Manchester United: Beyond the Promised Land (2000)

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Released 3-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Sports Main Menu Audio & Animation
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Audio Commentary-Bob Potter (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Additional Footage-Extended Interviews
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 80:44
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bob Potter
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Bias


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (320Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Sponsor ads.
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    OK folks, first up, honesty in advertising: I am a mad keen fan of Manchester United, arguably the most popular soccer team in the world. I have been a fan since birth, with a father born in Manchester and one of the highlights of my childhood was going to see the team play in 1967 when George Best, Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law and company were in full flight and winning the league title. While I was on the boat to Australia the following year we heard that they had won the European Cup for the first time, an event which is discussed more than once on the DVD under review. I mention all this so that when I tell you I am rather disappointed with this title you can appreciate that non-fans will likely be really unimpressed with it.

    The disc follows the behind-the-scenes events of the 1999/2000 season from four main perspectives: the fans, the management, the team and the commercial arm of the club. This was a particularly interesting season as Manchester United had won the treble the previous year (The European Cup, the League title and the FA Cup) which was an amazing achievement. In the documentary which is the major part of this DVD you can see how they managed to follow that up. As an aside, the title of the disc alludes to the commentary from the last minutes of the 1999 European Cup final when one of the commentators noted that Manchester United had reached the promised land (by repeating their 1968 triumph in the same competition).

    The makers of the film, as they mention during the commentary track, had significant access to the operations of all areas of the commercial colossus which is Manchester United nowadays, and they take us to a few nooks and crannies I had not seen before. They have also unearthed some interesting (and passionate) fans who provide some insight into what makes this team so popular. To keep a little balance in proceedings, they also interview some very likeable Leeds United fans who let us know why some people hate the team so passionately as well.

    The film (which appears to have been made for theatrical distribution) was produced by Icon Productions; yes, that is the same company which made Braveheart. While striving to be insightful and meaningful, the producers have forgotten one key component - they are dealing with an exciting and successful soccer team but fail to show us much on-field action. Frankly, apart from the odd interesting insight or three I found the whole thing rather dull, as there is just not enough football on offer here. If you would like to take a look at the operation of a major sporting franchise then this might be for you, but I would suggest it is a rental at best. If you really want to watch Manchester United then order the highlights DVD of their treble winning year from the Manchester United shop and sit on the edge of your seat throughout, instead of falling off it when you nod off as you might after watching this disc.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering this is a recent production the video here is rather disappointing. Yes, there is some dodgy archival footage, but even the new scenes are not too great.

    The aspect ratio is 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced, and not the 1.77:1 noted on the box (but it is close). This appears to have been the original production ratio.

    Sharpness of the transfer is reasonable though indoor shots are often badly lit and rather fuzzy with shadow detail rather poor as a result (see 8:20 as one example). Low level noise is not a problem, luckily.

    The colours are reasonably vivid, particularly during the (all too brief) match segments. Naturally, some of the archival footage (as at 4:35) is in black and white with a muted picture taken from old newsreel film.

    Damage on the print is minimal, which is to be expected given the age of the production, though there are occasional minor positive and negative artefacts. There is also an occasional white dot on the film (find it at bottom right at 75:24) which may be some damage from the editing.

    The only subtitle track on offer is an English for the Hearing Impaired track, which is reasonably accurate but sporting the odd missed word or phrase. It makes good use of sound cues (such as "the crowd cheer") when required.

    No layer change was noticed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The sound varies in quality, as much of it is either archival or interview footage which is pretty much mono by nature. Some of the music is quite effective.

    There are two audio tracks available, with the main one being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at a bitrate of 448 Kb/s. This is supported by a Dolby Digital 2.0 commentary track encoded at a bitrate of 320 Kb/s. I listened to both tracks in their entirety.

    The dialogue is quite acceptable with interview dialogue nicely centred on the screen. Audio sync is fine at all times. There is some variation in audio volume between segments - the original sources are quite varied but a bit more work could have made the sound mix more pleasant.

    The musical background to the documentary is quite good, including an original Tom Jones song lauding the talents of star player Ryan Giggs which I only noticed after it was mentioned in the commentary track. Most of the featured songs fit in nicely with a good volume level blending nicely with the main audio. The song at the end of the film, Things That Dreams Are Made Of, is quite catchy, and fits the theme well as Manchester United's stadium, Old Trafford, is nicknamed the "Theatre of Dreams".

    This is a very subdued soundtrack which only bursts into life during the odd match segment (when the crowd sounds great) and during the closing song. The subwoofer sees very little activity.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There is a small selection of extras on offer, of variable quality.

Menu

    The menu is animated and 16x9 enhanced. From the menu you can Play the Movie, go to Scene Selections, choose Subtitle(s) and go to the Special Features. The production credits for the DVD are "hidden" off the main menu (just move the cursor around a bit and you will find them - if you really want to).

Interviews

    From the interview menu you can choose to view all interviews or each of them individually. If you choose to play all you receive one brief question and answer from each participant; choose them individually to see all they have to say. Each interview runs between 3 and 10 minutes. They are all shown at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, which is nice, and feature the team manager (Sir Alex Ferguson), team legend Sir Bobby Charlton, and key players Roy Keane, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham. For those of you who are interested Becks comes across as far less articulate than the rest of the interviewees, though all of them will be interesting for fans of the team.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is OK as far as trailers go. It runs 1:45 and is shown at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

Web Link

    I couldn't find this on my PC, so if anyone else has, please let us know where it is. If you are interested in the team, why not just head for their official site? I should note that both of my PCs had problems playing the DVD if I tried to play the disc more than once. The first time I played it everything was fine. If I then closed the DVD playing software, did something else on the PC, then tried to play the DVD again I received an error message. Rebooting the PC allowed me to play the disc once again.

Dolby Digital trailer

    The "Rain" trailer plays at the start of the feature.

Commentary Track

    This features director Bob Potter and editor Paul Doyle, and it is pretty bad. Neither of the participants has much to add to what is going on during the main feature, and they leave some VERY lengthy gaps in their commentary.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 2 version of this disc appears identical to the Region 4; it does not appear to be available in Region 1, so that the local version is marginally preferred for reasons of availability.

Summary

    This is a documentary DVD of reasonable quality which manages to turn a look at one of the most exciting soccer teams in the world into a rather tedious piece of television. The video and audio are adequate, as are the extras; but if a mad fan of the team finds this rather dull, well, what more can I say?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Robert Davison (read my bio)
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K350, using Component output
DisplaySONY VPL-HS10 LCD projector, ABI 280cm 16x9 screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderKenwood. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationKenwood
SpeakersKenwood

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