DVD Review: TAPS Special Edition

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TAPS- 25th Anniversary Special Edition

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 126 minutes, audio commentary, two featurettes, 2 teaser trailers, theatrical trailer, work print trailer, and 2 TV spots

STUDIO: 20th Century FOX

RELEASE DATE: 9-12-2006

TAPS is an interesting drama that ultimately is 20 minutes too long.

Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, and Ronny Cox are the best actors in the film while Tom Cruise proves he was the hotheaded bad actor back then like he is now. Timothy Hutton is Cadet Major Mooreland at Bunker Hill Academy. He idolizes General Bache (Gorge C. Scott) who runs the school. The board that the General reports to has decided to sell the school without consulting him, so the land can be developed and condos can be built. After that, things start to spiral out of control as the students at the military school decide to take control of the weapons stored there and take possession of the school. The police surround Bunker Hill and soon the National Guard (led by Colonel Kerby (Ronny Cox)) is called in. The tension rises as the cadets think they are right, but the audience knows there will be no happy ending for Bunker Hill. Mooreland's friend (Sean Penn) sticks by, but he sees taking and holding Bunker hill is futile. However, Cadet Captain Shawn (Tom Cruise) wants a battle that no one else really wants including Kerby.

I know the students should take a stand, but their way of doing it is just wrong. In the days of students terrorizing schools, the action taken against these students would be more extreme now. Mooreland took the general's words too literal and the execution of it is very flawed. TAPS is flawed because it plays on for 20 minutes too long and I wonder where all the other instructors are at. The general is the only one who interacts at the start of the movie where the teachers are very inactive and hardly ever seen. At least you see some of the parents including Mooreland's military dad. TAPS has an impact, but it is far from perfect. I just think TAPS would have been better than what it was if the script was refined further. As is, it is a flawed and yet interesting drama charged with conflict and many questions.

VIDEO: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

The transfer looks good, but video noise of film grain is very present in low light and nighttime scenes.

AUDIO: English 4.0 Dolby Surround, French Mono, Spanish Mono

Subtitles: English, Spanish

Dialogue is clear, but some surround action is present (it just isn't as impressive as some of the 5.1 or 2.0 tracks I have heard).


The audio commentary by director Harold Becker is a bore because he mostly rambles on about the characters, themes, and story with very little info about the production itself. The gaps of silence increase as the track goes on.

On the other hand, SOUNDING THE CALL TO ARMS: MOBILIZING TEH TAPS GENERATION (a 30 minute feturette in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen) provides a wealth of info about the casting and production of TAPS with interviews by Harold Becker, the producer, actors Timothy Hutton and Ronny Cox. TAPS was filmed at Valley Forge Military Academy. The other featurette, THE BUGLER'S CRY: THE ORIGINS OF PLAYING TAPS, is also in Anamorphic Widescreen. Rounding out the extras are two teaser trailers, a work print trailer (in black and white), the theatrical trailer in Anamorphic Widescreen), and two TV spots. Also included in the DVD case is a 4 page booklet that features a couple of pages of info.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The TAPS 25th SE is a well put together DVD that any fan of this movie should own.

this review is (c)9-11-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com  and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com