H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng

 

Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng

 

HD-DVD STORE         HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE

 

ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Love of the Game HD-DVD

(Sam Raimi, 1999)

 

Universal (USA)

2.35:1 1080p

138 minutes

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 English; DD Plus 5.1 French

Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French

Extras: Spotlight on Location; The Perfect Game; deleted/extended scenes; On the Mound (trivia game); trailer; My Scenes

Released: September 18th, 2007

HD-DVD case

18 chapters

 

That Kevin Costner guy--he sure loves baseball.  He portrayed baseball players in Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and For Love of the Game.  He even played an ex-baseball player in The Upside of Anger even though the movie had nothing to do with America’s Pastime.  Costner as a movie star is most-likable as a baseball player, which makes it ironic that he won Oscars for producing and directing Dances With Wolves and not for swinging a baseball bat.  As good as Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, and Brian Cox are, Costner is the one who keeps viewers awake during the over-long For Love of the Game.  Costner plays a pitcher in what may be his last game.  During the game, he thinks about his relationship with his girlfriend, who is about to walk out of his life.  The movie’s alternating structure deadens the pacing, though you do find yourself rooting for Costner’s aw-shucks-just-needs-to-find-his-way protagonist.

 

Video:

The 2.35:1 1080p transfer shows how catalog titles should be transferred to HD DVD.  While the picture is a tad soft in some spots, overall, you get a smooth image with strong colors and excellent contrast.  The source print has several scratches, though I suppose we can’t expect every title under the sun to be fully restored.

 

 

 

Audio:

Elizabeth, For Love of the Game, and The Last Starfighter are the latest Universal catalog titles to carry lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks.  Unfortunately, the results vary wildly, with The Last Starfighter sounding no better than most DD 2.0 mono on SD-DVDs.  On the other hand, the sound mixes for Elizabeth and For Love of the Game justify the use of Dolby TrueHD.

 

While not an action movie, For Love of the Game has immersive audio effects courtesy of raucous fans inside a baseball stadium.  The soaring music score also envelopes the viewer, though dialogue levels are well-balanced with the rest of the mix.

 

You can also watch the movie with DD Plus 5.1 English and DD Plus 5.1 French tracks.  Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

 

Extras:

This HD DVD simply replicates the extras that were available on the SD-DVD.  Sam Raimi, usually known for genre movies, was simply a hired gun for this production, so it makes sense that he didn’t contribute an audio commentary.

 

“Spotlight on Location” is the expected boilerplate “making of” featurette that Universal slapped together for most of its late-1990s to early-2000s DVDs.  There are a lot of deleted/extended scenes, though it’s easy to see why they were cut from an already over-long movie.  “The Perfect Game” defines what a “perfect game” is and provides a list of some perfect games in baseball’s history.  If you complete the “On the Mound” trivia game, then you get to see a historical “Slide, Babe, Slide” film clip from 1931.  You also get the theatrical trailer.

  

 

Finally, you can bookmark your favorite moments with “My Scenes”.

 

--Miscellaneous--

An insert advertises other Universal HD DVDs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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