Glory Road appears in both an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not overtly problematic, this was only a good transfer.
Sharpness was mostly solid. At times, wider shots came across as a bit soft, though not terribly so. The movie largely seemed distinctive and crisp. No concerns with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I noticed some mild to moderate edge enhancement. Print flaws were essentially absent. The movie looked a bit grainier than expected, and I saw a couple of specks, but nothing major occurred.
Colors looked vivid and rich throughout the film. Titans featured a fairly stylized palette, and within those constraints, the tones were well-rendered and accurate. Black levels seemed deep and dense, and shadow detail came across as appropriately heavy but not excessively thick. While not stellar, this was a more than satisfactory transfer.
As for the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Glory Road, it featured a mainly forward-oriented soundfield that worked well within those confines. The audio spread neatly to the front side channels and the track created a realistic and moderately lively environment in which the audio blended well and moved cleanly across speakers.
As for the surrounds, they played a moderate role in the production. As a whole, the rear channels tended toward modest reinforcement of the forward track. Road wasn’t the kind of movie that really needed active surrounds, and it used the rears acceptably well. They were reasonably involving during the basketball scenes.
Audio quality appeared strong. Dialogue came across as nicely natural and distinct, with no edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was clean and bright, and effects appeared crisp and accurate. The latter worked especially well during the football games, at which time they showed good clarity and impact. Bass response added decent punch to the mix. Overall, this was a good mix.
A decent roster of extras supports the movie. We find two audio commentaries. The first comes from director James Gartner and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Gartner provides a running, screen-specific track into which Bruckheimer’s remarks are occasionally cut. Don’t expect much from the producer. He pops up infrequently and tells us little. Bruckheimer tends to speak in banal generalities, and that trend continues with his bland notes here.
Happily, Gartner’s observations more than redeem the commentary. He discusses cast, characters and performances, the use of two DPs and the movie’s look, the depiction of basketball games, cut scenes and editing, facts and the film’s liberties, his directorial style, music, sets and locations, and challenges he faced for his first feature. The director proves chatty and engaging. He covers his work with depth and detail as he leads us through the flick. Gartner makes this a valuable commentary.
For the second track, we hear from writers Chris Cleveland and Bettina Gilois. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific piece. They look at the development of their relationship with Don Haskins and how this affected the production. We find out about how the movie progressed to the screen. They go into writing challenges and document the film’s facts and fiction.
After the thorough commentary offered by Gartner, the writers’ piece comes up short. The best parts examine the couples’ interactions with Haskins. Otherwise, we don’t learn much new here, and the couples’ low-key demeanor makes this one slow going. They discuss their passion for the project but don’t demonstrate any; indeed, they’re so laid-back that they sound like a parody of NPR hosts. This isn’t a bad commentary, but it’s not a memorable one either.
Three featurettes follow. Legacy of the Bear runs 13 minutes and includes movie clips, archival materials, and interviews. We hear from Bruckheimer, former coach Don Haskins and his wife Mary, biographer Ray Sanchez, former assistant coach Tim Floyd, executive producer Andy Gaskins, UTEP Heritage Commission chairman Joe Gomez and former college players Antonio Davis, Tim Hardaway, Nevil Shed, Jerry Armstrong, Harry Flournoy, Togo Railey, Willie Worsley, and Pat Riley.
“Bear” examines Haskins’ career. It looks at how the coach came to El Paso and how his time there unfolded. We learn the origins of his nickname and about his coaching style. We also get a little information about the big 1966 championship game.
Inevitably, “Bear” walks down the puffy side of the street. It gives us a moderately glossy look at Haskins. However, it musters some good notes and opens up our understanding of the coach. I’d prefer a longer, more in-depth look at him – too bad he didn’t record a commentary – but “Bear” provides a watchable glimpse of the man.
During the four-minute and 22-second Surviving Practice, Gartner, Bruckheimer, Hardaway, and Don Haskins. The show looks at Haskins’ intense practices and gives us some notes about those. The best parts come from shots that show Haskins as he conducts a faux practice for the actors. Otherwise, we don’t really find anything new here.
Called In Their Own Words: Remembering 1966, the final featurette lasts 23 minutes and 25 seconds. As implied by the title, it focuses on the Miners’ championship season. We hear from Don Haskins, Flournoy, Shed, Riley, Railey, former sports information director Eddie Mullins, and former players Dick Myers, Fred Schwake, Will Cager, Orsten Artis, Louis Baudoin, and David Lattin. “Words” reflects on the Miners from the championship season and gives us details about that year. We hear about the racism the team encountered, the big game itself, reactions to the Miners’ victory and its significance, and memories of late player Bobby Joe Hill.
The parts of the show that look at the championship’s aftermath are the best. It’s very interesting to find out the ramifications of the game and we learn quite a lot about what occurred. As with the other programs, this one is too glossy and superficial. It provides enough decent information to merit a look, though, and it’s definitely nice to get a better look at the real players.
A Music Video from Alicia Keys appears next. Don’t expect a traditional video for “Sweet Music”, though. Keys starts the piece with a few notes about how the song “wrote itself” and then we watch images of her in the studio intercut with movie clips. This makes for a very boring video, and the song itself ain’t much better.
Four Deleted Scenes fill a total of six minutes. These include “Don and Mary in the Gym” (one minute, seven seconds), “Frogs in Orsten’s Bed” (1:22), “Award for Rupp” (1:49) and “Elevator” (1:42). “Rupp” is the most interesting clip as it addresses Rupp’s alleged racism. “Elevator” shows a little more of Rupp as well when Haskins runs into him in a hotel. Both humanize the Kentucky coach a little more than seen in the final film. The others amount to filler moments without much merit.
The DVD opens with ads for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Shaggy Dog, Eight Below and Goal! The Dream Begins. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks along with clips for Annapolis and Stick It. No trailer for Glory Road appears here.
At the heart of Glory Road, we find a truly inspiring true story. Unfortunately, the movie itself buries the tale beneath the usual sports flick clichés and never manages to dig into any real emotion. The DVD presents good picture and sound along with some decent extras highlighted by a very strong director’s commentary. Road makes for a perfectly fine DVD but doesn’t provide a memorable film.