Despite its title, “Trouble with the Curve” never does more than lob the ball to its audience, offering some easy entertainment but ultimately not much challenge. The Blu-ray release takes a similar approach, providing a solid high definition presentation but holding back with its bonus material. Trouble with the Curve Release Date: December 18, 2012 Studio: Well Go USA Packaging/Materials: Two-disc Blu-ray Eco-Box with slipcover Year: 2012 Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 1:51:12 MSRP: $35.99 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video AVC: 1080p high definition 2.40:1 High definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital: English 2.0, English 5.1 Subtitles English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese Same The Feature: 3/5 Veteran baseball scout Gus Lobel (Clint Eastwood) hasn’t lost his touch after all these years. He can still sniff out a recruit’s potential just by watching and listening to how he swings the bat. But his methods defy modern baseball’s love of statistical analysis, making him a relic, if not a soon-to-be-retired baseball scout. His worsening vision, which he’s having an increasingly difficult time hiding, will only hasten his departure from the job, something a few in his organization already think is overdue. When Gus’s practically estranged daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) is made aware of his problems through a longtime family friend (John Goodman), she begrudgingly joins her father on his latest scouting assignment, even though that could jeopardize her chances of making partner in her Atlanta law firm. But despite her personal sacrifice, her father doesn’t want or feel he needs her help, bringing to the fore long unresolved issues between them. As they circle around a resolution, Johnny (Justin Timberlake), a former pitcher Gus once recruited and who’s now a scout himself, strikes up a flirtatious friendship with Mickey. While his lighthearted personality provides a needed pressure valve for the tense father-daughter dynamic, his genuine interest in Mickey could prove to be something much more significant and, ultimately, therapeutic. For “Trouble with the Curve” Clint Eastwood hands over the directorial reins to one of his longtime crew members, making Robert Lorenz’s first directorial effort Eastwood’s first “acting only” project in quite some time. Both men do a fine job in their respective roles, but frankly the script offers little in the way of originality, its story sounding not unlike the latest cable TV movie from Hallmark or Lifetime. While the filmmakers show a measure of restraint often lacking in those other offerings, avoiding obvious baseball metaphors and allowing the characters to drive the story, they pretty much abandon these ideals in the final act, where both conflicts and resolutions bear an unmistakable, manufactured quality. Of course there were clues where things were headed early on, but confident direction and strong performances by the cast afforded the movie some benefit of the doubt. The too-tidy ending probably won’t give pause to those keen on a feel-good moment, but others will undoubtedly walk away dissatisfied. Video Quality: 4/5 Framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the image features deep, inky blacks and nicely saturated color and flesh tones. Contrast can be a bit inconsistent, however, looking a touch compressed whether it’s in broad daylight at an outdoor stadium or the dimmer environment of Boot’s Bar. Detail is quite good though, holding up in both wide shots and close-ups. The transfer also shows no signs of excessive digital noise reduction or sharpening. Audio Quality: 4/5 Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is generally crisp, clear and intelligible, though Eastwood can be a bit of a mumbler with some of his lines. The various baseball sound effects also have a pleasing clarity and detail. Surround channels provide the usual support for environmental noises and soundtrack cues, and though the activity is fairly tame, it’s all nicely balanced and transparent. LFE is non-existent, but the track exhibits satisfying depth and dynamic range throughout. Special Features: 1.5/5 With two featurettes spending most of their time showering praise on the director and cast, the bonus material offers little in the way of depth. Optional viewing formats in the form of a DVD and UltraViolet copy fill out the package that would otherwise be quite spartan. Pre-Menu Trailers UltraViolet (1:20, HD) 42 (1:49, HD) Rising Through the Ranks (4:37, HD): The featurette focuses on director Robert Lorenz and how he worked his way up Eastwood’s production crew to direct his first feature. In typical fashion, interview subjects, which include members of the core cast, have nothing but positive things to share about his work. For the Love of the Game (6:02, HD): The cast talk about their time working together and how much they enjoyed it. DVD Copy: The feature is framed at 2.40:1 and enhanced for widescreen. Audio options consist of Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, French and Spanish. Subtitles are also in English, French and Spanish. The “Love of the Game” featurette is the sole bonus item. Digital Copy: Redeem the UltraViolet offer by December 18, 2014. Recap and Recommendation The Film: 3/5 Video Quality: 4/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 1.5/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3/5 Warner Home Video plays it safe with its release of “Trouble with the Curve,” delivering a strong high definition presentation of the predictable feature, but limiting the bonus material to a handful of perfunctory items. Those who enjoyed the film should be pleased with the technical quality, but will likely want to wait until a price drop for the practically barebones release.