Hoosiers appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an attractive presentation for the most part.
Overall sharpness worked well. Some light softness interfered at times – especially in wider shots – but the majority of the film showed good clarity and accuracy. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, but I saw occasional, light edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I noticed a couple of small specks but nothing more.
Colors seemed fine. The image opted for a semi-sepia feel typical of period pieces, and it lacked much in terms of vivid hues. Within those constraints, the hues were solid, as they showed positive reproduction. Black levels tended to appear reasonably dark, while shadow detail was fairly clear; some low-light shots appeared a smidgen murky, but those were the exception.
I admit I was surprised at how good Hoosiers looked, as based on its era and origins, I thought it’d be grainier and fuzzier than it was. In fact, at times I wondered if perhaps the image got spruced up a little too much; while I didn’t see overt signs of excessive noise reduction, I did think the movie could be a little too peppy and clean at times.
Nonetheless, it was still quite satisfying, and if it did use various “clean-up” techniques, it didn’t go over the top with them; you’ll still see grain and the usual “80s look” to the film. Overall, the movie really looked quite good.
As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it seemed adequate. This wasn’t a movie that needed an ambitious soundscape, so don’t expect a lot from its use of the various channels. Music showed decent stereo spread across the front, and some effects emanated from different speakers. These managed to open up some scenes – mainly the basketball games – but a lot of the track appeared to pretty much remain monaural; this wasn’t a soundfield that tried to dazzle us, which seemed logical.
Audio quality was acceptable. Speech seemed a bit wan but offered reasonable clarity and lacked problems like edginess. Music appeared similarly thin; the synthesized score didn’t sound tinny, but it didn’t have a lot of oomph. The same went for the effects, though they didn’t play a major role; outside of the basketball scenes, this was a chatty flick. This was a perfectly decent 1980s soundtrack that merited a “C+”.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the Special Edition DVD from 2005? Both improved. The audio showed a superior soundfield; the DVD’s soundscape suffered from awkward localization, while this one felt more natural. The image offered a cleaner, tighter presentation. I thought the Blu-ray provided a nice jump up in quality.
The Blu-ray’s extras replicate most of those from the SE DVD. We open with an audio commentary. The latter features director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo, both of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss the project's roots and development, story and character areas, sets and locations, editing and cut/altered sequences, cast and performances, and a few other areas.
Overall, this becomes a good commentary. On the negative side, the track occasionally sags, but those gaps occur with reasonable infrequency. Anspaugh and Pizzo mesh well and usually create a likable, informative chat that lets us know quite a bit about the film.
Next we go to a featurette called Hoosier History: The Story Behind the Legend. It goes for 29 minutes, 48 seconds and includes notes from Anspaugh, Pizzo, Milan High coach Randy Combs, producer Carter DeHaven, former Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, former Pacers player Reggie Miller, ESPN’s Bill Simmons, former Purdue University coach Gene Keady, 1953-54 Milan High players Bob Plump, Glen Butte, Ray Craft, and Roger Schroder, 1953-54 Muncie High players Jimmy Barnes, director of photography Fred Murphy, and actors Dennis Hopper, Gene Hackman, and Maris Valainis. “Legend” looks at the story that inspired the film, the movie’s roots, script and development, cast and characters, locations and sets, shooting the basketball scenes, and the flick’s reception.
Though not exactly a hard-hitting program, “Legend” delivers a decent enough examination of the flick. It tends to feel fairly superficial, but it’s nice to meet some of the real players and contrast the reality with the fantasy. This ends up as a watchable little piece but not anything dynamic.
For something especially compelling, we get the Milan Vs. Muncie 1954 Indiana High School Basketball Championship Game. This archival footage fills 41 minutes, 26 seconds and shows the contest featured in the film. While it looks and sounds pretty terrible, it’s an awfully cool addition to the set.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate 13 Deleted Scenes; these fill a total of 31 minutes, 13 seconds. (That total also includes intros from Anspaugh and Pizzo.) Most of these embellish characters and fill in a few expositional dots. Of course, some are better than others, but I’d be hard-pressed to cite any that should’ve remained in the final flick; they’re usually moderately interesting but not especially memorable.
Does the Blu-ray drop any of the DVD’s extras? Yup – it loses a photo gallery. I don’t know why so many Blu-rays omit already-existing collections of stills, but it doesn’t surprise me when this occurs.
Over the years since its release, Hoosiers has become a much-beloved “underdog” drama. Does it deserve its legend? To a certain degree. While not a great film, it does deliver an emotion, spirited take on the genre. The Blu-ray comes with pretty good picture and audio as well a nice set of supplements. I felt happy with this 2012 Blu-ray of Hoosiers, as I’m sure it’s easily the best home video representation of the film to date.
To rate this film visit the Collector's Edition review of HOOSIERS