American Sniper - Blu-ray Disc Review

American Sniper Blu-ray Disc
American Sniper Blu-ray Disc/DVD/UltraViolet Digital Copy. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to

Dateline: 05/19/2015
American Sniper, the controversial box-office hit, focusing on the life and military service of Chris Kyle is now available on Blu-ray.

In addition, this film is also the 10th to be released on Blu-ray Disc (the 2nd from Warner Bros) with a Dolby Atmos-encoded soundtrack, and having won an Academy Award for best Sound Editing, this is of particular interest for home theater viewing, but is it a worthy addition to your Blu-ray Disc collection? Keep reading to find out.

Studio: Warner Bros

Running Time: 134 minutes

MPAA Rating: R

Genre: War, Biography, Drama

Principal Cast: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Cole Konis, Ben Reed, Elise Robertson, and Sammy Sheik

Director: Clint Eastwood

Screenplay: Jason Hall

Executive Producers: Bruce Berman, Sheroum Kim, Tim Moore, Jason Hall

Producers: Bradley Cooper, Clint Eastwood, Andrew Lazar, Robert Lorenz, Peter Morgan

Discs: One 50 GB Blu-ray Disc, One DVD

Digital Copy: UltraViolet

Video Specifications: Video codec used - AVC MPEG4, Video resolution - 1080p, Aspect ratio 2.40:1 - Special features and supplements in various resolutions and aspect ratios.

Audio Specifications: Dolby Atmos (English), Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (default downmix for those that don't have a Dolby Atmos setup), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, Portuguese), Dolby Digital Plus (French).

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese).

Bonus Features:

One Soldier's Story: The Journey of American Sniper - Typical "script-to-screen" documentary that includes interviews with the screenwriter, Jason Hall, principal cast, director Clint Eastwood, and Taya Kyle, interspersed with scenes from the film and behind-the-scenes footage. Goes into detail on the changes were made from the original screenplay of the as a result of Chris Kyle's untimely death.

The Making of American Sniper – Nothing new to add on this one - has much of the same content that is explored in the One Soldier's Story documentary, but is more like an extended trailer in nature with references to the reviews, award nominations, etc... with a summary of the story, and some press interview excerpts.


American Sniper is a bio-pic of the life of Chris Kyle, credited for being the most effective sniper during the second Iraq War. However, the story goes beyond spotlighting his military service and also focuses on the effect of war on himself, his family, fellow SEALS, and marines. This is no John Wayne war fantasy - it is real, gritty, and has definitely stirred the pot across the political spectrum. Chris Kyle is portrayed in uncannily realistic fashion by Bradley Cooper. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation - Video

American Sniper features superb video and audio quality. First up, the video. The camera work for this film accomplishes a difficult feat, presenting both spectacle and intimacy on the frame at the same time. In the "battle scenes" what we see on screen a lot of the time is a view of a battlefield through the perspective of soldiers involved, specifically Chris Kyle, and even more specifically through his gun site. Would you make the same decisions he made?

Also, the visual detail is excellent - small objects, building, clothing, and vehicle are very natural and accurate, and the color pallet is accurate for the Iraq town settings (Morocco was apparently used for stand-in locations). Depth of field and perspective also adds to the visual impact of the film that it serves to really place you in the environment, an excellent example of how 2D, if photographed properly, can work to provide an almost 3D look - and that is coming from a 3D fan.

Blu-ray Disc Presentation - Audio

From the very beginning, I was hooked on the sound quality of this film presentation on Blu-ray. From the initial tank, rumbling coming out of my subwoofer, and gear noise coming from the front and sides, I was placed in the environment of the second Iraq War. Add helicopters, gunfire, and boots churning up the dust, and I could easily see (hear) why American Sniper won an Oscar for best sound editing.

However, what makes the sound quality on this film so great, are not just details I have mentioned so far, but subtlety in which the sound design was executed.

Unlike what you would expect from a typical War movie, the emphasis isn't on the big explosions (although there are some) but on the finer sound details, such as breaking down doors, the cocking of rifles, the layered sound of vehicle engines, and, of course, the sound of bullets flying in all directions (which are actually represented realistically as a series individual shots or short bursts and not the endlessly-long way they are presented in the most action movies).

Although to experience the most immersive surround sound result that includes more precise placement of overhead sounds and sounds that pan from one channel to the next, having a Dolby Atmos capable home theater receiver is desirable, but you don't need to have a Dolby Atmos setup or special Blu-ray Disc player to play this disc.

The Dolby Atmos track is backward compatible with Dolby TrueHD, which is how I listened to the soundtrack for this review, and it is still very impressive. For those that don't have a Dolby Atmos-enabled home theater setup, when you go put the disc in your Blu-ray Disc player, if the player does not detect a home theater receiver with Dolby Atmos decoding capability, a real-time downmix to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 or 5.1 is applied. All of the directional, height, and ambiance information contained in the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is placed within a 7.1 or 5.1 channel sound field.

Also, if you have a much older home theater receiver that does not provide Dolby TrueHD decoding, the soundtrack will further default to a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 channel mix.

To sum it up, no matter what surround sound format you use to hear this film (Dolby Atmos, TrueHD, Digital), American Sniper offers up one movie soundtrack that will definitely test how well your home theater system, from the loudest to the softest sounds, reproduce a realistic surround sound experience.

Note: Additional films released so far on Blu-ray Disc with Dolby Atmos soundtracks include: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Step Up All In, The Expendables 3, the 2014 incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, John Wick, On Any Sunday - The Next Chapter, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, Gravity: Diamond Luxe Edition and Unbroken

Final Take

Without going into what previous reviewers and pundits have discussed regarding Chris Kyle's story and the general subject matter of American Sniper, I will say that you should see this film and decide for yourself what you think of those aspects. However, that being said, American Sniper is definitely one heck-of-a-home-theater- viewing-experience. No matter what side of the political spectrum you are on, American Sniper is one polished example of technical filmmaking that will (or should be) discussed in film classes for years to come.

I feel that American Sniper is definitely a worthy candidate to add to your Blu-ray Disc collection.

REMINDER: This film is rated R.

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy - Check Prices

Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy (Best Buy Exclusive - Includes Bonus CinemaNow Download) - Check Prices

DVD-Only - Check Prices.

Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Players: OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-103D.

Video Projector: Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3500 (on review loan)

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center, 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

DISCLAIMER: Blu-ray Disc provided by Warner and Dolby Labs for Review Purposes.