L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

 

Introduction: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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DodgeBall - A True Underdog Story (Unrated) [Blu-ray]

 

(Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2004)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 93 minutes

Chapters: 22

Size: 50 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: December 9, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35;1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC @ 34 Mbps

 

Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1; Spanish & French Dolby Digital 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Cantonese & Mandarin

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Director Thurber & Actors Vince Vaughn & Ben Stiller

• Dodgeball Boot Camp: Training for Dodgeball (3:27)

• The Anatomy of a Hit (3:25)

• Justin Long: A Study in Ham & Cheese (3:34)

• Dodgeball: Go for the Gold (1:20)

• More with the Dodgeball Dancers (2:29)

• Deleted Scenes (12:02)

• Bloopers & Gag Reel (3:02)

 

 

The Film: 5
DodgeBall can't quite make up its mind if it wants to be a raunch in the park or a heartwarming comedy and therefore doesn't quite succeed at either. Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller are the owners of personal fitness gyms across the street from each other. They could hardly be thought of as competing since Vince has an attitude to success that would make "who cares" a step up. "Average Joe's" has maybe a half dozen regulars – all out of shape losers of one sort or another. Ben's "Globo Gym" is high tech and just bursting with pumped up hard bodies, while Ben's ad campaign is an exercise in self-parody.

Vince is paid a visit by attorney Christine Taylor who informs him that he has 30 days to pay $50,000 or his business goes into foreclosure. He has a meet with his regulars to figure out how they can stay in business and they hit upon the idea of competing in the annual Dodgeball Tournament in Las Vegas. The prize: $50,000. Natch. Of course, none of these guys can throw or catch. Enter: Patches O'Houlihan (Rip Torn) who famously made a children's educational film in the 1950s on the fine points of dodgeball (one of the funnier bits in the movie). With his help, and Christine's, who joins the team out of disgust with Stiller they march on to Vegas where Ben has organized his Nazi troopers into a merciless opposing force.

Ah, Ben Stiller, playing here a character we love to hate – so full of himself that if he were any more so he would explode – as he somehow doesn't do when he inflates the crotch of his training pants. Ben is amazingly buff here, and I kept wondering if it was just makeup – real or CG. In fact, his character is a serious overeater that torments himself with plates of food while hooked up to an electroshock device. Very droll.

Rawson Thurber's writing feels like rough drafts of could have been a pretty good comedy - I have to admit the situations are pretty funny. But there is precious little character motivation, even for comedy: The reasons offered for Ben to have the level of animosity that he has toward Vince are more like jokes than explanations - a problem that could have been cured by their being stepbrothers, for example. Nor does Thurber offer any explanation for why Christine Taylor's character warms up to Average Joe's, and Vince in particular. She is, after all, hot and successful, and it isn't like Vince and Ben are the only men who are hitting on her. Thurber brings supporting characters in only to tease us and then neglects them. The raunchy stuff occurs mostly at the beginning of the movie, for if it were later it would seem out of place. So make sure the beer and pizza is already out before you start the movie.

 


 

Image: 8/9
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Dodgeball comes with a high bit rate, the image is solid, with no worrisome artifacts or blemishes. Sharpness is very good, especially when the camera caresses all those hard bodies at the Globo Gym or at the car wash. Color is fairly natural, with good blacks and shadow detail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/7
Ah, the whack of the dodgeballs! – whether on their hapless victims or against the floor and walls - the uncompressed audio mix gets a great workout. Timbres of ball slaps and shoe squeaks vary realistically. Dialog is crisp. Surrounds come into play mostly during the tournament with audience cheers and jeers and balls zipping by from various directions – an excellent audio mix.

 

 

 

Operations: 6
One thing I am enjoying about Fox Blu-rays of late is that we can get directly to the menu immediately upon seeing the ATTENTION warning with a click of the Top Menu button. On the other hand, with the number of 3-minute bonus items, a Play All would have been nice.

 

Extras: 5
Aside from the amusing repartee between Stiller, Vaughn and Thurber in Beavis & Butthead fashion on the commentary, there's not a lot to go on here – and it's all in various sizes and shapes, weak to strong, standard def.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
The comedy is low, though occasionally clever, but rarely mean, despite Stiller's character. (The tournament is covered by ESPN8. Their motto: "If it's almost a sport, we have it here.") The romance is kept at arm's length. There are a couple of unexpected celebrity appearances, in and out of character. The blu-ray is definitely the way to go here if this movie is for you: the image is clean and clear, the audio is better than the movie deserves.

Leonard Norwitz
December 13th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 





 

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