Radio appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie presented a good transfer but not one that stood out as particularly special.
Sharpness mostly seemed positive. Occasional wider shots came across as a little soft and ill defined, but those caused few distractions. Instead, the majority of the flick appeared fairly distinctive and detailed. I saw no issues related to jagged edges or moiré effects, but some light edge enhancement showed up at times. Print flaws seemed essentially non-existent. I noticed a little more grain than normal plus a speck or two, but most of the flick was clean and without defects.
Radio went with a naturalistic palette that seemed fairly well rendered. Colors didn’t jump off the screen, but they seemed acceptably vivid and distinctive. Black levels seemed reasonably deep and dense, but shadows occasionally came across as a little thick. Some low-light situations appeared slightly too opaque, but these usually were fairly clear. Overall, Radio was a good transfer that seemed generally satisfying.
Given the film’s genre, I didn’t expect much from the Dolby Digital 5.1 transfer of Radio, but the audio proved to be surprisingly satisfying. Although the soundfield won’t win any prizes for ambition, it appeared more active and involving than usual for this sort of movie. The forward spectrum boasted a nice and varied sense of environment that created a good feeling of location. Elements were well placed in the front and meshed together smoothly. We even got a little directional dialogue in this accurately detailed soundfield.
The surrounds added a fine tone of atmosphere as well. Not a lot of impressive sequences occurred, though some – like a train that went from front to rear – seemed vividly executed. Mostly the track stayed with general atmospherics, especially at football and basketball games, and these recreated the environment well.
Audio quality was also quite good. Speech consistently came across as natural and concise, with no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music displayed a nice sense of dynamics and range, with crisp highs and warm lows. Bass response proved especially strong for the effects. Those replicated the different elements with detail and distinction, and the low-end parts were quite deep and rich. Though exaggerated, football hits packed a nice punch, and some other bits from the various sports games were similarly solid. Ultimately, Radio presented a find auditory experience.
For this DVD release of Radio, we get a mix of supplements. These open with an audio commentary from director Mike Tollin, who offers a running, screen-specific piece. A chatty participant, Tollin covers many facets of the production. He discusses the flick’s origins, how he became involved with it, locations, adapting the modern world for the story’s period, liberties taken with historical material, casting and working with the actors, various logistical concerns, and many other areas. Tollin seems engaging and involved during this very interesting and informative discussion.
Next we find three separate featurettes. These start with Tuning In: The Making of Radio, a 21-minute and 47-second documentary. It mixes the usual set of movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and interviews. We hear from the real-life Harold Jones, director Tollin, screenwriter Mike Rich, casting director producer Herbert Gains, casting director Margery Simkin, sports coordinator Mark Ellis, and actors Alfre Woodard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Riley Smith, Sara Drew, and Debra Winger. They go over topics like adapting the real tale to film, the actors’ approaches to their roles, and casting. Some interesting tidbits pop up at times, but most of the program seems like generic fluff. We find lots of movie snippets and not a ton of concrete and useful information. It’s not a bad piece, but it seems fairly bland.
After this we get Writing Radio. In this 12-minute and 23-second piece, we get notes from Coach Jones, Tollin, Rich, Ellis, Harris, director of photography Don Burgess, and Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith. We learn of how the Radio story first appeared in SI and how it became adapted for the screen. We hear of Rich’s approach to dialogue and issues connected to rewrites as well as the integration of sports into the tale and character notes. The program provides some minor insights but seems somewhat generic and without great substance.
Called The 12-Hour Football Games of Radio, the final featurette runs nine minutes and 47 seconds. It includes comments from Ellis, Tollin, Smith, Gains, Harris, and Burgess. They talk about the casting and training of the extras who play football players and also go through the issues connected to shooting these scenes. It’s a pretty solid examination of the topic and all the challenges.
The disc presents six deleted scenes. These run between 22 seconds and 110 seconds for a total of six minutes, 27 seconds of footage. Mostly these present cutesy bits with Radio and don’t add up to much. We can watch these with or without commentary from director Tollin. He gives us some good notes about the shooting of the scenes and also lets us know why they got the boot.
Radio opens with a few trailers. We get clips for 50 First Dates, Mona Lisa Smile, Big Fish and Something’s Gotta Give. These also appear in the disc’s “trailers” area along with promos for Radio, Spellbound and Rudy. The DVD ends with Filmographies for director Tollin, writer Rich, and actors Gooding, Harris, Winger and Smith.
Based on the history behind the film, Radio presents an interesting tale. However, the filmmakers strip the story of all life and make it nothing more than a warm and fuzzy piece of feel-good claptrap. The DVD presents generally solid picture plus surprisingly positive audio and a nice roster of extras highlighted by a very good audio commentary. While the DVD of Radio offers the flick in a high-quality manner, the material itself seems bland and poorly constructed, so I can’t recommend this weak film.