Secretariat appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently fine presentation.
Sharpness usually seemed strong. A few slightly soft shots materialized, but the vast majority of the flick demonstrated good delineation. No jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent. Source flaws also didn’t create any distractions, as the flick lacked defects.
Given its period setting, I expected a subdued palette from Secretariat, and it went along the anticipated lines. The flick featured a fairly sepia-oriented tone. Within that, the colors seemed fine. A few brighter tones occasionally emerged – primarily via Lucien’s garish outfits – and the hues were depicted well. Blacks were dense and dark, while shadows came across as smooth and clear. Across the board, I felt pleased with the picture.
While not a slam-bang mix, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Secretariat provided reasonably vivid accompaniment to the action. The soundfield created a good sense of atmosphere. Music offered nice stereo delineation, and the effects formed a feeling of place and setting.
Some scenes such as those with aircraft or storms opened up the room in a decent manner, but the majority of the soundscape’s most involving material revolved around horses and racing. Those sequences made nice use of all the channels and moved things about the spectrum well. Those scenes added the most pizzazz to the package.
Audio quality was good. Speech always remained crisp and concise, while music fared well. The score sounded rich and full at all times. Effects seemed accurate and dynamic, and they boasted nice low-end response when necessary. I felt this qualified as a “B” soundtrack.
When we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Randall Wallace. He offers a running, screen-specific look at what brought him to the project, story/character/script notes, cast and performances, sets and locations, cinematography, shooting the race sequences, music and editing, and some other filmmaking areas.
Like the movie itself, the commentary provides a pretty perfunctory piece. Wallace covers all the appropriate beats and gives us a reasonably good examination of the movie, but the track never becomes particularly fascinating. Wallace delivers a more than competent piece, though, so it’s worth a listen.
Three featurettes follow. Heart of a Champion runs 14 minutes, 56 seconds and offers notes from Wallace, Penny Chenery, Secretariat.com’s Leonard Lusky, exercise riders Jim Gafney and Charlie Davis, writer Bill Nack, Claiborne Farms owner Seth Hancock, and actors Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Nestor Serrano, Keith Austin, Otto Thorwarth and Nelsan Ellis. “Heart” looks at the real Secretariat and tells us of his racing career. This is a quick overview but it’s useful, especially since we see a lot of actual race footage.
Choreographing the Races lasts six minutes, 27 seconds, and features Wallace, Thorwarth, Austin, Nack, Lane, producer Mark Ciardi, horse wrangler Rusty Hendrickson, and actor Kevin Connolly. We get a quick look at the creation of the movie’s race sequences. Some nice footage emerges, but the piece seems too brief and perfunctory; it’s more about telling us how good the race scenes are than about letting us know how they were created.
Finally, A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation with the Real Penny Chenery goes for 21 minutes, 12 seconds and features a chat between Wallace and Chenery. We hear about her life and reflections about episodes depicted in the film. I like the emphasis on Chenery’s experiences and think the featurette adds a good layer of introspection to the movie.
Seven Deleted Scenes occupy a total of . We find an “Alternate Opening” (1:18), “Memories” (1:01), “Introduction” (0:41), “’Are You a Golfer?’” (1:52), “Seth Joins the Team” (1:02), “No Time to Rest” (2:27) and “Too Soon to Celebrate” (1:47). Most are a bit on the dull side, though “Golfer” is amusing and “Rest” provides a little more depth to Penny’s family relationship. None of them seem vaguely momentous, though, so I don’t think the movie loses anything due to their omission.
We can view the scenes with or without commentary from Wallace. He tells us about the sequences and lets us know why he eliminated them. Wallace covers the segments in a positive manner. A 40-second intro from Wallace also appears to set up the cut footage.
Next comes a Music Video for AJ Michalka’s “It’s Who You Are”. In the video, we see movie clips and shots of Michalka as she flounces around a stable. Michalka’s attractive, but this is a dull video for a sappy song.
An interesting component arrives via a Multi-Angle Simulation. We see a computer simulation of the 1973 Preakness and can view it with notes from jockey Michael Smith (3:43), reporter Brad Free (5:09), historian/Preakness owner Dennis Mills (3:35), and spectator Mike Calderone (4:14). We can also check out footage of the actual race (2:12). All of these components combine to give us a nice view of the race, though the play-by-play of the real Preakness stands as the best part.
The disc opens with ads for Tangled and DisneyNature: African Cats. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with promos for The Incredibles, Cars 2, Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure, The Lion King, Phineas and Ferb: Across the 2nd Dimension and SpookyBuddies: The Curse of the Howlloween Hound. No trailer for Secretariat appears here.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Secretariat. This throws in a few extras, so it’s not a totally bare-bones rendition. For folks without Blu-ray players, it helps “future proof” their investment.
Despite a potentially interesting subject, Secretariat falls flat. It takes its topic and strips it of drama and emotion; instead, we end up with a trite, tame tale. The Blu-ray provides excellent picture quality as well as good audio and supplements. While I think this is a nice release, the movie is never better than mediocre.