Annapolis appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite some good-looking elements, this transfer often remained subpar.
The image displayed more than a few noisy shots. It lacked any signs of source flaws, but it suffered from a grainy impression much of the time. Moderate edge enhancement appeared, and that made the movie look soft and ill-defined on more than a few occasions. Much of the flick was acceptably concise, but too many distractions from softness occurred.
Colors were decent. The movie went with a subdued, somewhat desaturated look that came across fine here. The tones were acceptably defined. Unfortunately, blacks tended to be too dark, while shadows were somewhat thick and murky. Enough of the film seemed attractive to muster a “C”, but I saw many more concerns than I expected from a brand-new transfer.
While nothing special, at least the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Annapolis outdid the visuals. The soundfield came to life mainly during the boxing scenes. We got a few other moderately lively sequences such as a rainstorm, but usually the track stayed with general ambience when it didn’t enter the ring. The fights were reasonably involving as they brought us into the action. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the audio left us with an overall nice impression of the film’s environments.
For the most part, sound quality was positive. Music occasionally came across as a bit lackluster. Some of the score and songs appeared a bit lacking in their low-end. Nonetheless, they usually presented good dynamics, and effects offered solid clarity and range. Speech also seemed natural and concise. There wasn’t anything about this mix that excelled, but it was more than competent.
As we move to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Justin Lin, writer Dave Collard and editor Fred Raskin. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. They go over the project’s genesis and development, its use of sports as a metaphor, cast and crew, and characters and training. We also learn about music, editing and alterations from the original script, research in Annapolis and shooting in Philadelphia, and how the relative inexperience of the crew affected the production.
The guys maintain a light tone throughout the commentary and make their chat a lot of fun. They joke with each other and offer many funny little stories about their experiences. I may not have liked their movie, but their commentary is very enjoyable and informative.
Next come two featurettes. Plebe Year: The Story of Annapolis goes for 11 minutes, five seconds as it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Lin, Collard, producers Mark Vahradian and Damien Saccani, executive producer Steve Nicolaides, technical advisor Scott D. Carson, co-producer Gym Hinderer, and actors James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, and Jordana Brewster. The program looks at the story’s path to the screen and its development, why Lin got the gig, casting and the actors’ training.
You won’t find much concrete information in this puffy featurette. It talks about how special all involved and the project are but doesn’t give us many interesting tidbits. This is a superficial show without much merit.
A 10-minute and 15-second piece called The Brigades includes notes from Collard, Franco, Lin, Gibson, stunt coordinator Nick Powell, director of photography Phil Abraham, and boxing consultant Macka Foley. The program gives us information about the boxing tournament highlighted in the film. We learn a little background about the Brigades and how they mesh within the film. We also find out about fight choreography, training, and shooting those scenes.
Some decent notes pop up here and make this one worth a look. It’s not a deep program, but it’s certainly better than “Plebe Year”. It includes a smattering of good elements and gives us a passable examination of the movie’s boxing segments.
Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of 11 minutes, 55 seconds. “I-Day” (five minutes, one second) is an extended version of the plebe’s first day, while “Cell Phone Montage” (0:55) shows Cole’s initial training session with the new cadets. “Swimming Pool” (1:32) gets into the plebes during a diving exercise and adds a little to the Loo and dshdjksa characters. “Penny Sweating/Risa Thanks Jake” (1:40) follows up on the drill during which Jake bailed out a female plebe, and “Smoker at the Graveyard” (1:02) shows Jake as he mourns his dead mother. “Contagious Sloppiness” (0:47) depicts more of the abuse Cole heaps at Jake, while “Comatose Twins” (0:55) looks at how that character’s suicide attempt motivates Jake. None of these addition seem substantial, as most just reinforce existing notions in a redundant manner.
We can view these with or without commentary from Lin, Collard and Raskin. They give us a mix of production notes as well as let us know why the scenes failed to make the final cut. We find good information here along with some funny comments such as the story about the Philly Teamster who would kill for M. Night Shyamalan.
The disc begins with ads for releases of Apocalypto, Goal! The Dream Begins, and Stick It. In addition, all of these and previews for The Shaggy Dog, and Grey’s Anatomy appear in the Sneak Peeks section.
The script for Annapolis must look like a menu at an Asian restaurant: one from Column A, one from Column B, and so on. It packages overt lifts from other movies into one incoherent, rambling piece of cinematic plagiarism. The DVD comes with good audio and some decent extras, but it suffers from problematic picture. Not that it matters, as even a reference quality transfer wouldn’t prompt a recommendation for this stinker.