Sugar (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-26-2009, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373647

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )


Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2008
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 114 Minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): Spanish/Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish
Starring: Algenis Perez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Ellary Porterfield, Michael Gaston, Richard Bull
Written & Directed by: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Music by: Michael Brook
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 1, 2009

"Talent and desire aren't always enough"

Film Synopsis:

A gifted pitcher travels from his home in the Dominican Republic to play minor league baseball in the U.S., where he struggles to adjust to American culture, pressure to perform on the field, and coming to grips with the feeling that only his success can help his family back home.

My Take:

Sugar is the inspirational story of Miguel Santos, a gifted pitcher struggling to make it to the big leagues of American baseball. Nicknamed "Azúcar" (Spanish for "sugar"), 20 year-old Miguel travels from his poor but tightly-knit community in the Dominican Republic to play minor league baseball in the United States - where anything is possible. He finds himself in a small Iowa town, surrounded by corn fields, living with an elderly American couple and coping with the various cultural differences that entails. He comes to realize that he is among many players that are as good as he is and success requires hard work, patience, and maturity. When a close friend is released for lesser quality play, Miguel comes to understand that loyalty may not necessarily be a two way street. Dealing with feelings of isolation, the effects of an injury and struggling after returning to play, Miguel comes to face even bigger challenges in his quest to survive the minor leagues and make it to The Show.

Sugar is a human drama that is not so much a movie about baseball as it is a movie about portrayal of a common experience shared by hundreds of young men who venture from the Dominican Republic striving to be one of the few players to make it to the big leagues. The story is told from a singular point of view and follows Miguel (convincingly played by newcomer Algenis Perez Soto) from the DR to two stops in the U.S. as he tries to adapt not only to life on the field but to the stimulation and pace of his new surroundings. It sends a humbling message that determination and talent aren't always enough to make your dreams come true. This is wonderfully depicted in the finale as a series of talented immigrant ballplayers who tried and failed announce their names and the farm teams they played for. I found it to be touching, honest, and engaging, with an ending that seemed incredibly apropos.

Parental Guide:

The film contains language, brief sexuality, and thematic material that would probably rate it R.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 74

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 82

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

Sugar comes to Blu-ray from Sony Classic Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 1.4 mbps.

This is a nice looking high definition video presentation that features well resolved images that are appreciably detailed which reveals plenty of discernible texture during closer camera shots. The exterior pans of the Iowa farm country are fairly sharp with stable resolution that allows the physical structure of most objects and landscapes in backgrounds to be visible. The film has a visually enticing color palette filled with lush, vivid earth tones that looked beautiful in high definition. Fleshtones are on the warm side but naturally and descriptively rendered. Grain is readily apparent and appears in fine, even layers that give the video a film like quality. White and black levels are appropriately balanced which provides punchy whites and slightly elevated/stable blacks. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack delivers crisp, full bodied dialogue in a mostly frontal presentation that makes little use of the surround channels. There is no low frequency detail mixed to the subwoofer but the soundtrack's elements don't call for it. The blend of music, spoken dialogue and sounds mixed to the front channel speakers is rendered with excellent clarity, and fair spatial dimension. Overall this is an underwhelming surround sound mix that succeeds in clearly rendering the elements present in the recording.

Bonus Features:

  • Making Sugar: Running the bases - 14 minute featurette

  • Play Beisbol!: The Dominican dream - 13 minute featurette

  • Casting Sugar: Interview with Algenis Perez Soto - 4 minutes

  • 5 deleted scenes

  • (HD) Theatrical trailer

  • (HD) BD Previews:

    1. Tyson
    2. Rudo y Cursi
    3. Moon
    4. Whatever works
    5. Soul power
    6. Ghostbusters
    7. A river runs through it

  • BD-Live enabled

Final Thoughts:

Sugar is a evocative film that carries a very real and potentially humbling message regarding the experiences of many Dominican ballplayers who dream of successfully making it to big league baseball in America. It tells the compelling story of Miguel Sugar Santos, a 20 year old from the DR who is high on talent, aspirations and potential. He discovers that the road to his dreams is not paved and that life along its path can be complicated. He learns some tough lessons but meets good people who are willing to help him understand more about life and himself. Sony brings it to Blu-ray featuring a very decent high definition video presentation along with an average compliment of bonus supplements that are highlighted by the Play Beisbol! documentary. I enjoyed this film and highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys a good drama, sports related or otherwise.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-26-2009, 07:40 PM
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I never heard of this movie. With baseball being my number one love, I should give this one a look.

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post #3 of 4 Old 08-27-2009, 06:14 AM
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I've never heard of it either, but I love sports themed films...thanks Ralph! Looks like a good one!
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-01-2009, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by muffinmcfluffin View Post

I never heard of this movie. With baseball being my number one love, I should give this one a look.

You can't afford to miss this flick, if you love baseball, go check it out.
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