The Boys in the Boat Blu-ray Review

3 Stars Good underdog story
The Boys in the Boat Review

The Boys in the Boat, directed by George Clooney, arrives on Blu-ray from MGM and distributed by Warner Bros.

The Boys in the Boat (2023)
Released: 25 Dec 2023
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 123 min
Director: George Clooney
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Callum Turner, Peter Guinness
Writer(s): Daniel James Brown, Mark L. Smith
Plot: A 1930s-set story centered on the University of Washington's rowing team, from their Depression-era beginnings to winning gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
IMDB rating: 7.0
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Warner Brothers
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DD, English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 2 Hr. 3 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Blu-ray eco keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 06/25/2024
MSRP: $34.98

The Production: 4/5

George Clooney’s The Boys in the Boat is based on the non-fiction novel by Daniel James Brown and tells the story of a junior varsity rowing team from the University of Washington who, in 1936 during a deep depression and the world on the edge of waging a second World War, came out of nowhere to compete in the Berlin Olympics that year. While the story is rather predictable (is someone really going to make a movie about an Olympic team that loses to Nazi Germany?), the film follows two main characters – down on his luck Joe Rantz (Callum Turner from Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air) who is living in an abandoned car in a junkyard and is about to be thrown out of the University for failing to pay his tuition, and Coach Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton) who is coming off a disastrous rowing season hoping to shake things up and defeat rival University of California Berkley. Joe first hears about the rowing team from fellow classmate Roger Morris (Sam Strike) and that it includes room and board. What the two young men don’t realize is that they have no experience in this demanding and grueling sport and that there are only eight slots open with nearly a hundred candidates. Joe and Roger beat the odds, making it to the JV team, and with some tough coaching the JV team manages to surpass the varsity team. But they still have some stiff competition from other University teams, yet still manage to secure a spot to represent the United States in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, that is if the team can come up with the necessary $5,000 in expenses.

Director Clooney (who does not appear in the film) has gone with a nostalgic and old-fashioned style and pace in telling this story that some may find meandering. I found it rather refreshing. Helping move the story along are the performances, including a love interest for Joe with fellow student Joyce Simdars (Hadley Robinson), a girl he’s had a crush on since childhood who also helps him stay awake in class after grueling training sessions with the team. The period score by Alexandre Desplat also helps to keep the audience engaged in the story.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Boys in the Boat was a digital production shot mostly with Sony Venice and Z Cam E2-S6G cameras, both of which have a maximum capture resolution of 6K. IMDB does not list what the native and completed resolutions were for this production, but I am going to assume it was completed as a 4K digital intermediate. The 1080p AVC encode on this disc is exceptional, with no noticeable compression artifacts. Overall, the film has an intentionally soft and desaturated look that captures the period and mood of depression-era America, yet fine detail does reveal intricate facial features and fabric textures in close-ups. Contrast is adequate, with black levels only able to achieve dark grey, likely an artistic choice, with no visible crush. The transfer won’t blow your socks off, but it was never intended to.

Audio: 4.5/5

The disc defaults to a nice Dolby Atmos mix (with Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core). This is a very subtle mix with nice surrounds during large classroom and crowd scenes, maintaining a wide front soundstage throughout. Heights are used very sparingly and are barely noticeable except in sequences that require extra depth. LFE is also quite sparse, but there really aren’t any sequences that would benefit from it, other than to provide some low-end assistance to the score. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 0.5/5

This is yet another barebones MGM release thru Warner Bros. that only includes a code to redeem a digital HD copy on Fandango at Home.

Overall: 3.5/5

George Clooney’s The Boys in the Boat may have received a bad rep at the box office, earning only $55.4 million worldwide on an estimated budget of $40 million, but is still a rather enjoyable two hours.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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