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DISNEY

MOVIE INFO

Director:
James Gartner
Cast:
Josh Lucas, Wes Brown, Patrick Blanchard, Emily Deschanel, Mehcad Brooks, Tatyana Ali, Jennifer Cotton, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Samuel Garland, Brett Rice, Tyler New, Austin Nichols, E.J. Nolan
Writing Credits:
Chris Cleveland, Bettina Gilois

Tagline:
Winning changes everything.

Synopsis:
40 years ago, Don Haskins went on the recruiting trail to find the best talent in the land, black or white. 7 blacks and 5 whites made up the legendary 1965-66 Texas Western Miners. They were mocked and ridiculed for their showboating and flaunting of black players on the court. Yet, in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, Haskins and his Miners came together as a team united to reach the National Championship game against powerhouse Kentucky.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$16.927 million on 2222 screens.
Domestic Gross
$42.643 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 118 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/6/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director James Gartner and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
• Audio Commentary with Writers Chris Cleveland and Bettina Gilois
• “Legacy of the Bear” Featurette
• “Surviving Practice” Featurette
• “In Their Own Words” Featurette
• Music Video
• Deleted Scenes
• Sneak Peeks


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Glory Road (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 1, 2006)

Why does the subject of 2006’s Glory Road leave me with a sense of déjà vu? It offers a tale of an underdog sports team that overcomes the odds. Why do I feel like I’ve seen that movie 1000 times?

Probably because I have. It’s an old tale, but I’ll try not to hold that against the film itself. After all, if a flick needed to be totally fresh and creative to become enjoyable, very few movies would succeed.

Set in 1965, Road introduces us to Don Haskins (Josh Lucas), the coach of a female high school basketball team. He gets an offer to take over the men’s team at Texas Western College in El Paso. The job doesn’t pay much and it’s a neglected program, but Don’s willing to make sacrifices to teach Division I basketball.

With such a bare cupboard, Don struggles to recruit players. This means he takes a radical tactic for the south: he takes on seven black players. This doesn’t sit well with many folks, and a lot of tension arises among the newly integrated teammates. Nonetheless, it pays off on the court. Don runs a tight ship that whips the players into shape and eventually leads them all the way to the NCAA championship game against the lily-white Kentucky team.

Some inspirational sports stories manage to evoke tension because we don’t know how events will unfold. Sure, we can assume that the team will win the big game, but if we’re not familiar with the real matters, we’re left with some uncertainty. That factor benefited flicks like Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights.

Such tension fails to arise during Road. The 1965-66 Texas Western team is one of the most famous in college sports history, so most viewers will already know how the story ends. That factor means that the rest of the movie has to work especially well.

Unfortunately, everything about Road is as predictable and easy to read as its ending. It takes the usual rag-tag bunch and unites them on the path to victory. They encounter the standard obstacles along the way, though I acknowledge the intensity of the racism they confronted adds a layer of depth.

Does Road depict those problems in all their fury? While it doesn’t shy away from them, I think it does soften things somewhat. We see the activities that affected the black players but it never quite hits home like it should. The movie suffers from such a slick sheen that it doesn’t feel as powerful or realistic as it could.

The characters have the usual quirks and generic personality traits but not much more. We get enough to differentiate some of them from the others and that's about it. None of the roles really stands out, and even the coach remains forgettable and generic.

That’s one area that Remember the Titans did well. It put a particular spotlight on two players and used them to illustrate its themes. Road lacks the same focus, so it just gives us bits and pieces of many roles. This leaves it without a real center, and it means we don’t get invested in any of the characters to a substantial degree.

While I can’t call Glory Road a bad film, I do find it to be oddly uninspiring. The true story behind the flick is legendary, and it should provide a real feel-good movie. The slick and superficial manner that Road explores the reality creates a lighter than air experience that fails to deliver anything memorable.

Footnote: be sure to stick through the end credits. There we hear modern interview snippets from the real Haskins, many of the Texas Western players, and Kentucky’s Pat Riley.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5555 Stars Number of Votes: 18
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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