Super Bowl XXXIX Champions appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The picture will look familiar to fans who saw the prior discs in this series, as it offered very similar visuals.
Sharpness generally appeared adequate. Most of the footage came across as reasonably crisp and distinct, but more than a few shots displayed less than ideal definition. Some vague softness interfered with the presentation at times. I never saw anything that looked terribly fuzzy, but some examples were mildly unfocused. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and I also saw no signs of edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, I detected some grain, but for the most part, the image remained clean.
Colors looked fairly vivid and vibrant, though they also seemed somewhat lackluster. While well saturated and clear, I felt the hues could have appeared brighter much of the time. They displayed no decided problems, but they simply lacked the liveliness I expected. Black levels seemed dense and deep, while shadow detail – a minor issue during the brightly lit games – appeared appropriately defined without too much thickness. Ultimately, Champions suffered from few real problems, but the presentation simply seemed a little flat and lackluster.
As with past releases, the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Super Bowl XXXIX Champions mainly suffered from a lack of ambition. The soundfield appeared very restricted for the most part. Frankly, the majority of the audio seemed monaural. Music opened up the spectrum fairly well, as the side speakers displayed the score with good stereo imaging. In addition, some crowd elements during games broadened the environment to a minor but useful degree. Surround usage appeared totally limited to general reinforcement of music and cheering; the rear speakers played a very small role in the presentation.
Audio quality was good but unexceptional. Speech seemed natural and distinct, with no concerns related to intelligibility or edginess, at least not in regard to the narration. A few lines of play-by-play demonstrated mild distortion, but that only occurred a couple of times. The smattering of effects sounded clear and accurate, as the various hits and crunches appeared realistic. Music functioned best of all, as the score and songs presented bright highs and pretty solid bass response; the mix enjoyed good low-end punch from the music. Overall, this remained a fairly bland soundtrack, but it displayed no substantial concerns.
As we move to the supplements, we start with a big attraction for me: Paul McCartney’s halftime performance. In this 12-minute and 55-second clip, the former Beatle tears through “Drive My Car”, “Get Back”, “Live and Let Die”, and “Hey Jude”. Macca’s done most of these songs to death over the years; only “Car” is an infrequent part of his concerts. However, he manages to make them sound damned fresh here. I’ve seen McCartney live many times and didn’t expect much from his halftime appearance, but I was quite impressed. Some question remains about whether Macca lip-synched part of the show, but it doesn’t really matter. He turns in a strong showing in this solid little set.
For a very cool addition, we head to the World Broadcast. The 74-minute and 15-second show offers the game in its entirety. Minus commercials and most delays, we just get the action with English play-by-play. It feels weird to see a football game fly by at such a pace, but it’s a lot of fun nonetheless. I never quite realized how much tension the many pauses add to the game, though; this presentation is satisfying for a recap, but it doesn’t leave room for the kind of interpretation and analysis we’d like to perform during a live broadcast. Nonetheless, I really like this extra and think it contributes a lot of value to this DVD.
Some pregame interviews with notable Patriots appear in Media Day. This nine-minute compilation includes comments from Patriots Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Randall Gay, Rodney Harrison, Kevin Faulk, Corey Dillon, David Patten, Willie McGinest, Richard Seymour, and Adam Vinatieri, team owner/chairman Robert Kraft, and coach Bill Belichick. Most pro athletes tend to offer bland soundbites, and that trend continues during this fairly dull package of remarks. (It’s scary to consider the possibility that this set offers the best interviews of Media Day.)
More of this sort of material shows up in Post-Game Sounds. The eight-minute and 45-second collection gathers after-Bowl remarks from Belichick, Kraft, and Patriots Brady, Harrison, Dillon, Bruschi, McGinest, Seymour, Vinatieri, game MVP Deion Branch, Matt Light, and Mike Vrabel. It’s more of the same, with additional generic comments from the participants. Don’t expect much interesting material here.
If you’re a fan of the New England Patriots, you’ll get a kick from Super Bowl XXXIX Champions. It gives us a nice souvenir of the season that ensured their enshrinement as one of the NFL’s all-time great teams. For those who don’t live and die with the Pats, however, the show seems too light and fluffy to provide much value. The DVD provides bland but acceptable picture and sound along with an erratic set of extras highlighted by the inclusion of the complete Super Bowl as well as a good performance from Paul McCartney. Diehard backers of the Patriots - or big McCartney fans like me - will want to give it a look, but others probably won’t find much in it to interest them.