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Waiting For Superman (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
attachment.php?attachmentid=201906&d=1297710030
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

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

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

83






Studio and Year: Paramount - 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 111 minutes
Genre: Documentary

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


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
Directed by: Davis Guggenheim
Music by: Christophe Beck
Written by: Davis Guggenheim & Billy Kimball
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 15, 2011







"The future is in our classrooms"



Film Synopsis:

From the Academy Award-winning Director of An Inconvenient Truth comes the groundbreaking feature film that provides an engaging and inspiring look at public education in the United States. Waiting for Superman has helped launch a movement to achieve a real and lasting change through the compelling stories of five unforgettable students such as Emily, a Silicon Valley eighth-grader who is afraid of being labeled as unfit for college and Francisco, a Bronx first-grader whose mom will do anything to give him a shot at a better life. Waiting for Superman will leave a lasting and powerful impression that you will want to share with your friends and family.



My Take:

Waiting for Superman analyzes the failures of American public education by following several students through the educational system. It features interviews from education professionals who expound upon the statistics, people, and shortcomings our once pioneering public school system. The film closely follows Daisy, an L.A. fifth-grader; Francisco, a Bronx, first-grader; Anthony, a Washington D.C. fifth-grader; Emily, an eighth-grader in Silicon Valley; and Bianca, a Harlem kindergartner. We see their families, living conditions and hear from them directly about their dreams, fears and what they hope to get from a good education. Listening to the perspectives of education innovator Geoffrey Canada, proactive Washington DC school chancellor Michelle Rhee, and AFT president Randi Weingarten was very telling. I felt for the parents of these children who struggled in their attempts to find a means to access/afford better educational opportunities. Watching them suffer through the lottery process hoping for a slim chance at getting into a charter school was sad.

Those of us who haven't been through it can't imagine how frustrating and ultimately disappointing it must be to feel as though you can't provide your child with every opportunity in life, especially if they are willing and able. Raising my children in a rural environment we were able to choose the location of our home based upon what we knew to be a good school district. Looking at today's fiscal crisis and the cuts we are seeing to local education I am not so sure about the continuing quality of learning in our own classrooms. In the case of this documentary's representative group the shocking reality is that most of these children will be barred from a chance at what was once taken for granted, a great American education. I watched this with my wife and we were both moved by it and found the statistical data to be eye opening. Waiting for Superman is both relevant and poignant especially for young families but we all need to be aware of its significance as it directly pertains to our future.



Parental Guide:

The rating is for some thematic material, mild language, and incidental smoking.






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: 78



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

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

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

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



Video: 88


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


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

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

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

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

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

Waiting for Superman comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.8 Mbps.

This is a great looking high definition presentation that boasts lifelike detail, vivid colors and natural looking fleshtones. Resolution can be rewarding as images are resolved cleanly and exhibit excellent depth and dimension. Blacks aren't inky but appear a deep shade of black when onscreen with mixed light/dark elements. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack won't test the limits of your surround sound system but sounds fine. The narrated segments and recorded dialogue during the various interviews is crystal clear and definitively rendered. Other than the music score's light ambient bleed to the rear channels the mix remains front oriented. Being a documentary style film there is little call for an active surround mix and to that end I didn't find the presentation lacking in any way.



Bonus Features:


  • Commentary by director Davis Guggenheim & producer Lesley Chilcott

  • (HD) Changing the odds - A five minute look at the challenges students and educators have faced and the implementation of programs designed to change the course of public school education.

  • (HD) Updates - A glimpse at what has changed since the film was shot

  • (HD) A conversation with Davis Guggenheim - 1 minute

  • (HD) The future is in our classrooms - 2 minute message

  • (HD) The making of Shine - 7 minutes

  • (HD) 4 deleted segments:

    1. Keith and Tiffany
    2. Locke High and Steve Barr
    3. Bill Strickland
    4. The Green Family


Final Thoughts:

Waiting for Superman is an eye opening documentary film that presents a compelling analysis of our public school education system. Granted it is told only from the filmmaker's perspective however many of the facts speak for themselves. I found this film to be both relevant and poignant especially for young families however we all need to be aware of its significance as it directly pertains to our future. It is captured and related well by director/co-writer Davis Guggenheim and comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring audio/video quality that justly conveys the essence and spirit of this undertaking quite naturally. The bonus supplements are limited but play well within the scope of this film and are worth checking out. Highly Recommended.









attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





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post #2 of 14
Good review and i'm glad you enjoyed the film. One comment that I found interesting was from Rick Ayers, Adjunct Professor in Education at the University of San Francisco.

He writes:

"The film dismisses with a side comment the inconvenient truth that our schools are criminally underfunded. Money's not the answer, it glibly declares. Nor does it suggest that students would have better outcomes if their communities had jobs, health care, decent housing, and a living wage. Particularly dishonest is the fact that Guggenheim never mentions the tens of millions of dollars of private money that has poured into the Harlem Children's Zone, the model and superman we are relentlessly instructed to aspire to."
post #3 of 14
If money was the answer, we'd have the smartest kids on the planet.

My experience is that more of our education tax dollars go towards administration and facilities than to the classroom.

Most teachers to an excellent job and exert a greater effort than their pay scale rewards.

Parents fail, in many communites, to support the importance of education and the dying middle class has removed much of the incentive for people to seek a better life through good stable employment.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by stepyourgameup View Post

Good review and i'm glad you enjoyed the film. One comment that I found interesting was from Rick Ayers, Adjunct Professor in Education at the University of San Francisco.

He writes:

"The film dismisses with a side comment the inconvenient truth that our schools are criminally underfunded. Money's not the answer, it glibly declares. Nor does it suggest that students would have better outcomes if their communities had jobs, health care, decent housing, and a living wage. Particularly dishonest is the fact that Guggenheim never mentions the tens of millions of dollars of private money that has poured into the Harlem Children's Zone, the model and superman we are relentlessly instructed to aspire to."

It's funny. I logged back into this review thinking to myself, "Self, I wonder how long it will take before someone strays from the largely technical aspect of Ralph's reviews and injects their own political pontifications or those of someone they agree with in an attempt to convict the unwashed internet masses that their political leanings are the correct leanings?"

First reply. Typical. At least Godwins Law didn't hit this thread that quickly.

Thanks for the review Ralph.
post #5 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veeper View Post

It's funny. I logged back into this review thinking to myself, "Self, I wonder how long it will take before someone strays from the largely technical aspect of Ralph's reviews and injects their own political pontifications or those of someone they agree with in an attempt to convict the unwashed internet masses that their political leanings are the correct leanings?"

First reply. Typical. At least Godwins Law didn't hit this thread that quickly.

Thanks for the review Ralph.

I didn't inject my own political anything. I quoted someone else's pontifications as a counterpoint.
post #6 of 14
Quote:


Parents fail, in many communites, to support the importance of education and the dying middle class has removed much of the incentive for people to seek a better life through good stable employment.

Spot on analysis.
post #7 of 14
A nice find. I watched it, and it had alot of good points.

Not to get all political, but my kids went to a charter school that ran from K-8. Now they are in public school and are in the honors track.

I don't think the difference is the teachers. I hate to say this, but I think the difference is the parents. When I had my kids in the charter school, I was required to volunteer at the school 4 hours per month. It gets you invested in your childrens education. People are so busy making ends meet that they do not make time for one of the most importants parts of their kids upbringing... education. Parents need to be involved. Involved means going over your kids homework. Getting to know the teachers. Finding ways to volunteer in the school.

In the public school, it is harder to get involved, but I make sure that I go to every event at the school. I try to get my kids to get into things like the play. And when they do, I volunteer in those.

Most people do not want to hear this, but the reason that many of our kids are behind is the parents fault.. not the teachers.

That being said, I do not believe teachers need to be overpaid. I am in an area where the unions have forced the district to start them at 50K and retire making 100K+ with a guaranteed pension and tenure. I think schools should be run like a business. You are paid on performance and not or seniority. You do not want to get into a situation where people go into teaching for the money.

PS: Though I may not sound like it with this view, I am a liberal democrat. I am also single Dad raising two kids and only making 50K per year working 40-50 hours per week, going to school to earn a Computer Science degree, and still finding time to volunteer. Their mom decided to opt out of being a parent. If I can do it, a traditional family where even both parents are working should be able to.
post #8 of 14
I thought the movie was kind of boring... but it did bring up some good points. I myself attended inner city public schools in NYC through 9th grade, so can relate. But I also do not have kids, maybe that's why I'm not as passionate on the topic. But still a good documentary.
post #9 of 14
Great review Ralph. I don't have the answer to this problem (but do have some suggestions), but agree that parents make a huge difference because if there isn't someone at home pushing kids to study, they most likely won't. What's sad in this case is all of the kids portrayed had parents who cared, but they still don't get a shot at a good education because some don't win the "lottery."

I like how the director pointed out that our school spending has increased 250% (adjusted for inflation) over the last 40 years, but we are delivering the same results. Money surely isn't the answer. There are way too many chiefs, that's for sure: The Department of Education, State Board of Education, County Board of Education, City Board of Education, and then the school district office. Talk about inefficient!
post #10 of 14
This film continually compares the US school system to one of the best in the world - Finland.

Yet they never say the obvious - LET'S JUST DO WHAT THEY DO IN FINLAND!!!!

Sadly, they only tell us that unions are the problem and privatization is the solution, even though charter schools have worse results than public schools.

Now what do they do in Finland? They have a 98% unionization rate, and non-educators are barred from making decisions regarding education.

Also, small class sizes.
post #11 of 14
Finland has only 5 million people, the US has over 300 million. Furthermore, they don't have the immigration issues our country has with divergent cultures running around. 92% of the population speaks one language (Finnish). In the USA, only 82% of the people speak English as their primary language, which really skews the numbers.
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn View Post
Finland has only 5 million people, the US has over 300 million.
... and China has a billion more.
And always beats the US in math competitions.

Now what? Should we talk broadband or cell networks?

Diogen.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by diogen View Post

... and China has a billion more.
And always beats the US in math competitions.

Now what? Should we talk broadband or cell networks?

Diogen.

In China they speak one language, that isn't the case here. If we required English as the only language, kids wouldn't be confused. Frankly, our biggest issue is we dumb down all of our kids and teach to the lowest common denominator. We spend billions on special education to try and get mentally retarded kids to get up to grade level instead of taking our best and brightest and give them an exemplary education to make them more competitive with the rest of the world. Hell, kids are getting into college these days and need to take remedial English and math because they didn't learn anything in high school..how sad is that?
post #14 of 14
That's what always surprises me: there is always a simple explanation.
Education:
There are too many of us. China has more? Then we don't speak one language.
An average European speaks twice as many languages.
Not enough money. Or spent the wrong way.
Broadband:
We are too widespread. Norway is worse? Then we are too rural.
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...ea-estonia.ars
Cell
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/n...-slow-lane.ars

And it doesn't look like this is going to get better any time soon.

I believe the explanation is much simpler: attitude.
It has to change first before anything else has a chance...

Diogen.
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