STUDIO: A&E Home Video
MSRP: $24.95
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
Extended footage
Slide show with commentary

The Pitch

Marines document their tour of duty in Iraq with video cameras. It’s just like The Real World, except without all the sex and retards desperately trying to get famous.

The Humans

The Marines of Lima Company.

The Nutshell

Out of all the active companies in Iraq, no unit has endured more losses than Lima Company. Composed of reservists and the occasional member of the Iraqi army, the group never really expected to be on the frontlines of combat so often.

Simple missions designed to guard the Syrian border devolved into huge firefights with insurgents in nearby towns. Routine patrols along Iraqi roads turned into scenes of carnage when IEDs destroyed American tanks.

This documentary lets you see it all from the perspective of the men who lived through it. You’ll see the last days of several Marines whose lives were cut short and how their families are coping with the loss.

The Package

The documentary itself is presented in 16:9 widescreen format with Dolby Digital stereo sound. The meat of the special features comes in the extended footage and slideshow commentary.

The extended footage is simply much longer segments of the combat footage shot by the Marines of Lima Company that was chopped up and shortened in order to fit into the documentary. It can be difficult to tell exactly what’s going on at times without narration, but it gives you a sense of how hectic and confusing combat is when you’re thrown right into the thick of things.

The slideshow reunites three members of Lima Company as they sit in a recording studio and tell the stories behind many of the photographs they took while serving in Iraq. The three guys joke around a lot and their camaraderie makes the slideshow very enjoyable and a real step above the traditional DVD tactic of just slapping a few still photos on the disc and calling it a special feature.

The Lowdown

Combat Diary is a fairly straightforward documentary as far as things go. The film typically follows a pattern of introducing a Marine that died during duty, showing their background and how they related to their fellow soldiers, then showing video footage of the battle in which they died. This is followed by the reflections of the other members of Lima Company and the deceased soldier’s family.

The film is more of a tribute to the fallen soldiers than an actual account of Lima Company’s operations in Iraq. No narrators are heard besides actual men that served in the company and who wish to honor their fallen friends. The somber tone and setup of the film could probably be accused of being manipulative, but there’s really no other way to present the deaths of close friends other than in a tragic light.

The film does not spend any time preaching or raging against the war machine that sent these young men to their deaths. There’s no political bias or message that is driven into the audience’s heads. The filmmaker and the Marines involved could care less about the politics of war. The film is simply a tribute to fallen soldiers that died many miles from home and the families they left behind.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10