DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Million Dollar Baby - Three Disc Deluxe Edition (VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Herb Kane, Jul 8, 2005.

Tags:
  1. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,342
    Likes Received:
    0
    [​IMG]

    Million Dollar Baby
    Three Disc - Deluxe Edition





    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2004
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 132 Minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Enhanced Widescreen
    Audio: DD 5.1
    Color/B&W: Color
    Languages: English & French
    Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
    MSRP: $39.98
    Package: 3 discs in a 3-panel Digipak in a cardboard slipcover



    "Winners are simply willing to do what losers won't"

    The Feature:
    If all contemporary films were made like this, I might never watch another classic ever again. The fact is, however, they're not. Like a bottle of fine wine, Clint Eastwood just keeps on getting better. In what was his 25th directorial effort, Eastwood would succeed in not only directing, but producing a film that would secure seven Academy Award nominations and four wins, including Best Picture. Not only would Eastwood go on to win the Best Director award, the film's star Hilary Swank would win for Best Leading Actress and long time fan favorite, Morgan Freeman would capture his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Warner Brothers is set to release the 2004 film to our favorite format on July 12th. The film will be available as a Two Disc version for $29.95 or a Three Disc Deluxe Edition - the third disc being the film's soundtrack - which will list for $39.95.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Frankie Dunn (played by Clint Eastwood) is a tired and troubled proprietor of a run-down gym in Los Angeles. He has spent the last several years teaching and coaching a promising young boxer, Willie Little (played by Mike Colter) who has up and left his dedicated trainer for a more promising (and potentially more lucrative) shot at the title. The loss and disappointment of his young apprentice has hurt him deeply and when he is approached by a young and seemingly talent-less female boxer, he quickly responds, "I don't train girls". Maggie (played by Hillary Swank) is a 30 year old woman, who seems young by nature, hasn't had many breaks in life. The woman who was brought up on the fringe of society is tremendously persistent and pleads with Frankie to be her trainer. Boxing is the only dream she's every truly had. It becomes clear that she is extremely dedicated as she’s a waitress by day - something she's done since she was a kid - and trains tirelessly by night. She sees boxing as the only means possible, to leave the greasy café.

    [​IMG]

    Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (played by Morgan Freeman) is a former boxer, who was managed by Frankie many years earlier. Now he is the caretaker of the gym, living in a small room there and is Frankie's best friend and confidant. He's also the stabilizing factor, keeping Frankie's feet firmly planted whenever necessary. Their friendship is unflappable although it would seem they like to bicker as Frankie chastises Scrap about wearing holey socks - while Scrap wastes no time razzing Frankie about his constant reading of poetry. It's that same voice of reason that is able to convince Frankie to give Maggie that chance as he finally agrees to be her trainer. Maggie proves herself, working her way up through various title bouts but just when she's about to claim worldwide fame and success, her career takes a sudden and unexpected turn.

    As the story unfolds, we learn the agony and torment Frankie is going through, as he tries to connect with his estranged daughter only to have each and every letter he sends her marked, "return to sender". He keeps the evidence of his attempts in a shoebox high on a closet shelf. Maggie, it would seem, becomes the loving and needy daughter he so yearns to have. The other burden Frankie carries is that of guilt. Years earlier, Scrap, sustained severe injuries losing eye during a title bout while being managed by Frankie. Frankie's guilt, although rarely discussed, is ever present.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The film was adapted by Paul Haggis from Rope Burns: Stories From the Corner, a 2000 story by Jerry Boyd, a 70-year-old fight manager who wrote it as "F.X. Toole." Needless to say the performances here - all of them - are terrific. The chemistry here between Eastwood and Freeman is electric as Freeman is the voice of reason, able to pull Frankie's character back when necessary. Like in the ultra-popular The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman spends much of his time telling the story by way of voice-over narration. I can't think of anyone better, to set the demure and laidback tone, at least in terms of Scrap's likeable and respectable character.

    [​IMG]

    The Feature: 5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Video:
    Whether fair, or not, I make it a habit of holding transfers of new films to a much higher standard than those of years past. I'm very happy to report that this transfer is excellent in virtually every aspect. Shown in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, this video presentation is very impressive indeed.

    As we might expect, a film dealing with boxing and all things "gritty", might look somewhat gritty or slightly grainy and there are occasional examples of this, but nothing that stands out or brings attention to itself. Colors are vibrant and saturated quite nicely. Skin tones always looked real and accurate. There is a chilly hint of blue hues that frequent the overall look of the film. Blacks were deep and dark - yet never murky and whites were always clean and crisp.

    Image definition was also impressive - not razor sharp, but impressive - not only on facial close-ups but on wider and longer shots. What really impressed me and stood out like a sore thumb was the amount of dimensionality and texture the film exhibits. There are a couple examples of an almost 3D like effect projected by my Sharp 9000 DLP PJ. Most impressive.

    As we would expect, the print was virtually immaculate and free of any dust or dirt - scratch free. There were absolutely no signs of any edge enhancement visible on my system and the authoring seems to have been handled perfectly as compression was never an issue.

    I'm sure we'll see this in HD before too long although I can't imagine the improvement being earth shattering.

    Video: 5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Audio:
    I was just as impressed by the audio presentation as I was with the video portion. Think of this 5.1 DD encoded track as "solid, but not flashy", which does everything right.

    The majority of this film consists of dialogue, all of which is clearly bold and intelligible. Even during the fight scenes and film score, the dialogue is never lost among the competition. The track is absolutely clean and free of any hiss or other noisy distractions.

    The track exhibits terrific dynamic range, frequently going back and forth from the subtlest of scenes to the chaos in the ring. Pun intended - the track packs a good punch which is evidenced by the visceral thuds and snaps of the boxing gloves as they connect on each of their opponents. When the connections are solid, the impact is enough to get our attention - never becoming fake or gimmicky. The soundstage is equally impressive, not only in its ability at rendering the terrific Eastwood score, but aiding in the vastness of the gym and the various boxing arenas.

    A terrific use of surrounds in this film. Again, not gimmicky or distracting, but effective and subtly placed i.e. crowd noise, locker room noises, street ambiance etc. Well done. There's even a few instances of an LFE workout.

    Not something you'll use for a HT demo, but absolutely effective in doing what needs to be done.

    Audio: 5/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Special Features:
    The majority of supplements are located on Disc Two, while the soundtrack is on disc three for the Deluxe Edition. The set looks like this:


    Disc One
    [*] The only feature to appear on disc one is the Theatrical Trailer which appears here and is in pristine condition - a terrifically intriguing piece, narrated by who else? Morgan Freeman. I could listen to this man all day long... Duration: 2:24 minutes.


    Disc Two
    [*] The first feature is entitled Born To Fight which is a short documentary where a number of the film's participants show up. Hillary Swank talks about her training and preparing herself mentally for the role as Maggie, while Clint Eastwood makes a few brief appearance and talks about the basic premise of the film and producing a film dealing with characters who live on the periphery of society. Lucia Rijker discusses what it's like to actually be a professional boxer and how she was able to draw from her many personal boxing experiences. "Scrap" Freeman also appears offering some insight as the level headed pal who brings balance to his relationship with Frankie. Duration: 19:11 minutes.
    [*] The Producers' Round 15 is a short featurette which focuses on the details of the project getting off the ground. Albert S. Ruddy discusses his initial feelings upon reading the script for the first time. Paul Haggis talks about his involvement and the collaboration with Albert Ruddy. Tom Rosenberg goes into detail discussing why he wanted Swank to play Maggie, more than anyone else. Duration: 13:02 minutes.
    [*] Perhaps the best of the three featurettes is James Lipton Takes on Three which is a roundtable discussion featuring Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank and Morgan Freeman who appear fresh on the heels of the Oscars as the trio proudly show off their well-deserved hardware. All of the participants seem fairly relaxed and they all are fairly candid with their responses. A number of interesting questions are asked and answered including the initial expectations of the film to the various styles of acting in the film. Did you know that Morgan Freeman was a serious dance student...? Duration: 24:44 minutes.


    Disc Three

    The final inclusion (at least with the Deluxe Edition) is the C.D. Soundtrack from the film composed by Clint Eastwood. This was orchestrated and conducted by Lennie Niehaus conducting the Hollywood Studio Symphony. The disc features twenty tracks and clocks in at 35 minutes. As was the case with the Mystic River set, I enjoyed the disc and found the score to be perfect in its ability to evoke just the right emotion. In terms of fidelity, the disc sounds terrific and spacious as I gave the MartinLogans a thorough workout.

    Special Features: 4/5
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    **Special Features rated for the quality of supplements, not the quantity**



    Final Thoughts:
    Without digging too deeply and putting all politics and "business favors" aside, it's been a long time since the Academy awarded the best picture, the Best Picture. As much as I liked Mystic River (another film I thought should have secured one of those fancy little statuettes), Million Dollar Baby is Eastwood's pièce de résistance - the crown jewel in his filmography. The film centers around a young woman who's never been afforded the breaks many of us get in life - a woman who lives and realizes her lifelong dream. The film is emotionally powerful, lacking the syrupy, saccharine clichés of many of today's contemporary films. Million Dollar Baby is the complete package containing subtle humor as the characters are developed, compassion for likeable characters we pull for and pathos as our likeable characters come to terms dealing with reality. While some directors lose their way over time, clearly, Mr. Eastwood is finding his and this film solidifies his place as one of, if not the greatest living American directors today.

    Aside from the C.D. in the Deluxe Edition which I thoroughly enjoyed, I felt the special features were rather lackluster - however, and not for a minute would I consider holding back my highest recommendation for what I consider the best film produced in years. Aside from the film itself, the presentation is superb and is a perfect representation of my theatrical experience. If you budget for only one new release of the year, consideration should be given to Million Dollar Baby. I can't imagine this set not making my 2005 Top 10 List.

    Overall Rating: 5/5 (not an average)
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Very Highly Recommended...!!!




    Release Date: July 12th, 2005
     
  2. MikeEckman

    MikeEckman Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2001
    Messages:
    1,085
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good review. As with Mystic River, I have no interest in the soundtrack, so the 2 disc version, here I come! [​IMG]
     
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    215
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    Thanks, Herb. I can't wait for Tuesday to roll around.


    And he was in The Electric Company! Did James Lipton make his usual request for a demonstration?

    - Steve
     
  4. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2002
    Messages:
    2,219
    Likes Received:
    1
    Just a question, why is there an extra disc with only 45 minutes of material on it? Seems like a waste, or a marketing gimmick.

    I loved the film, but in all honesty, I would still buy it if it was film only. The extras don't seem all that spectacular. And doesn't James Lipton sort of cheapen the whole thing?
     
  5. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Which were the other 24? [​IMG]

    Those screen caps looks terrific... and greenish? The film I saw was blueish. But of course it could be any number of factors, including my monitor.

    --
    H
     
  6. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Messages:
    2,598
    Likes Received:
    0
    Real Name:
    Paul McElligott
    Better there than on the main disk, chewing up valuable bitrate.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    30,429
    Likes Received:
    5,701
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Yeah, ole Clint has come a long way from my childhood days of watching him as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. Anyhow, I loved this film which I've seen three times in a movie theater. A definite buy for me and one of those rare films that stays with you for a long time after viewing. Great job on the review!






    Crawdaddy
     
  8. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,959
    Likes Received:
    1


    My thoughts exactly. ...and to be fair, it's a lot closer to an hour than 45 minutes. My biggest problem is the apparent lack of a commentary track. Commentaries are generally my favorite bonus feature, and I'm disappointed in the lack of one here. If there was one included, I might splurge and buy the 3-disc set, but as is, I'll pick up the 2-discer.
     
  9. Doug Wallen

    Doug Wallen Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2001
    Messages:
    2,685
    Likes Received:
    677
    Real Name:
    Doug Wallen
    i really enjoyed this in the theater and am looking forward to getting this. i am getting the two disc version.
     
  10. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 1999
    Messages:
    8,050
    Likes Received:
    327
    Location:
    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    Great review Herb. [​IMG] So glad to hear this wonderful film got the dvd treatment it deserves.

    Eastwood is incredible. Can't wait for Tuesday and really can't wait for the soundtrack. I've been intrigued by this since the press release. [​IMG]
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 1999
    Messages:
    11,021
    Likes Received:
    684
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Aaron Silverman
    Great review as always, Herb!



    Commentaries are my favorite, too, but -- if there was one here, then it would be on disc 1. Why would it make you want to buy the soundtrack CD? [​IMG]
     
  12. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2001
    Messages:
    2,959
    Likes Received:
    1


    I know it doesn't sound like it makes much sense, but the way I look at is that I'll reward the company for making a good DVD, by purchasing the most expensive version.[​IMG]
     
  13. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 1999
    Messages:
    11,021
    Likes Received:
    684
    Location:
    Florida
    Real Name:
    Aaron Silverman
    Well, when you put it *that* way, it makes perfect sense! [​IMG]
     
  14. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 1999
    Messages:
    8,050
    Likes Received:
    327
    Location:
    Monroe, LA
    Real Name:
    Tim Glover
    Good rationale Eric. [​IMG]
     
  15. StevenFC

    StevenFC Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    0
    After getting burned by the EXTREMELY overrated craptacular Eastwood head scratcher "Mystic River", I'll have to see this one on tv before I invest in another Eastwood "classic".

    Here's hoping this one lives up to the hype.
     
  16. Jack _Webster

    Jack _Webster Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think I was alone last year in not liking this one. Very well made and all, but I just didn't care for it too much. Glad they did the DVD proper for everyone else though.
     
  17. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2003
    Messages:
    4,799
    Likes Received:
    1
    Jack, I sort of agree with you.

    Up until the last hour or so, I absolutely hated the movie. In fact, the entire time I sat in the theater I was criticing every scene in my head and thinking about how horrible the direction was. I found it cliched and hammy. The scenes of Hillary Swank jogging down the beach and those shots of her boxing shilouette in the back of the gym punching the bag, the dialogue and manipulative music cues, the fight scenes, even the cinematography. I found it all sappy, contrived and predictable.

    But than the ending came along and totally threw me off and actually redeemed the movie for me. I didn't love it or anything, didn't think it was movie of the year or a brilliant piece of cinematic art, but the last hour or so made it a good film.

    I like how they pulled the focus and altered the entire perspective turning it into a movie that wasn't about boxing. It's too bad the filmmakers or writers weren't as inspired from the getgo. I'll be picking up the 3-discer though... eventually.
     
  18. Andrew Radke

    Andrew Radke Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Messages:
    1,256
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Guelph, Ontario - Canada
    Real Name:
    Andrew Radke
    I'm definitely getting the 2-disc set. I have no use for the soundtrack. I caught this in the theater back in January and couldn't take my eyes off of it. I was definitely presumptuous in assuming this was strictly a boxing film as the twists in the story definitely made me take notice. This was a top-notch film in my opinion and I can't wait to own it!
     
  19. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 1999
    Messages:
    3,150
    Likes Received:
    0
    I bought and saw this movie last week. When the local retailer showed me the two versions, I said I don’t need the 3-disc set and got the 2-disc set. Watched and loved the movie; loved the music too and regretted that I didn’t get the 3-disc set. I went out and bought the score separately.
     

Share This Page