fiore and the dark, inspired score by Hans Zimmer and collaborators.
The anamorphic widescreen transfer is very good -- night scenes look especially sharp -- and the 5.1 Dolby sound is fine. Extras aren't particularly noteworthy. For resourceful viewers planning their own invasion of Africa, Sony includes an Interactive Map of Nigeria. We also get a useless featurette, "Journey to Safety: Making of Tears of the Sun," in which everyone associated with the movie tells us how brilliant they are. A second featurette, "Voices of Africa," features eight African refugees who narrowly escaped death, telling their stories. Unfortunately, it's difficult to decipher their heavy accents (a subtitle option would have been helpful).
Finally, we get over 24 minutes of "never-before-seen footage" inserted into the movie. The thing about this footage is, we have seen it before. These are the deleted scenes from the previous Tears of the Sun DVD. In fact, all of these features are on the previous DVD and, whereas that disc had 2 commentaries, this not-particularly-special-edition has none. Which begs the question: why did Sony even bother with this second edition?
From what I can tell, this new disc is completely useless. It omits the best features of the previous disc and doesn't include anything new! To summarize then, first edition good, second edition bad. Unless you have some sort of freakish obsession with Tears of the Sun, please ignore this unusually shameless case of studio double-dipping. -- Sarah Duda