Miracle appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film offered a very good image.
Sharpness looked solid. Some wider shots appeared slightly soft, but those instances occurred infrequently. The majority of the movie looked concise and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I witnessed no signs of edge enhancement. In addition, source flaws were absent, though grain was a little heavy.
To match the color schemes of the late 1970s/early 1980s, the palette of Miracle tended toward the somewhat heavy and slightly garish side. Within those parameters, the colors looked good, and brighter scenes – such as those that favored red, white and blue during games – were bright and lively. Black levels seemed deep, and shadows were clear and smooth. Only the minor softness knocked this one down to a “B+”, as the transfer usually worked very well.
For the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Miracle, we found a positive mix. Not surprisingly, the soundfield remained fairly limited except for during the hockey-related sequences. Outside of the rink, the movie focused on character moments, which didn’t lend themselves to much more than vague ambience. Music always depicted good stereo imaging, but except for the hockey bits and a thunderstorm, the track didn’t do much.
However, the mix came to life pretty nicely when necessary. During the hockey moments, elements moved smoothly across and around the spectrum. The focus remained on the front speakers, but the surrounds added a nice sense of place and dimensionality. Unsurprisingly, the big games became the most active, and they brought the action to us well. It wasn’t a remarkable soundfield, but it did what it needed to do.
Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music was nicely vibrant and dynamic, as the score appeared bright and clear. Effects also seemed accurate and smoothly depicted. Not much about the track challenged the mix, though the hockey sequences added good impact from the body checks and other violent elements. Low-end response was very positive, as score and louder effects demonstrated firm and rich bass. Overall, the audio seemed good and worked well for the material.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray Disc compare to those of the original DVD from 2004? Both areas demonstrated improvements. The sound seemed livelier and clearer, while the visuals were better defined and less murky. The new rendition was a step up from the old DVD.
This set presents a good package of extras, all of which repeat from the 2004 DVD. First comes an audio commentary from director Gavin O’Connor, director of photography Daniel Stoloff and editor John Gilroy. All three sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion. In general, this seems like a good but unexceptional commentary. The participants go into a nice array of subjects. We learn about casting and working with the actors, locations and logistical concerns, visual decisions and storytelling choices, encapsulating history, storyboarding the hockey games and a mix of other subjects. The track moves pretty briskly and the speakers come across as involved and interested. Unfortunately, too much happy talk pops up throughout the film, as we hear a lot of praise for all involved. Nonetheless, Miracle’s commentary mostly seems reasonably informative and engaging.
In addition, we get The Making of Miracle. This 17-minute and 52-second program presents the standard conglomeration of movie clips, archival and behind the scenes snippets, and interviews. We find notes from sportscaster Al Michaels, director O’Connor, director of photography Stoloff, editor Gilroy, producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Cray, casting directors Randi Hiller and Sarah Halley Finn, sports coordinator Mark Ellis, hockey technical advisor Ryan Walter, sound designer Elliott Koretz, co-supervising sound editor Rob Nokes, re-recording mixers Michael Minkler and Myron Nettinga, composer Mark Isham, original players Rob McClanahan and Jack O’Callahan, and actors Kurt Russell, Nathan West, Eddie Cahill, Noah Emmerich, Patricia Clarkson and Eric Peter-Kaiser.
They chat about Russell’s performance, casting and hockey issues, training, depicting the hockey games authentically, photographic considerations, the effect on editing of the massive amount of footage shot, sound design and music, and a visit from the real players to the set. We hear about most of the same topics during the commentary, but the documentary benefits from visuals. It’s good to see game to movie comparisons and other behind the scenes information. While some of the notes seem redundant, enough new material appears to offer a decent look at the film, and the various visuals appear very interesting.
From here we go to From Hockey to Hollywood: The Actors’ Journey. This uses the standard format with movie clips, behind the scenes footage, and interviews and runs 27 and a half minutes. We hear from O’Connor, Finn, Hiller, Ellis, real players Jim Craig, Jack O’Callahan, and Buzz Schneider, and actors Billy Schneider, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, Nathan West, Eddie Cahill, Michael Mantenuto, Eric Peter-Kaiser, Nate Miller, and Chris Koch. They go over the casting, training, biographical information about the performers, and how they fit into their roles. Some of the information appeared in the documentary, but this show goes into more detail about the actors and their training. It’s occasionally fluffy, but it presents a nice layer of depth.
In the collection of Outtakes, we get four minutes and 52 seconds of material. This offers the usual assortment of goof-ups and nuttiness. Don’t expect anything out of the ordinary here.
Next comes a featurette called First Impressions: Herb Brooks with Kurt Russell and the Filmmakers. It goes for 21 minutes and 12 seconds as we hear from O’Connor, Brooks, Russell and others. This presents a pre-production discussion among the above as they chat about Brooks’ methods and history, the team, and a variety of the coach’s thoughts and experiences. Brooks heavily dominates this program, which seems appropriate and a lot of fun. It’s great to hear this material from the horse’s mouth and “Impressions” presents a valuable extra.
After this we find a Miracle ESPN Roundtable. It runs 41 minutes and six seconds as host Linda Cohn chats with Kurt Russell, Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig and Buzz Schneider. They discuss Herb Brooks, the team and its chemistry, the games and the playing style, portraying the real-life personalities, and other elements of the shoot. The conversation consistently seems lively and entertaining. Russell gives us some nice perspective about the shoot, but it’s the players who prove most useful. They toss out lots of good information about their experiences and the reality behind the film, and they help make this a fun and compelling program.
Lastly, we locate a featurette entitled The Sound of Miracle. In this 10-minute and 24-second show we hear from O’Connor, editor Gilroy, supervising sound editor Rob Nokes, re-recording mixers Myron Nettinger and Michael Minkler, sound designer Elliott Koretz, and composer Mark Isham. They get into what they wanted to do with the audio and how they executed those plans. We learn lots of details about the various elements. Overall, it’s an informative and interesting piece.
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 and Disney XD. No trailer for Miracle appears here.
Although the topic naturally lends itself to drama, Miracle tries too hard to force us to feel certain emotions. It lacks depth and comes across as a thin and superficial feel-good flick that fails to deliver any real power. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and sound plus a pretty nice roster of extras. While the disc seems good enough for me to recommend it to fans, the movie itself is a disappointment.
Folks who really like Miracle will want to pursue this Blu-ray. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the picture and audio of the 2004 DVD, but both showed nice improvements here. With a list price of $34.99, it’s not a cheap upgrade, but I think it’s worth it for fans.
To rate this film visit the original review of MIRACLE