Cobb appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The disc presented a generally positive picture.
Overall, sharpness looked good. Occasionally I noticed some slightly soft sequences, but those appeared infrequently. The majority of the flick appeared reasonably accurate and well defined. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering showed up, but some light edge enhancement appeared at times. Print flaws were pretty minor. The occasional speck manifested itself, but usually the movie seemed nicely clean.
The palette of Cobb depended on the setting. Most of the 1960 material displayed a reasonably natural tint, though those sequences tended to favor the brown side of the equation. The occasional shots from earlier in the century were very desaturated and almost black and white. The best tones showed up in the Reno sequences, where we saw some nicely distinctive colors. Within the film’s visual design, the colors generally seemed solid. Black levels appeared deep and tight, and low-light shots were mostly fine. Those sequences could be a little dense, but they mostly appeared clear and appropriately defined. I thought Cobb wasn’t an excellent image, bit it looked good as a whole.
Cobb offered a Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack that seemed fairly mediocre. The soundfield seemed acceptable for this kind of film but it didn’t excel in any way. The material mostly remained in the front channels, where I heard good stereo imaging for the music and a decent sense of environment. Some movement appeared via vehicles and gunshots, but mostly the flick featured a more general feeling of atmosphere. The surrounds kicked in with reinforcement for the most part. A few segments – like Cobb’s Hall of Fame flashback or nightclubs – used the rear speakers more actively, but in general they didn’t play a major role in the mix.
Audio quality was generally decent except for speech. Far too much of the dialogue came across as edgy and rough. The lines always remained intelligible, but the distortion made the material less distinctive than it should for a recent movie. Music was reasonably dynamic and vivid, and the score showed good range. Effects were also clean and accurate, and they didn’t suffer from any of the distortion that marred the speech. The problematic dialogue caused the track’s greatest concerns and led me to knock down my grade to a “C+”.
While not absolutely packed with supplements, Cobb featured a decent roster of components. We find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director Ron Shelton, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. Shelton provided a good discussion of Bull Durham on that disc, and his chat about Cobb mostly follows suit.
In general, Shelton focuses on the facts behind the story. He gets into what’s real and what’s invented and delves into Cobb’s life in a nice manner. He also talks about other involved parties – mostly Al Stump – and gives us a feel for the history of the matter. Shelton doesn’t ignore filmmaking issues, though, as he discusses various topics in that domain and challenges involved. Empty spots appear infrequently and Shelton fills the time with useful material.
In the second commentary, we hear from actors Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Wuhl. Each sits separately and provides his own running, screen-specific track; the two recordings were combined for this piece. Though the commentary starts well, it peters out pretty severely after a while. During the early moments, the actors discuss their roles and their approaches to the characters. Wuhl seems especially entertaining as he lets us know about the real Stump, working with the others, and his reactions to the film’s lack of success. Wuhl comes across with a refreshingly frank tone; he tosses out some good wisecracks and occasionally criticizes his own performance. Jones seems more taciturn during the flick’s early parts, but he opens up somewhat as the commentary progresses.
However, the remarks become somewhat few and far between as we go along. The gaps never become insanely large, but they pop up too frequently and leave us with a lot of dead air. At its best, the actor commentary offers good insight into their work, their subjects, and other related topics. Unfortunately, too many empty spaces mar this piece and make it only sporadically stimulating.
Next we discover a collection of deleted scenes. These run a total of seven minutes and 50 seconds and expand on some of the movie’s elements. The first two are the most interesting. We actually see the woman who leads Stump astray, and we also watch a fairly entertaining segment in which Cobb refuses to take a phone call from Ernest Hemingway.
In addition to the movie’s theatrical trailer, the DVD ends with two featurettes. The Real Al Stump fills 103 seconds and doesn’t give us much. We see Stump on the movie’s set. First he tells us a little about his impressions of things, and then we watch him putter around the place. It doesn’t do much for me. On the Field With Roger Clemens also provides material from the set. In this three-minute piece, Clemens chats about baseball history and his work on the film. We also see Shelton work with him and other snippets from the shoot. The information’s not very useful, but the behind the scenes clips are fun, especially when Tommy Lee Jones tries to hit Clemens’ pitching.
Packed with potential, Cobb collapses as a disappointment. Overacted and generally less than engaging, the movie doesn’t do much to illuminate its subject and feels like a weak attempt at something grand. The DVD provides generally good picture with lackluster sound, but it gives us a surprisingly decent set of extras given the movie’s lack of commercial success. I can’t blame audiences for skipping this one, though, as the whole doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts.