Remember the Titans appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although not totally without concerns, as a whole the movie presented a very strong picture.
Sharpness almost always appeared crisp and well-defined. Only a smidgen of softness crept into wider shots. Otherwise, this was a detailed and concise presentation. Unfortunately, some moiré effects appeared as well; blinds, striped shirts and some other objects showed a little shimmering. A bit of light edge enhancement cropped up along the way. Print flaws looked nearly absent. I noticed a speck or two, but that was it during this clean and fresh image.
Colors consistently looked vivid and rich throughout the film. Titans featured a fairly natural palette, and 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. Ultimately, Remember the Titans provided a positive visual experience.
While good, the film’s soundtracks weren’t quite as memorable. Remember the Titans boasted both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes, and I found the two to sound virtually identical. The Dolby track may have provided a smidgen more low end, but otherwise they seemed like clones of each other.
Titans featured a very 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, however, they played a minor role in the production. As a whole, the rear channels offered little more than modest reinforcement of the forward track. If much discrete activity came from the surrounds, I couldn’t detect it. While Titans wasn’t the kind of movie that really needed active surrounds, I nonetheless felt that they could have been better utilized, especially during the football games; a more encompassing mix would have made these segments even more involving.
Audio quality appeared strong for the most part. 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.
However, the soundtrack lacked very substantial bass. Low-end wasn’t poor, but I felt the mix could have used deeper and more powerful bass, especially during those football games. While the hits seemed forceful, some additional low-end would have made them stronger, and it would have provided more depth to the score as well. In any case, the soundtracks of Remember the Titans seemed largely satisfying.
Disney’s DVD release of Remember the Titans includes a nice complement of supplements, starting with two separate audio commentaries. The first offers the more conventional participants. We hear from director Boaz Yakin, writer Gregory Allen Howard, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. All three men were recorded separately, and the results were edited together for this single coherent product.
Yakin and Howard strongly dominate the proceedings. Bruckheimer provides his standard, generic comments about his philosophies as a filmmaker. I’ve heard a lot of interviews with Bruckheimer, and they almost always come across the same way: mildly interesting but largely uninformative. His statements here are along the same lines, but since Bruckheimer only takes up maybe five or ten minutes of the track, I didn’t mind his presence.
It helps that the remarks from both Howard and Yakin were uniformly compelling. Howard covered his interest in the project and he discussed the reality of the actual situation; he even went into a lot of the creative liberties he took with the history. Yakin concentrated more on the production process itself, and he added a lot of solid information about that side of the coin. Ultimately, the commentary is a deftly edited and very entertaining program.
(By the way, I was happy to hear Howard at least gently acknowledge that Alexandria is close to DC, though he never dispels the notion that it was a small town. However, Howard does offer one odd statement. He relates - correctly - that Virginia lacks a pro football team. He uses this fact as a reason for the alleged popularity of high school football. Unfortunately, this totally ignores the existence of the Redskins, a team that played less than 10 miles from T.C. Williams. The ‘Skins have been the passion of the DC area for many decades, and since Howard apparently lived around here at one point, he really should know that Virginians feel no lack of pro football spirit. Heck, for years our nearest baseball team was in Baltimore, but many of us didn’t even mind that! I’ve happily cheered for the Orioles since childhood - coincidentally, DC lost the Senators in 1971 - and I’m not exactly alone. As such, I don’t think residents of Alexandria circa 1971 glommed onto the Titans because they had no pro football allegiances.)
Even more fun is the second commentary. Taking its cue from similar tracks like the one from Jim and Marilyn Lovell on Apollo 13, we hear from the real-life versions of coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast. The two men were recorded together, though this doesn’t often seem apparent; their interaction was sporadic, which was a mild disappointment. Nonetheless, I found this commentary to provide a largely solid experience. Both coaches give us a lot of detail about their own experiences and their reactions to the film. We learn more about the facts of the true-life situation, and they add a nice perspective on the events in the movie plus their thoughts about coaching in general. It’s a very interesting track that definitely merits a listen.
In addition, Titans tosses in a series of video extras. First up is an ABC TV special called Remember The Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes. Hosted by former football great Lynn Swann, this 20-minute and 55-second program offers the usual combination of film clips, behind the scenes shots, and interviews with principal participants. The latter include actors Denzel Washington, Will Patton, Ryan Hurst, Wood Harris, Kip Pardue, Ethan Suplee, and we also hear from the three men heard on the first audio commentary plus the two coaches and a nice little mix of many real-life players from the 1971 Titans. In the latter category, we get notes from Fred Alderson, Petey Jones, Robert Luckett, Lee R. Davis, and Julius Campbell.
The involvement of those folks is what makes this show more entertaining than most. As a whole, it’s a superficial promotional piece that mainly tells us what a great movie Titans is, and we find an overabundance of movie snippets. However, it was fun to see the old players, and the brief interview Swann conducts with Boone and Yoast was also well-done. Overall, it’s not a special piece, but a few elements make it pretty good.
Next up are two brief featurettes. Denzel Becomes Boone lasts six minutes and 10 seconds while Beating the Odds runs six minutes and 20 seconds. Essentially, both of these are just extensions of the prior documentary. “Denzel” looks more specifically at the character of Coach Boone, while “Odds” goes into a little more depth about the genesis of the project itself.
They use the same format found in the documentary and clearly come from the same interview sessions; we even hear a few duplicated sound bites. “Denzel” features Bruckheimer, Washington, Boone, Howard, and Yakin, while “Odds” gives us Bruckheimer, Howard, Yakin, Pardue and Walt Disney Studios chairman Peter Schneider. They’re both light and superficial, but they remain acceptably entertaining.
In addition to the theatrical trailer for Titans, we find a Deleted Scenes section. There are six excised clips, and they run for a total of eight minutes. One is actually an extended version of the “getting to know you” montage in which the players learned about each other, but all of the others are true cuts, and most of them focus upon Coach Yoast.
Somewhat surprisingly, I found virtually all of the scenes to be pretty entertaining. One particularly fun one rips off a segment originally cut from Terminator 2 that was restored in the film’s special edition. In that bit, the terminator attempts to smile. Here, we see Coach Boone encouraged to grin, with similarly humorous results. Unfortunately, it was shot poorly, so we can barely see the side of his face that bears the wrinkle. Nonetheless, it’s fun to see, and I liked all of the deleted scenes. My only complaint is that we get no director commentary to discuss why they were left out of the final film.
Kudos to Disney for some nice “user friendliness” on their extras. For one, most of them include subtitles, which is always thoughtful, though absent on most supplements. I was also pleased to notice a “play all” option attached to the three behind the scenes programs and to the deleted scenes. It’s great to be able to let them rip and not have to return to the menu so many times.
The DVD opens with some promos. We get ads for Atlantis: The Lost Empire, 102 Dalmatians, Disney’s The Kid and The Emperor’s New Groove. These also appear under the Sneak Peeks banner.
As is usually the case with films from producer Jerry Bruckheimer, Remember the Titans reinvents no wheels and will win no prizes for originality, but in its execution, it proves to be a spirited and energetic look at integration and race relations in the early Seventies. I was put off by some misrepresentations of my home area, but even so, I enjoyed the movie and found it to be fun and compelling.
The DVD provides solid picture with good sound and a nice package of extras. The supplements are led by two strong audio commentaries. If you’re prone to excessive bouts of cynicism, you probably won’t like Remember the Titans, but for folks who enjoy well-told uplifting tales, it should prove to be nicely stimulating.
To rate this film visit the Director's Cut review of REMEMBER THE TITANS