Hardball appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a bland presentation.
Sharpness was good but not great. While the movie usually offered positive clarity, it could feel a bit soft, a factor aggravated by some light edge haloes.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred. In terms of print flaws, I saw specks and occasional other blemishes, though nothing extreme.
Colors felt decent but a little flat. The film went with a largely natural palette that lacked much to stand out as memorable.
Blacks seemed acceptable, while shadows were largely positive. This came across as a recycled DVD transfer, so don’t expect it to live it to 2021 standards.
Given the movie’s character focus, its DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack failed to deliver fireworks. A few scenes – baseball games, crowds, violence – broadened the soundscape’s horizons, but the scope remained restrained enough to make this a limited soundfield.
Audio quality appeared more than adequate, with speech that came across as natural and concise. Effects lacked much to do, but they showed acceptable accuracy and range.
Music seemed largely full and broad. This was a perfectly decent mix for a character drama.
As we move to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Brian Robbins and writer John Gatins. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific view of story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, photography and related domains.
Expect a wholly mediocre commentary. At times, we get some good notes about the production. However, we also find more than a few spots of dead air as well as some banal material, all of which add up to a spotty chat.
The Making of Hardball runs 12 minutes, 25 seconds. The show brings notes from Robbins, executive producer Herb Gaines, assistant baseball coordinator Jason Robertson, baseball coordinator Mark Ellis, and actors Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane, Brian Ree, Bryan Hearne, Julian Griffith, A. Delon Ellis Jr., Michael Perkins, Michael B. Jordan, DeWayne Warren, John Hawkes, Kristopher Lofton and Mike McGlone,
The featurette covers story/characters, cast and performances, and Robbins’ impact on the production. A few minor insights emerge but the program remains superficial and promotional most of the time.
Three Deleted Scenes occupy a total of seven minutes, seven seconds. We find “Duffy’s Tavern” (3:58), “The Funeral Parlor” (1:27) and “Talking to the Kids” (1:42).
Oddly, these come in the reverse order of where they would fall in the movie, so “Tavern” would’ve appeared close to the end and “Kids” near to the start. “Tavern” actually offers some good character moments but it would’ve slowed the story’s progress. The other two are more comedic and superfluous.
Next comes a music video for “Hardball” by Lil’ Bow Wow, Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Zane and Sammie. (Lil’ Sammie was busy?)
The song is no classic, but it’s catchy. Also, the video doesn’t excel, but at least it doesn’t recycle movie clips.
In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc concludes with Interstitials. We get three of these with a total running time of one minute, 16 seconds. They offer character-based ads and seem more creative than most promos.
If you expect Hardball to offer much more than the usual underdog movie clichés, you’ll largely encounter disappointment. This doesn’t make it a bad movie, but outside of one misguided choice late in the film, nothing here seems outside of the box. The Blu-ray comes with erratic visuals and decent audio and bonus materials. While this remains a watchable flick, it never rises above that level.