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MOVIE INFO

Director:
George Roy
Narrated By:
Liev Schreiber
Writing Credits:
George Roy

Synopsis:
In 1918 the Boston Red Sox won their fifth World Series, thanks in great part to a young pitching and hitting sensation from the slums of Baltimore, named George Herman Ruth, a.k.a. The Babe, or The Bambino. A year later, after not advancing to the playoffs, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold the Babe to the New York Yankees. In turn, the Bronx Bombers went on to win an incredible 26 World Series titles. Die-hard Red Sox fans who have lived their entire lives lamenting this trade have come to refer to it as The Curse of The Bambino. The Reverse Of The Curse Of The Bambino features new footage from the devastating '03 Pennant loss, the highlights of the historic '04 playoff victories and The World Series sweep. In addition, this acclaimed documentary combines unforgettable archival footage with contemporary interviews that focus on the true Red Sox fans who have been dreaming of the day they could see The Curse put to rest, once and for all.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Fullscreen 1.33:1
Audio:
English Dolby 2.0
Spanish Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 57 min.
Price: $19.97
Release Date: 3/29/2005

Bonus:
• None


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Reverse Of The Curse Of The Bambino (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 31, 2005)

After 86 years, the Boston Red Sox finally won another World Series championship in 2004, and they did it in a remarkable fashion. Down three games to none in the American League Championship Series with the New York Yankees, the Sox staged an historic comeback. No baseball team had ever bounced back from a 3-0 deficit, but the Sox won four straight against the Yanks and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

As I mentioned when I reviewed The Curse of the Bambino, I loathe the Red Sox. I hate that team more than any other in sports. Whether pro or college, the Red Sox are firmly my most despised squad.

I suppose the mature thing would be for me to tip my hat to the Sox for their amazing victory in 2004. Screw that. I hate the Sox more than ever now, so screw them and screw everyone connected with them. Screw their little red hats, screw their Green Monster, screw their Citgo sign, screw their chowder. Screw them, screw them, and screw them some more.

Not that I’m not bitter or anything.

Over the 86 years between World Series championships, the Sox found new and creative ways to disappoint their fans, and a documentary called Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino examines the factors connected to their failures – as well as their eventual success. Along with narration from Liev Schreiber, we find some archival footage and interviews. The roster of participants includes only New England natives. We hear from an exceedingly long list of sports reporters, ordinary folk and celebrities; the original review details all those involved.

Reverse follows the history of the Sox in a somewhat elliptical way. It tells us of the team’s early success, as they won five of first 15 World Series. We then hear of Babe Ruth’s stint with the team and his popularity as well as how owner Harry Frazee sold him to the Yankees after the 1920 season because he needed money for his New York theater. We watch the immediate impact this had on the Sox and find out a little more about Frazee, as the show debunks some myths.

From there Reverse looks at the immense hatred of the Yankees possessed by most New Englanders and we watch some examples of Sox collapses. We examine their failure in 1978 and the infamous one-game playoff with the Yanks that inspired the legend of Bucky “Bleeping” Dent. Some general notes about other failures appear and then we hear about the legend of the curse. We get pro and con comments about how the selling of Ruth caused a curse as well as attempts to erase it. The program also gives us a view of the Sox’s greatest failure, the collapse in the 1986 World Series before it takes on their biggest success in 2004.

Reverse offers a fitfully entertaining program filled with highs and lows. Unusually, some of its strengths also are weaknesses. The fan interviews fall into that category. Reverse relies too heavily on these, and they occasionally dilute the impact of the material. We see game footage of significant events, but the program interrupts these for comments, and that often makes them less effective. For example, it’s good to see the Bucky Dent home run, but the show mars the presentation with too many fan remarks.

On the other hand, when the interviews work well, they add a lot to the show. The best example comes from the examination of the 1986 Series. Before 2004, the Sox made the World Series three times in my lifetime. I was an infant in 1967, so obviously I have no memory of it. I was eight for the 1975 Series, so I maintain some recollections of it, but not strong ones.

1986, on the other hand, took place in my late teens, and I have a very vivid memory of watching it in my college apartment. My hatred of the Sox was well in place by then; I never liked the Mets either, but I’d root for Satan himself over the Red Sox. I recall the ecstasy I felt when the Sox made that most improbable of collapses.

Reverse doesn’t show matters from my Sox-hating side of the coin, but its interviews with Sox boosters aptly reignited my memories. I felt like I was back in that apartment watching it take place in front of me. The interviews seemed very vivid and allowed us to get a “you are there” feel, at least from the Sox fan point of view.

The 1986 elements are definitely the best parts of Reverse. On the negative side, the show doesn’t delve into the team’s history as much as I’d like, and it seems like a scattershot examination. The construction seems awkward, as it flits from era to era without much logic, and it doesn’t follow a logical path. I’d have liked more information about other eras instead of just 1978, 1986 and 2004.

Despite its title, Reverse doesn’t spend a ton of time with the 2004 team. The program’s opening acknowledges that squad’s victory, and the final 20 minutes of the show examine the playoffs. Otherwise the show stays with Boston’s frustrations up until that point.

Why is that? Because Reverse is just a reworking of the original Curse of the Bambino documentary I cited earlier. The opening comments about 2004 are new, as are those final 20 minutes. Those include new interviews with folks like Dennis Leary and Steven Wright who also appeared in the first show. In addition, Reverse features new narration from Liev Schreiber. Ben Affleck did that task for the original program, but I guess he wasn’t available to update the show. This new material was necessary not just to discuss the 2004 elements; the writers also had to change parts of the information related in the meat of the program due to the end of the “curse”.

That makes Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino a weird product. It cuts out about 40 percent of the original program, which means that historical events are either shortened or lost altogether. For example, there’s no longer a discussion of the racist practices of the earlier Sox owners. Many parts remain intact, but the “curse” elements become rushed and lose some impact.

On the other hand, it presents too little information about 2004 to act as a solid summary of the team’s triumph. We zoom through the playoffs and don’t get a great feel for things, especially since we see nothing of the ALCS until Game 4.

This leaves Reverse as a bastard program. I don’t know if anyone cares about the curse anymore, but even if they do, it presents an inferior look at that history when compared with the original show. It also fails to give us a satisfying examination of the 2004 team. Yeah, it’s kind of fun to follow up with Leary and the others who come back from the prior show, but those elements aren’t enough to make it a satisfying piece.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus F

Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Picture quality seemed a bit erratic but was mainly good.

Within the constraints of the material, sharpness seemed fine. I based most of my opinions on the interviews conducted expressly for this documentary, and they presented decent accuracy and delineation. They never looked terribly detailed, but they appeared adequately concise. Occasional examples of jagged edges and moiré effects occurred, and I also noticed some light edge enhancement at times. Not surprisingly, the archival footage demonstrated some defects. The new shots were cleanest. The image showed sporadic instances of specks and marks in the older shots, though they weren’t too bad.

The program demonstrated somewhat drab but decent colors. They varied dependent on the source, but they mostly seemed fairly natural and clear. Blacks were reasonably deep and dense, and the few low-light shots looked acceptably concise. Given the nature of the program, Reverse seemed perfectly watchable, but it didn’t offer a particularly strong visual presentation.

It should come as no surprise that the Dolby Stereo 2.0 soundtrack of Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino presented a pretty subdued affair, but it seemed satisfying. The major material from the side speakers concentrated on music, as the score offered very nice stereo separation and imaging. Occasional effects popped up, and these stayed in the atmospheric domain. Those also spread nicely to the surrounds. Otherwise, some light baseball ambience occurred, but the chatty mix largely concentrated on the center.

Audio quality appeared perfectly acceptable. Speech was consistently natural and distinctive. I noticed no issues with edginess or intelligibility. The score seemed clear and very well reproduced, as the music appeared warm and vivid. The effects were a smaller part of the mix. Still, they came across as clean and fairly accurate, and the track demonstrated nice bass response. Nothing special occurred here, but the audio of Reverse was more than fine for this sort of program.

No supplements appear on the DVD. That’s too bad, as it could have included some nice baseball and historical footage to expand the subject.

As a longtime Red Sox hater, I enjoyed the original The Curse of the Bambino, as it allowed me to relive that squad’s more humiliating moments. The program suffers from inconsistent pacing and erratic focus, but it remains reasonably informative and engaging.

However, Reverse of the Curse of the Bambino does nothing more than offer some token updates in an attempt to squeeze some money from the “Sox Nation” faithful. It doesn’t do anything to make it a compelling reflection on events. This is a piece of product with little reason to exist other and less reason for you to get it. If you hate the Sox and want to delight in their 85 years of pain, stick with the original Curse. If you love the Sox and want to commemorate their championship, dig up a DVD devoted solely to that experience. There’s little reason to get Reverse.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.7692 Stars Number of Votes: 13
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