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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Lee Hancock
Cast:
Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Kathy Bates, Jae Head, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon
Writing Credits:
John Lee Hancock, Michael Lewis (book)

Synopsis:
Teenager Michael Oher is surviving on his own, virtually homeless, when he is spotted on the street by Leigh Anne Tuohy. Learning that the young man is one of her daughter's classmates, Leigh Anne insists that Michael - wearing shorts and a t-shirt in the dead of winter - come out of the cold. Without a moment's hesitation, she invites him to stay at the Tuohy home for the night. What starts out as a gesture of kindness turns into something more as Michael becomes part of the Tuohy family despite the differences in their backgrounds.

Box Office:
Budget
$29 million.
Opening Weekend
$34.119 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$248.755 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 128 min.
Price: $35.98
Release Date: 3/23/2010

Bonus:
• “The Real Michael Oher” Featurette
• “Acting Coaches: Behind The Blind Side” Featurette
• “The Story of Big Quinton” Featurette
• “Sideline Conversations” Interviews
• Four Deleted Scenes
• Previews
• Digital Copy/Standard DVD


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EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Blind Side [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 15, 2010)

Here come four words I thought I’d never write: “Sandra Bullock, Oscar winner”. That doesn’t serve as a judgment on her talent. Instead, it reflects Bullock’s film choices. Bullock specializes in romantic comedies, and flicks of that sort don’t get Oscar love.

Inspirational sports-related movies like 2009’s The Blind Side don’t usually earn Academy affection either, but the film was such a hit that Oscar couldn’t ignore it. Blind Side came out of nowhere to become 2009’s biggest sleeper. With a gross around $250 million, it turned into a certified smash.

And it transformed Our Sandy into a serious actor, apparently. Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) grows up with a crack-addicted mom, a deadbeat dad, and a crummy education. He gets to sleep on the couch at a friend’s house for a while but eventually loses that “privilege”.

The pal’s dad does help Mike enroll in a private Christian school, where “Big Mike’s” athletic potential opens doors. However, he finds it awfully hard to fit in there – at least until a wealthy mom-about-town named Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) develops an interest in him. She takes him under his wing and gives him a place to stay as well as someone to care about him.

This motherly tendency goes down a different path when Michael plays for the school’s football team. A true “gentle giant”, Michael lacks the killer instinct to be an on-field force. However, he possesses great protectiveness, and Leigh Anne pushes that button to get him to live up to his potential. We follow Michael’s progress on the field and in real life as he becomes part of the Tuohy family.

Any review of Blind Side written after March 7, 2010, should probably start with the big question: did Bullock deserve an Oscar for her turn as Leigh Anne? In short, no, but that doesn’t act as a slam on her performance, which is pretty good.

Instead, it’s a judgment that the role and the film are so lightweight that it’s tough to view Bullock’s work as really award-worthy. I feel a bit hypocritical when I say that, as I often gripe that the Oscars ignore actors who don’t play Major Roles. It rarely matters how good a performance in an action flick or a comedy is; those actors find it very hard to get Oscar nominations, at least in the lead category; the Academy’s more open to less serious work in the supporting vein.

I don’t judge Blind Side as lightweight because it’s not about war or the Holocaust or whatever. I judge it as lightweight because it’s simply an insubstantial take on its subject. Blind Side bears a strong resemblance to efforts like Remember the Titans and writer/director John Lee Hancock’s own The Rookie.

Absolutely nothing here deviates from that template. I don’t view that as a bad thing, but it does mean the flick lacks a great deal of depth. Much of it just seems too easy. For most of the flick’s running time, we get a simplistic take on its subject, as Michael’s journey comes with precious few obstacles. The story throws in some basic impediments toward the end, but the tone remains fluffy and fairly one-dimensional.

Which impacts upon the characters and thus makes it tough for the actors to rise above the level of the material. Bullock and the others give it their best shot, and they generally succeed. Bullock adds depth to a character who could’ve just been a Tough Southern Mama stereotype. She can’t quite make Leigh Anne a total human being, but again, the script undercuts the character; it doesn’t attempt to develop her beyond a basic level, and Bullock’s best efforts can’t fix that.

Aaron also does nicely as Michael. That role actually receives even less development than Leigh Anne, but Aaron gives him some heart. A good supporting cast fleshes out the rest of the parts well, though I must admit young Jae Head’s SJ is such a broad comedic character that he tends to annoy.

Because Blind Side tells a nice tale and does so in an enjoyable manner, I don’t want to come across as too hard on the film. In truth, it’s a pleasant and effective flick that delivers an uplifting message in an entertaining manner.

But so did Titans, Rookie and quite a few other flicks in this genre, which leaves me somewhat befuddled at the enormous success of Blind Side. I guess it just hit the public consciousness at the right time, as something about it clearly appealed to many people. It’s not like the flick made a skillion dollars right out of the gate and then fizzled ala Twilight: New Moon. Nope - Blind Side took the “slow and steady” approach to its massive box office receipts.

I admire that, as it’s nice to see a small movie like this succeed on its own merits rather than due to hype. Nonetheless, I just wish I could figure out why the audiences embraced Blind Side so much more than other very similar films. This is a professional, enjoyable movie but it’s not one that seems particularly distinguished.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

The Blind Side appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a very good presentation.

No real issues related to sharpness. A few wide shots seemed just a tad soft, but those popped up infrequently. Instead, the vast majority of the movie looked concise and accurate. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws also caused no distractions.

Colors were fine. The movie went with a fairly natural palette that favored a mild golden tint. The hues looked full and rich. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows demonstrated good clarity. I expected a positive transfer and that’s what I got.

One shouldn’t expect sonic fireworks from a drama such as Blind Side, and the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack remained subdued. The mix featured good stereo music and decent environmental information but little more substantial than that. Even the football games lacked much pizzazz; they contributed enough of the requisite material to succeed, but the audio wasn’t memorable. The surrounds played a minor role at best, so don’t expect much from them. A fight/flashback sequence briefly brought those channels to life, but that was about it.

At least audio quality was good. Speech appeared natural and concise, with no problems on display. Music sounded vivid and full, and effects were perfectly acceptable. As noted, they rarely offered anything to make them stand out from the crowd, but they worked fine. I thought this was a pretty average track without any qualities that allowed it to impress.

How did the picture and sound of this Blu-ray compare to the film’s DVD version? Audio was a wash. The soundtrack was so subdued that the extra oomph that often comes with lossless mixes didn’t make much difference; I’d be hard-pressed to hear differences between the two tracks.

The DVD didn’t match up with Blu-ray standards. The Blu-ray provided superior definition and also boasted clearer low-light shots and more engaging colors. It offered a substantial step up in quality.

Although Blind Side earned a jillion bucks at the box office, the Blu-ray doesn’t include a ton of extras. Most of the information comes to us via some featurettes. The Real Michael Oher goes for 10 minutes, two seconds and lets us get some info from the person who inspired the film’s character. I like the chance to see the real deal, but this never becomes a particularly interesting interview. While he seems like a nice guy, Oher is a dull speaker who doesn’t provide much introspection; we don’t really learn anything here that doesn’t come across in the movie.

During the four-minute, 52-second Acting Coaches: Behind The Blind Side, we hear from writer/director John Lee Hancock, producer Molly Smith, actors Ray McKinnon, Tim McGraw, Sandra Bullock and Jae Head, and coaches Philip Fulmer, Tommy Tuberville, Lou Holtz, Houston Nutt, and Nick Saban. The real-life coaches discuss their cameos. Those are some of the film’s most fun moments, and this is a quick but enjoyable piece.

The Story of Big Quinton lasts 13 minutes, 40 seconds and features Hancock, Bullock, Smith, McKinnon, producers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson, actor Quinton Aaron, Aaron’s aunts Mary Martin and Jannie McGoohan, friend/theater director Jomo Kellman, cousins Derrick Smith and Shinasia and Theresa Aaron, uncle Sylvester Martin, boss/friend Roy Winston, friend Wallace Owens, executive producer Tim Bourne, trainer Eric Ciano, and nutritionist Sasha Spencer. Quinton Aaron returns home to tour his childhood New York neighborhood, and we also hear about his casting and work on the film. Though this is a pretty fluffy short, it’s good to learn more about Aaron’s background and how he came onto the flick.

Finally, Sideline Conversations boasts a collection of interviews. These include Sandra Bullock and Leigh Anne Tuohy (5:11) and John Lee Hancock and author Michael Lewis (27:36). The women discuss Bullock’s casting and performance, their interactions, and the Tuohy family’s experiences during the shoot. Hancock and Lewis chat about the original book and its adaptation, story, character and casting issues, and thoughts about the movie’s real-life subjects.

The Bullock/Tuohy piece lacks substance, but it’s fun to see the women together and get to check out the real Leigh Anne. The Hancock/Lewis component boasts more substantial material and provides a good level of detail about the different story/character topics. Both programs deserve your time, but the Hancock/Lewis one is easily the stronger of the pair.

We find four Deleted Scenes that fill a total of seven minutes, six seconds. We get “I’m the Designer” (1:21), “Lunch Ticket” (3:47), “Sizes” (0:25) and “Who Are You Looking For?” (1:33). “Designer” just extends a scene in the final cut, while “Lunch” expands on the science teacher’s attempts to draw him out of his shell. It’s nice that this underdeveloped character gets some more time; the sequence would probably slow the film a little more, but it adds some background. “Sizes” offers a quick comedic beat, and “For” extends Leigh Anne’s attempts to find Michael’s mother. The latter mostly reinforces the scummy drug dealer character; we don’t need more of that to see him as a baddie.

The disc opens with an ad for Free Willy: Escape from Pirate’s Cove. No trailer for Blind Side appears here.

A second disc offers two elements. For one, it provides a standard DVD version of the film. Note that this doesn’t simply duplicate the DVD you can buy on its own; it’s a more barebones affair. It allows fans without Blu-ray capabilities a way to watch the movie until they do take the Blu plunge.

The second platter also includes a digital copy of The Blind Side. This allows you to slap the flick on a computer or portable gizmo. And there you have it!

Why did The Blind Side earn about $250 million at the box office and snare Sandra Bullock an Oscar? I don’t know. While the movie provides enjoyable “feel good” entertainment, little about it stands out from its genre crowd, so I can’t figure out why it struck it so big. The Blu-ray provides very good picture but comes with average audio and supplements. This is an acceptable release for an entertaining but unmemorable flick.

To rate this film, visit the original review of THE BLIND SIDE

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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main