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HTF BluRay Review: Leatherheads


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#1 of 14 Sam Posten

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Posted September 14 2008 - 03:46 PM

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Blu Ray Title: Leatherheads
Disk Release Date: September 16, 2008
Rated: PG-13
Screen format: 1080P, 1.85:1 High Definition
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: 4 April 2008
Previous releases on disk: Day and Date with Anamorphic Widescreen DVD
Director: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski, Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Root
Sound Formats: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Length: 1 Hour 54 Minutes (BD-25)
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French



Plot: 3.5/5

I recently described Leatherheads as “The football equivalent of ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’.” and that should be taken as a compliment. LH is George Clooney’s first attempt at directing a comedy and it’s as solid as anything else in his growing body of work. The guy just has a knack for making compelling films that have everyone involved with them raving about how tremendously fun and rewarding he is to work with (and for), which is doubly impressive coming from Mr. “Sexiest Man Alive” 26 times running.

If Leatherheads were simply a period comedy that would be one thing, but it goes far beyond that, incorporating editing and cinematography styles which cue along to the times along with smart and accurate dialogue and its use of highly realistic (for the time) Football tactics, It’s not all that refreshing a story but it is uniquely portrayed and genuinely funny.

Aging Football star Dodge Connelly (Clooney) wants nothing more from life than to keep playing football as long as he can do so professionally, in a time when Professional Sports is an oxymoron. Just when his team has teetered over the brink of bankruptcy Dodge convinces Princeton superstar Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) to join his team through negotiations with his wily agent, C.C. Frazier (Pryce), bringing great success and a much needed boost to the sport itself.

Dodge isn’t the only one working Carter over tho, hotshot reporter Lexie Littleton (Zellweger) is tracking down inconsistencies in Carter’s service record and she will use all of her feminine wiles to get the scoop while juggling another blossoming relationship with Dodge too. When the bombshell breaks the news will bring walls between all three of them and then the stakes rise even higher when Carter defects from Dodge’s team to their chief rivals. In the epic showdown between the two teams both men will re-evaluate what they stand for and just what it is that makes them happy.

One interesting behind the scenes factoid that this set doesn't delve into is the controversy over Clooney dropping his WGA level over a snit he had when the union refused to grant him a writing credit for the changes he made to the script originally penned by Duncan Brantley and famed sports writer Rick Reilly. Clooney's influences aren't hard to pick up on, especially the Coen brothers but he also delves deep into the OTHER films that certain scenes 'rip off' in his own words.

Clooney is also brilliant in the characters that he has making up the rest of this world, from Stephen Root's drunken reporter who can't write to previous actors from his past films (Plus a secret double role that I talk about below). I don't know what exactly the rules were about these kinds of things but I get the feeling that his changes were bigger than just minor scrubs on the script, seems like his hand was in every scene.

Sound Quality: 3.5/5

As a dialogue driven comedy set 90 years ago I wasn’t expecting Leatherheads to be too impressive sound wise and what I found was pretty solid but not extraordinary. Dialogue is crisp and clean and sound effects on field are dead on and well imaged, with occasional periods of well done fully enveloping sound fields most found in the segments which occur in the games held in the bigger venues. Bass is minimal but punchy when used for the ‘hits’ of player versus player, but keep in mind these guys aren’t wearing a whole lot of armor.

Musically, however, this film rocks. I’ve never been a big fan of Randy Newman’s Pixar scores but his period re-imaginings here are stellar and brilliant. From the opening use of “Hold That Tiger” I was hooked. The pieces are just so perfectly timed and integrated that it really made the film for me, and his cameo late in the film as a ragtime piano player sealed it.

Visual Quality: 3.5/5

While Leatherheads also takes many of its visual cues from 1920s era films it does not do so in a jarring way, for example there is no print damage or other artificial effects that would be normal from that period, and as expected for a new HD release the transfer is smooth and very detailed. I was particularly impressed with many of the close-ups of the actors faces as there was a lot of hammy expressiveness put into them and the shots were very sharp. Outside scenes were a bit greyer and less colorful, taking on a subdued desaturation that isn’t quite sepia but often approaches it. I did not notice any halos or ringing effects and grain structure was intact and looked natural and unobtrusive. Overall the visual look seemed just right for this movie, mostly sharp and detailed without being flashy.

Extra Features: 2/5

There are only three extra features and they overlap quite a bit. The first is a feature length commentary with Clooney and producer Grant Heslov. I don’t normally spend much time with commentaries but I listened to almost all of this one and it was interesting to see the challenges they faced and the goofiness Clooney brings to all he does yet he manages to be so well liked and respected and gets things done. There are also two U-Control tracks, one is a PiP with these two again going through the same thing. I especially liked watching the ‘Jumper’ scene, theres a secret to that segment that I would never have guessed! Finally there is a true ‘behind the scenes’ U-Control PiP that is very random and disjointed, almost like they shoveled a bunch of DVD extra content onto it. Hey I bet they actually did that!

Overall: 3.5/5 (not an average)

Leatherheads is a fun little movie that has smart writing and characters with moxie. It makes the BD leap with transfers that capture the essence of what the film is going for in as good a level of detail as the source will allow. While the bonuses are a little anemic, at least Clooney’s an interesting host on his two contributions and he brings viewers into a lot of the background stories that make for good tales. Definitely worthy of a rental!

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#2 of 14 Ed St. Clair

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Posted September 15 2008 - 05:41 AM

Thanks.
Been waiting for this on HD Sisc since B4 the film was released!

EDitEDbyED:
I see nothing in your video write-up that would drop 1.5 points off the rating.
Could you explain?
Thanks, again.
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#3 of 14 Sam Posten

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Posted September 15 2008 - 08:24 AM

I don't necessarily think of review ratings like olympics gymnastics scores where specific defects are assigned demerits. I think of them as a holistic accumulation of the entire 'look' of a given disk. This is complex because it wraps up the look of the source material with the quality of a given transfer. Note also that I am not a pixel peeper, I appreciate the art and craft more than the technical nitty gritty, which is kind of amusing when you consider that I am an engineer. For me, the transfer details are important of course but I refuse to get wrapped around the axle of minor defects which has experts on other forums calling films ruined when the transfers are otherwise perfectly fine. There are of course instances where the problem is truly noticeable and I will call them out, as I will even the minor ones where I find them distracting or even noticeable. Again however I look at the whole package and my scores reflect that.

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#4 of 14 Ed St. Clair

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Posted September 15 2008 - 11:57 AM

A very detailed answer about how you review, too my question about the video rating of this disc.
So if I understand correctly, a BIG if, your 3.5 score of this transfer puts it just above avg. w/your review mentioning no flaws.
I'll try and look up some other BD 3.5 PQ ratings you have given; too better grasp what you think of this release.
Thanks, again!

That didn't take long! ;-)
You have it below the TV show "Heroes" & "Miami Vice" the movie (4.0)
& w/"Baby Mama" and the direct to video release "Scorpion King II".
Got it! :-)

(no reply required)

EDitEDbyED:
Clooney sure is making a grand career for himself.
(as well as for us too enjoy!)
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HD should be for EVERYONE!

#5 of 14 Sam Posten

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Posted September 15 2008 - 04:34 PM

Yeah, I also wouldnt get too wrapped up in direct comparisons to other titles that are not in similar genres or periods. That's what I mean by holistic, you have to consider all of the variables. Truth be told I could have given this a 4 but for now my score stands as is. It's a judgement call and thats how I felt as I was viewing it, second guessing myself is only going to lead to trouble =) You do make a fair point that I didnt articulate too well why I gave it the score I did, but I consider it above average and just below great when you look at it from all sides. Sorry if that sounds confusing!

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#6 of 14 Ed St. Clair

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Posted September 16 2008 - 10:19 AM

Clear as a bell!
Thanks & enjoy.
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#7 of 14 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted September 16 2008 - 10:56 AM

Perhaps, you need to do what the latest (Beijing) Olympics did w/ the gymnastics scoring and break it out into 2 components: one for execution (ie. actual transfer) and one for the routine's difficulty (ie. the cinematic art of the content itself). Posted Image

Otherwise, personally, the score is pretty useless, IMHO, particularly for the review of a particular home video release (vs say the original theatrical screening).

Having said all that, I do appreciate the hard work you put into the review and will just ignore the score itself (unless it was a terrible score). Posted Image Posted Image

Anyway, sounds like this is at least worth a rental for me as I had not even heard about this film until the other day. Posted Image

Thanks again...

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#8 of 14 TonyD

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Posted September 16 2008 - 11:28 AM

i have a copy that i hope to watch in the next few days.

what i would have liked on this is some info on the many years it took to get this story put together as a movie.

here in philly we have a gentleman who is a bit of a football
historian, former sports writer and now works for nfl films, also he is
on the local sports talk am station once a week to talk sports.
Ray Diddinger.

He has talked about this movie and how much of a dissapointment it was.

not because it wasn't funny enough or not a good movie, but because
clooney turned the story into a slapstick comedy type and that it was more that then actual info on the history of the early part of the league..

He was more detailed about his problems with the film but hasn't talked
on it since the theatrical release.
hopefully htis week someone will bring it up again and he'll get on it again.

btw he's on 610 wip am. saturday afternoons.
610wip.com.

thanks for the review sam.
also i never take the points or stars on a review to be equal from one movie to the next.

2 movies both ranked 3.5 aren't necessarily equal in goodness or quality.
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#9 of 14 Tina_H_V

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Posted September 17 2008 - 03:48 PM

Way to write it up, Sam!!!!!!!!!

I truly enjoyed this one in the theater back in April and look forward to adding it to my Blu-ray collection. Thanks a lot!!!! Posted Image
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#10 of 14 Adam Gregorich

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Posted September 20 2008 - 04:40 AM

Quote:
I truly enjoyed this one in the theater back in April and look forward to adding it to my Blu-ray collection.

Ditto that. My wife and I watched it in the theater and loved it. Great review Sam I'll be picking it up. I'm looking forward to the commentary.

#11 of 14 TonyD

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Posted September 23 2008 - 01:37 PM

finally got around to this one.

It was a fun movie but i think that was what i didnt like about it.
The acting was hammed up and the story was just silly.

the football action was too exaggerated and cartoony.
Arms and legs flying up as high as they can go when someone was running down the field.
It was like watching the 3 Stooges do a football movie.
A knock down fist fight between two people that barely registered a bruise.

there wasn't enough about the start of pro football.
They couldnt have paid for the rights to use the names of the teamss.

The chicago team was just called "the chicago team"

why was carter Rutherford traded to the chicago team and for whom
just 1 day efore the big game with chicago.

Was it a tribute or a parody of the films from the early days of movies?

What exactly was wrong with the trick plays that Dodge was using for his team
to win and why would they throw him out of football for using trick plays.

I would have loved to see some football history and less soap opera with the was hero stuff.

besides all that I liked it.

Posted Image
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#12 of 14 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted September 23 2008 - 02:14 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD
It was a fun movie but ...

besides all that I liked it.

Posted Image

LoL. But isn't that what it's all about? Posted Image Sounds like the flick did exactly what it set out to do for you even if you were hoping to see some other kind of flick. Posted Image

Also, sounds like they sorta attempted to give you the background info and such via one of the PiP features, but maybe it wasn't a very good attempt. It probably should've just come w/ a good documentary for all the stuff you felt were missing (as this kind of flick could often benefit on the home video release)...

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#13 of 14 TonyD

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Posted September 23 2008 - 02:37 PM

I don't use the u-control feature.
If the u-c feature listed what each individual one was about then i might
look at them.
this could be done in the menu while you high light each u-c bubble it could tell you the gist of that specific u-c feature

as of now each u-c feature is a crap shoot for what each one is about.
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#14 of 14 Rachael B

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Posted September 23 2008 - 03:24 PM

Tina likes the film, my mom hated it....that equals decent film in all likelyhood. Generally, if my mom dislikes a film, I'll like it. Sam likes it and entices me. I'll proably buy a copy in a month or two when I can get a better price than $27. I'm buying too many other discs this week to even consider it. It's makin' my want list though.
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