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Blu-ray Review Million Dollar Arm Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

Senior HTF Member
Apr 24, 2006
Charlotte, NC
Real Name
Matt Hough
Million Dollar Arm Blu-ray Review

It's often said that truth is stranger than fiction, but Craig Gillespie’s Million Dollar Arm proves that truth is just like fiction. Telling a true story of two athletes from India struggling to become major league baseball players with no prior interest or experience with baseball, the movie follows the usual pattern with this kind of sports movie about rookies trying to make it: discovery, training and promise, initial disappointment, and final triumph. It’s not that the movie isn’t well made or even engaging, and it certainly brings forth an emotional response, but it’s still connect-the-dots filmmaking all the way with only the hook of the movie’s early Indian locations distinguishing it from other sports films with this same basic premise.

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Studio: Disney

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: PG

Run Time: 2 Hr. 4 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy

keep case with slipcover

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 10/07/2014

MSRP: $39.99

The Production Rating: 3.5/5

With their struggling sports representation agency at death’s door, JB Bernstein (Jon Hamm) and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) have to think outside the box to bring in a lucrative new client or establish a new franchise. They hit on the idea of going to India to try out Indian cricket players to see if any of them have potential to become major league baseball pitchers. They introduce a contest called Million Dollar Arm which awards two top prizes for the two best candidates and then brings them back to America to begin training for the big leagues. After a shaky start, the idea becomes a big reality show in India drawing thousands of potential auditionees. The two top finishers Rinku (Suraj Sharma) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal) have never been away from their towns, but with local interpreter Amit (Pitobash) who loves baseball and who’d love to be a coach one day, they come to America and begin learning about baseball from top trainer at USC Tom House (Bill Paxton). But the training is difficult, there is definite culture clash, and JB, whom both the young guys idolize, is often absent from their workouts because he’s busy trying to keep his agency afloat all the while the deadline for the tryout before scouts from all the top teams plus coverage from ESPN and Sports Illustrated has everyone completely on edge.Tom McCarthy’s script balances the story of the young players’ trials in a new country with the burgeoning romance developing between JB and his guest house tenant Brenda (Lake Bell). While both stories are completely predictable (there are meltdowns both personally and professionally before the happy endings occur), the early scenes in India are beautifully staged and shot by director Craig Gillespie offering the local color of a nation with a billion people all seemingly converging on the protagonists in their early days there and with the accelerating excitement of a potential dream-come-true scenario proving forever appealing. There’s some funny (albeit too brief) stuff with talent scout Alan Arkin as old-timer Ray, though not enough is shown with the transplanted naïve youngsters attempting to adapt to American customs once they get here. While the director tends to stretch out the boys’ final chance before the touts to agonizingly absurd lengths (especially since it was in international headlines in 2008 when all of this actually happened, and the players are still active if one follows baseball), the themes of dedication and commitment come through loudly and clearly.Jon Hamm does right by the flashy role of the dream-big sports agent desperately trying to make his agency successful, and while the script doesn’t offer him possibly enough shades to go from the serial womanizer to the dedicated family man so quickly, he is still appealing in the part. Indian comedian Pitobash steals a great many of his scenes as the eager-to-please interpreter. Familiar faces Suraj Sharma (from Life of Pi) and Madhur Mittal (from Slumdog Millionaire) may not quite have the thickness and size for major league athletes; still, their acting certainly isn’t at fault as they maneuver the ins and outs of their fantasy-becoming-reality stories well. Lake Bell offers a flinty, no nonsense girl friend for JB (their growing attraction becomes obvious when they share a series of Skypes while he’s in India), and Bill Paxton is similarly serious and exacting as the pitching coach who trains the two guys. Tzi Ma is also a stern and demanding taskmaster as the businessman financing JB’s agency during this potentially lucrative enterprise.

Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA

Produced with a mixture of film and digital technology, the 2.39:1 transfer (1080p, AVC codec) is alternately sharp and occasionally soft as a result (long shots can be often surprisingly soft). Color is always true and richly hued with most lifelike skin tones, but contrast occasionally varies, and black levels aren’t always at their deepest. The film has been divided into 18 chapters.

Audio Rating: 4/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix makes the most frequent use of the surround soundstage with the heavy barrage of background music and tunes by Oscar-winning composer A.R. Rahman (along with rap tunes which the guys hear in America). Sound effects get nice spread across the fronts but are sometimes missing prominently from the rear channels. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel.

Special Features Rating: 2.5/5

Training Camp (6:18, HD): actors Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal, neither of whom had ever played baseball, take us through their training regimen getting them ready to portray their real-life counterparts. Their baseball and fitness trainers as well as the real-life Dinesh Patel are also present and add comments to the featurette.Their Story (2:54, HD): the real stories of JB Bernstein, Dinesh Patel, and Rinku Singh are briefly covered by the actual men.Million Dollar Music By A.R. Rahman (2:34, HD): the composer offers some sound bites on his inspirations for his songs and plays a medley of three of them.Deleted Scenes (2:28, HD): three scenes excised from the movie may be played individually or in montage.Alternate Ending (0:49, HD): a second ending that focused on JB instead of the two athletes is played and proves to have been the lesser of the two endings.Outtakes (2:04, HD)Promo Trailers (HD): Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very bad Day, 101 Dalmatians.Digital Copy : code sheet enclosed in the case.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Without offering any astonishing twists and turns to the usual triumphant sports story, Million Dollar Arm nevertheless proves appealing with fine performances and a nicely paced and cleverly appointed production.

Reviewed By: Matt Hough

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Senior HTF Member
May 7, 2001
Orlando, FL
Real Name
I was disappointed more people didn't like Million Dollar Arm-we did-but I also acknowledge it was long and predictable. That's what you get from a Disney movie, right?

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