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SONY

MOVIE INFO
Director:
Bennett Miller
Cast:
Brad Pitt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt
Screenplay:
Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin

Synopsis:
Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to assemble a baseball team on a lean budget by employing computer-generated analysis to acquire new players.

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$19,501,302 on 2,993 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$75,605,492.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 5/14/2013

Bonus:
• None


PURCHASE @ AMAZON
EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Moneyball [Blu-Ray 4K] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 31, 2015)

With 2011’s Moneyball, we get an unusual sort of baseball film: one focused behind the scenes. In the 2001 playoffs, the Oakland A’s get eliminated by the New York Yankees. Faced with the departure of many notable stars – and the continuing pressure of a limited budget – A’s general manager Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) searches for a new way to improve his team.

While in a trade discussion with Cleveland Indians GM Mark Shapiro (Reed Diamond), Beane notices the influence displayed by player analyst Peter Brand (Jonah Hill). Intrigued, Beane finds out that Brand has developed a variety of statistical analyses to better discern player potential and value.

Beane gloms onto Brand’s ways to figure out how to improve the team within their financial confines. We follow the way their partnership grows and impacts the team during the 2002 season – as well as conflicts that come from those focused on the old ways of player analysis.

Moneyball offers a weird subject to be adapted for the big screen, as the original book focused on statistics and their usage, not the people. A more literal translation would’ve made sense as a documentary but not as a feature film.

While the folks behind Moneyball have done a nice job of developing the dramatic side of things, we still find vestiges of its source, mainly via the way the movie occasionally feels like the analytical argument found in the book. At times, the flick comes across as a cinematic attempt to prove the correctness of Beane’s statistical preferences and to discredit the old scout-based methods.

Fans might want to screen a double feature of Moneyball and 2012’s Trouble with the Curve, as the latter acts like a counterpoint to the former. While Moneyball mocks scouts and traditional techniques, Curve embraces them. I suspect good baseball teams understand the value of both, but movies don’t tend to favor subtleties, so these stories veer toward the “either/or” side of the street.

Because of this, Moneyball can feel like propaganda. It gives us a hamfisted portrayal of scouts as out of touch and doesn’t offer them the credit they deserve. No matter how hard the analytics guys may argue otherwise, competitive sports will never be an exact science; the human factor prevents the true objective use of numbers for all circumstances, even if Moneyball tries to convince us math rules all.

I do enjoy the “inside baseball” aspects of Moneyball. I love the sport and the glimpse behind the scenes – even if heavily fictionalized – can be a blast to see.

In addition, Pitt fills the lead role well. He doesn’t do much to expand beyond his usual onscreen personality, but he gives Beane a good mix of cockiness and humility that suits the chareacter. Given Beane’s path from “can’t-miss” prospect to down-on-his-luck former pro, he needs the slightly beaten down feeling Pitt adds.

I just wish Moneyball managed a less heavyhanded approach – and it’d be nice it favored the facts more than it does. In particular, the movie ignores some key factors in the team’s success such as shortstop Miguel Tejada and starting pitcher Barry Zito. You’d think the MVP and the AL Cy Young winner might’ve had something to do with the squad’s winning ways, but they get nary a mention in Moneyball because they don’t fit the narrative. Zito and Tejada weren’t cast-off spare parts who matched the “moneyball” theme, so they’re non-entities, even if in real life, the A’s season owed a whole lot more to them than to the players we see on display.

In addition, Moneyball takes the somewhat odd approach to its climax, as the team’s 20-game winning streak acts as emotional peak. As awesome as they string of victories may have been, it became meaningless in the long run because no one cares about regular season success.

The 2002 A’s – like every other Beane-run squad – flamed out in the playoffs. Moneyball needs to accentuate the winning streak because it lacks any other climax. Dramatically, this works fairly well, but it still creates an odd “actual ending” to the movie, as Moneyball needs to remind us that the 2002 A’s flopped in the playoffs.

All of this leaves Moneyball as an entertaining but flawed sports drama. Honestly, it feels like an update on Bad News Bears much of the time. Moneyball keeps us entertained but doesn’t work as well as I’d like.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus F

Moneyball appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the film’s second Blu-ray release, it comes as part of Sony’s “Mastered in 4K” line. What the heck does that mean? Here’s what Sony’s press release promises us:

“’Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray releases will feature titles sourced from pristine 4K masters and presented at high-bitrate 1080p resolution, with expanded color showcasing more of the wide range of rich color contained in the original source. When upscaled via the Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs, these discs serve as an ideal way for consumers to experience near-4K picture quality. ‘Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray Discs can be played on all existing Blu-ray Disc players.”

Old DVD fans will remember Sony’s “Superbit” program, as it came with similar promises. Superbit DVDs and “Mastered in 4K” BDs jettison all supplements to theoretically optimize picture/audio quality.

The image consistently satisfied. Sharpness was always strong, as the movie displayed solid definition. No obvious signs of softness materialized, so we got a tight, accurate presentation here. I saw no issues with jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Print flaws also didn’t pop up, so the movie stayed clean and clear.

In terms of colors, Moneyball tended toward a somewhat green feel. Given the A’s uniforms, that made sense, but other scenes still gave us a mild green/teal tint. This wasn’t heavy and it made sense within the film’s design parameters. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows offered nice clarity and smoothness. Everything satisfied in this strong transfer.

Don’t expect much from the subdued DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Moneyball. Still, the soundfield opened things up to a moderate degree. Music showed nice stereo presence, and the soundscape broadened when appropriate. This mostly meant ballgame scenes, as the track featured good use of the side and rear channels to recreate the stadium atmosphere. This was a restricted mix, but it was satisfying.

Audio quality was good. Speech appeared natural, and the lines never demonstrated intelligibility problems. Music was dynamic and lively, as the score showed nice range and delineation. Effects were also accurate, with nice clarity. The breadth of the soundfield wasn’t special enough to rate anything above a “B-”, but I thought the track suited the film.

As stated earlier, the 4K line leaves out any extras. Among other items, deleted scenes and featurettes get the boot here.

Part drama, part propaganda, Moneyball entertains despite its flaws. I’m not wild about its factual liberties and ham-fisted ways, but with a talented cast and a fun premise, the movie works reasonably well. The Blu-ray provides excellent picture along with fairly good audio but it lacks any supplements. Despite some flaws, Moneyball mostly entertains.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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