Film Length: 136 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD / French 5.1 Dolby Digital / Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English / English SDH / French / Spanish / Portuguese
The Film – 3 ½ out of 5
“l came to coach basketball players, and you became students. l came to teach boys, and you became men.”
Is it me, or do they just keep making these two types movies over and over? On the sports drama side we have Gridiron Gang, Remember The Titans, Hoosiers, Glory Road, All The Right Moves, Friday Night Lights, Radio, Varsity Blues and Rudy, just to name a few. And then we have academic dramas such as Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me and Dead Poets Society. And most of them are “based on true stories” (or in Coach Carter’s case “Inspired by the life of”. Wow! This stuff actually happened! (Well, sort of… it is just a movie, after all). Every time I see a trailer for one of these types of flicks, I tell myself that I am not going to watch it because I’ve already seen this movie a thousand times, but sure enough I’ll end up buying or renting the thing, and like clockwork, I get sucked into the damn story and end up liking it. Coach Carter successfully combines elements of both a sports drama and an academic drama and mashes them up into one enjoyable movie.
Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) shines as Kenneth Carter, who returns to his inner city alma mater, Richmond High, to coach the basketball team, the Oilers, who won only four games the previous season. After he forces this undisciplined team of misfits to sign a contract (that obligates them to maintain a 2.3 GPA, to attend every class and sit in the front row and must wear ties and jackets on game days), he subjects his players to grueling workouts and emphasizes conditioning first and foremost and defense over offense. But his unorthodox way of coaching works and the team starts winning. After the coach learns that much of his team are not holding up their end of the “contract” by maintaining at least a 2.3 GPA, he literally padlocks the gymnasium doors, forfeits games (sacrificing the team’s undefeated season) and forces the kids to hit the books. With the parents, players and the community fighting to get the team back on the court, it’s up to Coach Carter to teach them that their education is more important than winning basketball games.
Coach Carter comfortably combines elements of Hoosiers and Lean on Me and Jackson gives one of his best performances here without feeling the need to shout all of his dialogue. He commands your attention every time he’s on screen and deservedly so. Also giving strong performances are Rob Brown (who followed this movie with a similar film, Take the Lead, but instead of basketball, it’s ballroom dancing), pop singer Ashanti (John Tucker Must Die), Rick Gonzalez (War of the Worlds), Channing Tatum (Step Up), Robert Ri’chard (House of Wax) Nana Gbewonyo (Gran Torino) and Texas Battle (Final Destination 3). I believed all of the actors in their respective roles, despite the many cliché’s they were playing. Director Thomas Carter (Save The Last Dance) is no stranger to the high school basketball drama (he starred in and directed many episodes of “The White Shadow”, which seemed to be somewhat of an inspiration), however, I think he devotes far to much screen time to some of the predictable subplots, which would account to the bloated 2 ¼ hour running time. And although the film can get a little preachy, how could anyone really complain about the movie’s positive message about the importance of education? I found myself cheering at the end, along with the rest of the crowd.
The Video – 4 out of 5
This 1080P transfer is certainly an improvement over the standard DVD with an exceptionally sharper image with a high level of detail, however I was surprised to see just the slightest bit of edge enhancement. Flesh tones were accurate and the picture had a warm feel to it (especially in the scenes in the gym during basketball practices). This BD-50 eliminated any noise that was apparent in the standard DVD image with deep, rich blacks and great shadow detail.
The Audio / Sound – 4 out of 5
For a high school sports movie, the English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD surprised me and gave my system a bit of a workout. The dialogue was free and clear of any distortion, with the soundtrack boasting a solid use of surround with an active and lively atmosphere (especially during the games, when I cranked it up, I felt like I was there). Great use of low frequency effects, especially when the hip-hop soundtrack that included The Game, DMX, Akon and Lil’ Jon kicked in throughout the movie, the bass rumbled my walls! Trevor Rabin’s (‘memba him? From the band “Yes”) score was well balanced and was a nice juxtaposition to the rap music selected for the film. It's a nice upgrade from the standard DVD.
The Extra's - 3 ½ out of 5
This Blu-Ray includes all of the special features ported over from the standard DVD including:
Coach Carter: The Man Behind The Movie
Fast Break At Richmond High
6 Deleted Scenes
Hope - Music Video By Twista Featuring Faith Evans
And new to the Blu-Ray:
Writing Coach Carter: The Two Man Game
Coach Carter: Making The Cut
Original Theatrical Trailer in 1080P HD
What can I say, ever since Rocky, I’m a sucker for an inspirational feel good sports movie. If you haven’t seen it or don’t already own this, it’s worth picking up. It’s not a perfect slam dunk, but it definitely scores points.
Overall Score – 4 out of 5
Release Date: December 16, 2008
My DVD Collection: DVD Profiler, by Invelos Software, Inc.