Zero Dark 30 – the second war time masterpiece from Kathryn Bigelow is coming to DVD and Blu Ray on July 10th and to celebrate (yay 🙂 fireworks) I am digging the film review out of the vault and thanks to ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION we have 2X COPIES of the film to giveaway on BLU RAY – WOOT. See below my review for deets on how to win! Happy reading and winning…………..Salty.

Basic plot description for this masterpiece – it’s the Osama Bin Laden hunting film and that’s it. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.I will say what I said after I saw Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, that scored her an Oscar, she has come a long way since Point Break 


Kathryn Bigelow's ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release
Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release


This was originally going to be directed by Bigelow’s ex – my god of film, James Cameron, however he decided to pull out to pursue making Avatar sequels. Funnily enough it was Avatar Bigelow beat to win her Oscar for The Hurt Locker – how incestuous they are for a divorced couple  But I have got to hand it to her – she has found her niche and she is just brilliant at the military story.


Kathryn Bigelow's ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release
Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release


This film lays it bare and tells the tale from a semi documentary perspective and was originally being written by Bigelow and Mark Boal as a story on the lengthy and unsuccessful hunt for Bin Laden – as they were nearing completion of the story Bin Laden was killed – so the entire story was ditched and they started again – that must have been fun.  Now the film does gloss over some stuff but you would not think it – it has such an authentic feel to it you will no doubt take the film as gospel. However these things were left out of the film:

1) the debate over whether to bomb the compound or conduct a special forces raid;
2) the construction of a complete training mockup of the compound in North Carolina and repeated drills using the same SEAL teams and helicopters as on the eventual raid, and;
3) the presence of backup Black Hawks at a forward staging area during the mission, which proved to be vital to recovering the team after the crash of the stealth Black Hawk during the initial insertion.
It is assumed these were left out for dramatic purposes.


Kathryn Bigelow's ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release
Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release


The film also holds nothing back in regards to the touchy subject of “torture” used to achieve answers and leads in the investigation. This has caused much controversy the world over with three politically active members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Martin Sheen, David Clennon and Edward Asner, announced they were organizing a public condemnation of Zero Dark Thirty for what they termed its “tolerance” of torture. Acting CIA Director Michael Morell issued a statement about the film emphasizing that while the production team had met with the CIA, the film is a dramatization and is not historically accurate. Morell specifically contradicted the film’s assertion that “enhanced interrogation techniques”, also known as “torture”, had been of significant benefit in locating Osama bin Laden. Director Morell stated, “That impression is false. We cannot allow a Hollywood film to cloud our memory.” Hahahahaha – Morell you are a tool!

This has also caused much support the world over, with, surprisingly, Michael Moore being the strongest supporter of Bigelow’s Direction. He pointed out that in no way could she be a “supporter” of torture. The chief torturer in the film is mentally crippled and begs for a desk job and also as Bigelow says herself “I thankfully want to say that I’m standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement”, this was said when she accepted the Best Director award at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. I also think those controversial members of the Academy of tools were the ones that kept her out of nomination contention for the Oscars even though the film is up for best picture.


Kathryn Bigelow's ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release
Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release


But enough about this controversy – let’s talk about the acting – 2 WORDS – absofuckinglutely sensational. All of it. This is one of those films where it is a masterpiece of orchestration that pulls together without missing a beat. Jessica Chastain steals the show as Maya, the obsessed person that has the one idea that drives her and then the rest of the CIA to capture Bin Laden. What a sensational character to play – so reserved, intelligent and brilliant to watch. This entire film is a fly on the wall film. I found it very documentary like with no huge scene stealing moments and that is why the film is so great, nothing over the top. There is, however, one moment of dialogue that got a whoop out of me (I may have thrown in a fist pump), and keep in mind, this is from the most professional eager, obsessed and, mostly, withdrawn character in the film.:

C.I.A. Director: What’s this cluster of buildings over here?
George: That’s the PMA – the Pakistani Military Academy.
C.I.A. Director: [looks at him incredulously]
George: It’s their West Point.
C.I.A. Director: How far is it from the compound?
George: About a mile.
Maya: [deadpans] Four thousand, two hundred, twenty one feet; it’s closer to eight-tenths of a mile.
C.I.A. Director: Who are you?
Maya: [deadpans] I’m the motherfucker that found this place.

This dialogue itself crushes any residual belief that the CIA and war to find Obama was a man’s job – what a sensational character and inspiration to women all over – the world’s most wanted criminal was brought down mostly thanks to a woman who just never gave up. It is quite possible that due to this Chastain will score the Oscar. I honestly want Naomi Watts to get it for The Impossible but there is no denying the allure of this character and the way Chastain played her.


Kathryn Bigelow's ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release
Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY reviewed for Blu Ray Release


Huge kudos to Cinematographer Greig Fraser on this one. Extra points because he is an Aussie. Fraser’s other work includes DOP for LET ME IN and Cinematographer for SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. He makes this film look like you are a fly on the wall but also in the room with them and being part of it all. It could actually have worked in 3D but the final climax of the film is a masterpiece in film making – it may as well have been real footage. Superb. That’s another thing that works with this film. The story inevitably leads you to a huge climax. The film is basically sex. It teases you with brilliance for close on 2hrs and then builds to a 20min orgasm right before the end. It builds magnificently then erupts joyously hahaha. The funny thing, that you love, regardless, is that you know the end you just don’t know how good it is.

On a final note – what the hell does ZERO DARK 30 mean? I will tell you – it is militrary – it means 1230am. Zero hundred hours – it is night and it is half past. I liked that bit of trivia – they try and explain it quickly in the film because they show the clock at 1230am as they head in to the complex. Now this brilliant film commences tomorrow, THUR 31st January in Australia in most cinemas. It is long at two and half hours but worth it.


5 Pops


To win one of the two copies of the BLU RAY available, again thanks to ICON FILM DISTRIBUTION you need to Tweet us @saltypopcornau with the hashtag #ZD30win the answer to the following question:

What is the best war film of all time and why? (remember 140 characters only :) )

If you do not have Twitter then you can put it on our Facebook wall – the links are on the Salty home page so you can get there :) Or if you still have my email address then go for it.

The BLU RAYs do not release until the 10th so will be sent out around this date to the winners.