Million Dollar Baby appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. No problems marred this solid presentation.
Sharpness always looked good. Only a smidgen of softness ever popped up in wide shots; those instances occurred infrequently and remained minor. The vast majority of the flick looked concise and accurate. Neither jagged edges nor shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge haloes. The movie lacked obvious digital noise reduction and print flaws failed to appear; this was a consistently clean presentation.
Baby featured a stylized palette to match the subdued subject matter. The tones tended toward light greens and blues, though a little more vivacity emerged in boxing sequences. The disc replicated the visual design nicely, as the colors always appeared the way they were intended to look. Black levels also came across as dense and rich, while shadow detail was appropriately thick but not excessively heavy. Everything here replicated the source well and earned an “A-“.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Million Dollar Baby served the movie fairly well. As one might expect, the majority of the audio tended toward general environmental material. Music demonstrated excellent stereo imaging, and the effects spread out the information well.
Boxing scenes worked the best, as they added dimensionality from the crowd and other elements. Gym scenes were also solid since they broadened out to present a natural feel. The rear speakers contributed a fine sense of atmospherics throughout the flick, and they were active when appropriate.
Audio quality seemed good. At all times, dialogue came across as concise and crisp. I noticed no problems with edginess or intelligibility, as the lines always sounded smooth. Music was appropriately bright and dynamic, as the score and songs seemed nicely reproduced.
Effects were also clean and realistic, with no signs of distortion. Bass response pounded well when necessary, such as during the aforementioned panic attacks; the low-end really kicked in solidly. The mix was involving without being showy, and that made sense for this sort of film.
How did this 10th Anniversary release compare to the original Blu-ray from 2006? Audio showed similar scope but added some range/punch because it replaced the old disc’s lossy DD 5.1 mix with a DTS-HD track.
As for the visuals, they demonstrated the improvements in Blu-ray encoding that’ve occurred over the last seven-plus years. The original release was one of the earliest BDs on the market and the format’s come a long way since late 2006. The 2014 disc seemed better defined, clearer and more natural, without the artifacts that popped up on the 2006 release. This was a much improved presentation of the film.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras. Exclusive to the 10th Anniversary set, we find an audio commentary from producer Albert Ruddy. He delivers a running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, training and research, cast and performances, background and a few other topics.
While Ruddy occasionally touches on production issues, he does so infrequently - very infrequently, as a matter of fact. Instead, the vast majority of the track finds Ruddy in narrator mode, as he simply tells us about the movie's characters and story. He does so in a fairly engaging manner, but since we've already seen the film, we learn nothing new. That makes this a commentary with almost no informational value.
Next comes a 19-minute and 13-second featurette called Born to Fight. It presents movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and comments from director/actor Clint Eastwood and actors Hilary Swank, Lucia Rijker, Jay Baruchel, Anthony Mackie and Morgan Freeman. They discuss the characters and the story, personal reflections, training and the boxing scenes, and general remarks.
Don’t expect much meat from “Fight”. Do expect spoilers, so if you’ve not seen the movie yet, avoid this program. Mostly the show includes fairly bland notes about the main personalities and the plot. These usually lack insight. Really, Rijker’s comments are the only good ones. She tells us some interesting boxing tales and a personal story about her past. Otherwise, this is a dull piece.
After this we find The Producers’ Round 15. It goes for 13 minutes, five seconds and offers information from Ruddy, producer Tom Rosenberg, and producer/screenwriter Paul Haggis. They go into the movie’s origins and development, casting and Eastwood’s involvement, the director’s style and shooting the film, and reactions to the film’s success.
“Producers” easily accomplishes more than its predecessor. It provides a reasonably informative look at the flick and presents actual substance. It’s still too short and never becomes special, but at least it doesn’t waste our time.
Next comes James Lipton Takes on Three. This show fills 24 minutes and 45 seconds as it features Lipton’s post-Oscars roundtable chat with Eastwood, Freeman and Swank. They chat about the movie’s reception, why they chose to work on the flick and its script. Improvisation, the start to Swank’s career and her approach to Maggie, her injuries during the shoot, acting together, Freeman’s dancing past and his take on Scrap, influences, Eastwood’s techniques on the set, and the movie’s voiceover.
In regard to its quality, “Three” falls between the other prior programs. It certainly betters the superficiality of “Fight” but it lacks the concise coverage of “Producers”. Lipton is such a fawning, obsequious presence that he gets on my nerves, and he doesn’t ask questions that prompt great information. Nonetheless, enough data emerges to make the show watchable and sporadically informative.
Another component added to the 2014 Blu-ray, On the Ropes runs 26 minutes, four seconds and features Ruddy, Freeman, Rosenberg, Eastwood, Haggis and Swank. The program examines the source story and its adaptation for the screen, financing and Eastwood’s involvement, working with the studio, cast and performances, aspects of the shoot, training and the boxing scenes, and a few other areas. “Ropes” acts as a decent overview of the production, but it doesn’t add a ton to what we already know from prior programs.
The set finishes with the film’s trailer. No previews or other ads appear.
Maybe I'll watch Million Dollar Baby again someday and decide I was totally wrong - it's happened. But based on my four screenings, I scratch my head about all the praise it received, as I thought was simplistic, obvious and heavy-handed. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals and solid audio along with a decent set of supplements. I don’t care for Baby, but I can endorse this 10th Anniversary Blu-ray as easily the best version of the film on the market; it’s a strong upgrade for owners of the 2006 disc.
To rate this film visit the Deluxe Edition review of MILLION DOLLAR BABY