The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Disney - 2005
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 120 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Stephen Dilliane, Peter Firth, Elias Koteas, Josh Flitter
Directed by: Bill Paxton
Music by: Brian Tyler
Written by: Mark Frost based on his book
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 16, 2009
"Some legends are true"
From Walt Disney Pictures comes The Greatest Game Ever Played...the crowd-pleasing underdog epic that's based on an inspirational true story! Young amateur golfer Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf) has nothing but talent and a seemingly impossible dream to challenge the world's greatest player, his idol Harry Vardon. Soon, with the help of his spunky 10-year-old caddy Eddie, Francis boldly breaks down all barriers with a thrilling display of unrivaled drive, skill, and heart...and challenges the golf pro for the U.S. Open Championship!
Anyone who knows me understands my affinity for inspirational stories, especially sports related Cinderella types. The greatest game ever played is just such a story and it revolves around the great game of golf. This is a very human story about a young man named Francis Ouimet who from a very young age felt an attraction to the game that would one day make him famous. Francis grew up in Brookline Massachusetts directly across the street from The Country Club, which would be the setting for one of the greatest games every played. Harry Vardon nicknamed The Stylist grew up poor in the UK's Grouville, Jersey, Channel Islands where as a child he didn't play much golf. By the time he was twenty years old not only was he playing the game but was so good that he turned professional. Six years later he won the first of his record six Open Championships (which is a record that still stands today) and became the games first star attraction.
As Francis grew up he developed a love for golf that grew while he worked at the Club as a caddie. He also took advantage of his time there to learn the game and enhance his skills. He had a natural ability for the game and through the help of others at the club was able to shape and refine his play. In 1913 at age twenty Francis, an amateur golfer, played in the U.S Open Golf Tournament which was held at The Country Club that year. The best golfer's from around the country participated. This particular year was of special interest because British golfer's Harry Vardon and Ted Ray entered. Vardon had won the tournament back in 1900 and the American golfer's hadn't forgotten it. Francis was a big fan of Vardon and his approach to golf. The day before the match Francis found himself without a caddie when another golfer offered his caddie more money. Francis located a friend to replace him however the next morning right before play started he found that his friend didn't show but was replaced by his 10 year old brother Eddie instead. With nowhere else to turn he accepted Eddie's pleas to allow him to caddie for him. The tournament got under way and the last day of regulation play found Vardon, Ray and Francis in a tie that required an 18-hole playoff to decide the winner. Reminiscent of some of history's greatest upsets Francis beat both men and became the first amateur to win the U.S Open.
I first saw this movie on cable TV a few years ago and found it to be intriguing. I had never heard of this story, Francis Ouimet or Harry Vardon. I play golf and while I don't follow it religiously I have some knowledge of its best players both past and present. Francis was never a professional but his contribution to the game cannot be understated. Harry Vardon was truly a pioneer of the sport. Unbeknownst to me I use the Vardon overlapping style grip which was originated by him and is used predominantly by both professionals and amateur players today. He was the first golfer to wear Knickers as well as popularizing other styles of dress and maintaining an outwardly professional demeanor/persona that enhanced the image of the sport. He was a student of the game and studied it to find ways to improve upon his play. Some of this is lightly touched upon in the film. Francis Ouimet is considered by many to be the father of golf in America. The film focuses on Francis' life at home with his family and the internal struggle that he endured with his father's aversion to Francis playing golf. I really appreciated how it depicted the parallel lives of Ouimet and Vardon as they struggled for acceptance in the snobbish golfing community that existed at that time. The tournament play sequences were exhilarating to watch. The establishment of the relationship between Eddie and Francis as well as the bond that forms between them (which would last until Francis' death) was by itself nearly worth the price of admission. The ending is emotionally stirring and tastefully done. Director Bill Paxton does a great job in capturing the essence of what was probably the first true underdog story in American Sports.
The rating is for brief mild language.
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)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The greatest game ever played comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
This high definition presentation boasts bold, vibrant and slightly exaggerated primary colors that are tonally rich and have eye catching presence that looks succulent in high definition. Contrast is boosted slightly which overdrives whites during certain segments but otherwise empowers the bright colorfully rich exterior sequences. Images are cleanly resolved and exhibit excellent delineation with crisp refinement and appreciable dimensional perspective during long range camera pans. Shadow detail is strong and blacks are deep but stability can vary which sometimes left them appearing a little flat. This was scene dependent and honestly didn't infringe upon fidelity but I wanted to mention it. I also noticed that some scenes softened a little but it was obvious that this was innate to the photography but again it is worthy of note. Those few nitpicks aside this is a well rounded and rather pristine video presentation that occasionally offers eye popping visuals that enhance its theater like quality.
The DTS-HD Master Audio sound was equally impressive as its potent dynamics and engaging surround sound proved to be quite involving. This is a fairly aggressive surround mix for a character driven film like this. It makes use of lots of front to rear pans that simulate a three dimensional effect as the golf ball is driven from the tee directly into the camera. This is underscored by rhythmic low frequency energy that grows in tactile strength as the balls draws closer to the camera. Front and rear soundstage integration is excellent as the effects are seamless and the levels are proportionately appropriate based upon their onscreen correlation. Brian Tyler's rousing music score features clearly distinct instrumentation that occupies the front soundstage with discernible foundation, well balanced rear channel ambience and strong percussive transients that offer deep, palpably rich bass that spreads throughout the listening area. Dialogue is definitive and appreciably lucid through the center channel as it reaches far into the room. It's located just slightly in front of the left/right speakers within the acoustic space it occupies in the soundfield. I never had any trouble distinguishing even the slightest changes in the pitch or inflection in voices. Front channel separation and imaging is excellent. Surround activity is prevalent as the many sounds of the game, music, and exterior venues are played back with appreciable spatial dimension that create an enveloping atmosphere in the rear of the room. I had a blast and thought it sounded great.
- Filmmaker's audio commentary - Two tracks that include one by Director Bill Paxton and the other by Writer Mark Frost
- A view from the gallery: On the set of The greatest game ever played - 15 minute featurette
- Two legends and the greatest game - 6 minute documentary
- From caddie to champion: Francis Ouimet - 25 minute 1963 interview by Fred Cusick
The greatest game ever played, is the incredible true story of Francis Ouimet, the twenty year old who defied the odds to become the 1913 U.S. Open Golf champion. He would go on to become an ambassador of the sport whose name is mentioned among the legends of the game. It is an inspirational and uplifting story that is well presented in this film by Director Bill Paxton and stars Shia LaBeouf and Stephen Dillane. Disney continues their consistency in the high quality of their Blu-ray Disc release titles as this looks great and sounds even better. The bonus features aren't numerous but what they lack in quantity they make up for in quality. The audio commentaries and documentary pieces are excellent. If you haven't seen this film this is a great time to pick it up or give it a rent.
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