The Greatest Game Ever Played 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. No notable problems emerged via this transfer.
Despite a little edge enhancement, sharpness looked good. A smidgen of softness crept into some wider shots, but the majority of the flick offered nice definition and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering created no distractions, and I witnessed no signs of source flaws.
The somewhat nostalgic, stylized palette of Game favored greens and golds. These werenít truly realistic, but they seemed well fleshed out given the movieís production design. The colors always were concise. Blacks seemed acceptably strong, and most low-light shots were clean and smooth. A couple of them were a little dense, but those caused no problems. This was a consistently satisfying image.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Game was also fine. It boasted a reasonably active soundfield. Actually, it became too lively at times due to those distracting elements I mentioned in the body of the review. With booms and swishes, the movie showed too many auditory gimmicks.
Despite those, the soundscape remained pretty positive. Louder scenes like storms presented nice spread around the spectrum, and the mix also demonstrated a very good sense of atmosphere. The many outdoors shots opened up matters well and made this a fairly encompassing track.
No issues with audio quality emerged. Speech seemed natural and concise, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music was crisp and full, and effects showed good range. Low-end was deep and clear, and the elements offered fine accuracy and precision. The mix ended up as a good one.
Two audio commentaries launch the DVDís extras. The first features director Bill Paxton as he offers a running, screen-specific piece. Though he offers some good notes, his gushing tone makes this track a little tough to take.
Paxton gets into many of the usual issues. He chats about cast and performances, sets and locations, storytelling and visual decisions, effects, and adaptation choices. Paxton maintains a peppy attitude and reveals fun facts like how Yellow Submarine and Star Wars influenced Game.
Unfortunately, as I alluded, Paxtonís remarks come with a whole lot of happy talk. He devotes much of the commentary to plain praise for the flick and all those involved. Iím glad he feels so proud of the movie, but this tone gets old. The combination of good facts and fluffy comments mean that this is an informative but erratic track.
For the second track, we hear from writer/co-producer Mark Frost. He also presents a running, screen-specific chat. This commentary more heavily focuses on Frostís work as writer than producer. He tosses out a few production notes but mostly concentrates on the history behind the movie.
And he does so very well. Frost gives us a great look at the facts of the events depicted in the film. He covers the participants, the situations and the reality of the era in which the story takes place. Frost provides an excellent background and helps flesh out our understanding of the movie.
The DVD follows with three featurettes. A View from the Gallery: On the Set of The Greatest Game Ever Played lasts 15 minutes, 23 seconds. It mixes movie clips, behind the scenes bits and interviews. We hear from Paxton, Frost, producer Larry Brezner, sequence conceptual consultant Mick Reinman, composer/conductor Brian Tyler, production designer Francois Seguin, costume designer Renee April, CDN PGA golf trainer John Murray, visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi, and actors Shia LaBeouf, George Asprey, Peter Firth, Peyton List, Stephen Marcus, Elias Koteas, Stephen Dillane and Michael Weaver.
They focus on the movieís visual depiction of golf, the score, production design and period details, costumes, golf training, visual effects, cast and performances, and Paxtonís impact on the production. ďViewĒ doesnít offer an unusually compelling featurette, but it works pretty well. The last few minutes are the only really fluffy ones. They include lots of praise for the cast, director and film. Otherwise we get short but insightful looks at various aspects of the production. These prove reasonably informative.
The six-minute and 51-second Two Legends and the Greatest Game includes notes from Paxton, Frost, and LaBeouf. Frostís narration dominates the featurette as he gives us an overview of the movieís characters and situations. This partially acts as a shorter version of Frostís commentary, though he adds details that donít appear there. That means this piece is worth a look and gives us some nice notes.
Lastly, a 1963 TV program called From Caddy to Champion: Francis Ouimet goes for 25 minutes and 17 seconds. Hosted by Fred Cusick, we learn about Ouimetís life and career. We also get to meet the real Ouimet at the age of 70 as Cusick reminisces with him. They get into aspects of golf back in the early days and look over old equipment. Cusick and Ouimet then take a tour of the Brookline course and detail the 1913 tournament.
When I saw the title of this piece, I figured it would be a puffy look at Ouimet that existed mainly to promote the movie. That made the showís reality a very pleasant surprise. We get a terrific look at the real Ouimet and learn a lot about him. This may be the DVDís most valuable extra.
A few ads open the DVD. We get promos for Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Manís Chest, Glory Road, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. These also appear under Sneak Peeks along with clips for Airbuddies and Walt Disney World golf.
The Greatest Game Ever Played will never be seen as the Greatest Movie Ever Made. Itís simplistic and far too worried about goofy effects. It fails to tale its story in a compelling, dramatic manner. The DVD offers good picture and audio as well as a positive collection of extras. I canít recommend a movie I donít like, but I also canít subject this DVD to much criticism.