The Greatest Game Ever Played appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No notable problems emerged via this transfer.
Sharpness looked good. A smidgen of softness crept into some wider shots, but the majority of the flick offered nice definition and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering created no distractions, and I witnessed no signs of source flaws or edge enhancement.
The somewhat nostalgic, stylized palette of Game favored greens and golds. These weren’t truly realistic, but they seemed well fleshed out given the movie’s production design. The colors always were concise. Blacks seemed acceptably strong, and most low-light shots were clean and smooth. A couple of them were a little dense, but those caused no problems. This was a consistently satisfying image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Game was also fine. It boasted a reasonably active soundfield. Actually, it became too lively at times due to those distracting elements I mentioned in the body of the review. With booms and swishes, the movie showed too many auditory gimmicks.
Despite those, the soundscape remained pretty positive. Louder scenes like storms presented nice spread around the spectrum, and the mix also demonstrated a very good sense of atmosphere. The many outdoors shots opened up matters well and made this a fairly encompassing track.
No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music was crisp and full, and effects showed good range. Low-end was deep and clear, and the elements offered fine accuracy and precision. The mix ended up as a good one.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray Disc compare to those of the original DVD? I felt that both offered pretty similar audio; the lossless DTS-HD track might’ve been a little more dynamic, but the two remained a lot alike.
As for the visuals, the Blu-ray provided the usual improvements that come with the format. I’d guess that both the Blu-ray and the DVD used the same transfer, but the increased resolution meant the Blu-ray was tighter and better defined. It’s not a remarkable improvement, but the Blu-ray gave us a good little step up in visual quality.
Two audio commentaries launch the disc’s extras, all of which repeat from the DVD. The first track features director Bill Paxton as he offers a running, screen-specific piece. Though he offers some good notes, his gushing tone makes this track a little tough to take.
Paxton gets into many of the usual issues. He chats about cast and performances, sets and locations, storytelling and visual decisions, effects, and adaptation choices. Paxton maintains a peppy attitude and reveals fun facts like how Yellow Submarine and Star Wars influenced Game.
Unfortunately, as I alluded, Paxton’s remarks come with a whole lot of happy talk. He devotes much of the commentary to plain praise for the flick and all those involved. I’m glad he feels so proud of the movie, but this tone gets old. The combination of good facts and fluffy comments mean that this is an informative but erratic track.
For the second track, we hear from writer/co-producer Mark Frost. He also presents a running, screen-specific chat. This commentary more heavily focuses on Frost’s work as writer than producer. He tosses out a few production notes but mostly concentrates on the history behind the movie.
And he does so very well. Frost gives us a great look at the facts of the events depicted in the film. He covers the participants, the situations and the reality of the era in which the story takes place. Frost provides an excellent background and helps flesh out our understanding of the movie.
The disc follows with three featurettes. A View from the Gallery: On the Set of The Greatest Game Ever Played lasts 15 minutes, 23 seconds. It mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits and interviews. We hear from Paxton, Frost, producer Larry Brezner, sequence conceptual consultant Mick Reinman, composer/conductor Brian Tyler, production designer Francois Seguin, costume designer Renee April, CDN PGA golf trainer John Murray, visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi, and actors Shia LaBeouf, George Asprey, Peter Firth, Peyton List, Stephen Marcus, Elias Koteas, Stephen Dillane and Michael Weaver.
They focus on the movie’s visual depiction of golf, the score, production design and period details, costumes, golf training, visual effects, cast and performances, and Paxton’s impact on the production. “View” doesn’t offer an unusually compelling featurette, but it works pretty well. The last few minutes are the only really fluffy ones. They include lots of praise for the cast, director and film. Otherwise we get short but insightful looks at various aspects of the production. These prove reasonably informative.
The six-minute and 51-second Two Legends and the Greatest Game includes notes from Paxton, Frost, and LaBeouf. Frost’s narration dominates the featurette as he gives us an overview of the movie’s characters and situations. This partially acts as a shorter version of Frost’s commentary, though he adds details that don’t appear there. That means this piece is worth a look and gives us some nice notes.
Lastly, a 1963 TV program called From Caddy to Champion: Francis Ouimet goes for 25 minutes and 17 seconds. Hosted by Fred Cusick, we learn about Ouimet’s life and career. We also get to meet the real Ouimet at the age of 70 as Cusick reminisces with him. They get into aspects of golf back in the early days and look over old equipment. Cusick and Ouimet then take a tour of the Brookline course and detail the 1913 tournament.
When I saw the title of this piece, I figured it would be a puffy look at Ouimet that existed mainly to promote the movie. That made the show’s reality a very pleasant surprise. We get a terrific look at the real Ouimet and learn a lot about him. This may be the DVD’s most valuable extra.
A few ads open the disc. We get promos for Morning Light, Blu-ray Disc, Disney Movie Rewards and G-Force. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Race to Witch Mountain, Earth, Hannah Montana: The Movie and Disney XD. No trailer for Greatest Game appears here.
The Greatest Game Ever Played will never be seen as the Greatest Movie Ever Made. It’s simplistic and far too worried about goofy effects. It fails to tale its story in a compelling, dramatic manner. The Blu-ray offers good picture and audio as well as a positive collection of extras. I can’t recommend a movie I don’t like, but I also can’t subject this Blu-ray to much criticism.
Do fans who already own the old DVD need to upgrade to the Blu-ray? Only if they’re really fond of the film. The Blu-ray looks very good, but the DVD offered nice visuals as well. The Blu-ray doesn’t offer a substantial auditory improvement, and it gives us the same set of supplements from the DVD. The Blu-ray’s a good release, but it’s an expensive upgrade.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED