Wimbledon (2004)

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Released 19-Jan-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Richard Loncraine (Director) & Paul Bettany (Actor)
Featurette-Welcome To The Club
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Ball Control
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Coach A Rising Star
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Wimbledon: A Look Inside
Trailer-Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, The Terminal
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 93:44
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Richard Loncraine
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Kirsten Dunst
Paul Bettany
Kyle Hyde
Robert Lindsay
Celia Imrie
Penny Ryder
Annabel Leventon
Amanda Walker
James McAvoy
Bernard Hill
Eleanor Bron
Marina Morgan
Barry Jackson
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Ed Shearmur


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Czech
Hungarian
Polish
Romanian
English Audio Commentary
Czech Audio Commentary
Hungarian Audio Commentary
Polish Audio Commentary
Romanian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Once a year the tennis world focuses its attention on Wimbledon, home of the most prestigious event on the tennis calendar and in this film home of a courtside romance between two tennis pros. Paul Bettany plays Peter Colt, a former top English tennis player, once ranked 11th, who is now in his 30s and on the downside of his career. Kirsten Dunst plays Lizzie Bradbury, the next young star of the female tennis circuit, who seemingly has a successful tennis career in the bag. After a chance meeting in a luxury hotel room, an unlikely romance blossoms between the two tennis pros in the midst of the pressures of the tournament. However, Lizzie's father, Dennis (Sam Neill), is not at all impressed at the prospect of a romance during Wimbledon because he is convinced that it adversely affects her game. This of course complicates the lives of the lead characters and at the same time provides an excellent recipe for a romantic comedy.

     I am personally a huge fan of tennis although many of my piers have little regard for it. It is after all not the most exciting sport in the world I'll grant you that - hitting a green ball over a net - but for whatever reason I thoroughly enjoy watching it and playing it and this film would probably be best suited to those of you who feel the same way. I would imagine it would have been a very daunting task in pre-production to come up with a way to spruce the game up for the big screen, but the makers of Wimbledon have not only done it but have done it exceedingly well. With the aid of CGI and some tricky cinematography, Wimbledon features many new and virtually impossible angles that you're unlikely to ever see in broadcast tennis, so even if tennis is not your thing I'm sure you'll have some appreciation for the game here. Of course the film is not just about tennis - it is also a very well written romantic comedy that avoids most of the cheesy romantic clichés that we've all come to know and loathe in the past decade.

     Paul Bettany, whom many of you will know from A Beautiful Mind, Master & Commander and A Knight's Tale (most women seem to remember him from this one for some reason...), is the highlight of this film. The role of an aging English tennis pro seems to be one that was made just for him. Indeed, he slips into it like a glove. Other notable appearances include Jon Favreau (The Replacements) who plays Peter Colt's slightly eccentric agent and John McEnroe who plays a commentator (obviously as himself - why would he need to act?).

     Wimbledon is very funny and highly entertaining romantic comedy. Yes in the end the the story is more than a little predictable, but hey - why change a winning recipe?

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This is a glorious, bright and colourful transfer with a rather unique look to it which can be attributed to the bleach bypass process utilized in the film processing (the same process used in Three Kings).

     Detail is extremely high throughout but unfortunately this triggers a considerable amount of aliasing, particularly along the lines of the tennis court. If you are bothered by aliasing this transfer may not be to your liking - if you're using progressive scan equipment you'll have no such problems. Because aliasing is an inherent problem with interlaced television in general and not the film transfer I am loath to deduct any points for this. The simple fact is that the film frame is progressive scan by nature so if you're watching on interlaced equipment, which most of us are, you're not watching it the way it was intended. Shadow detail is very good.

     Colours as previously mentioned are bright and well defined throughout the film, which is not an easy thing to do given the gloomy weather that frequently graces England. The bleach bypass process at times also gives the colours a somewhat surreal look which I very much like.

     There is little in the way of artefacts, other than aliasing. There is nothing in the way of MPEG artefacts. I didn't spot any significant film artefacts. In fact, unless you were looking for them, you could pretty much call them non-existent.

     There are several sets of subtitles present. I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired and found them to be very accurate.

     This is an RSDL disc although given the buffer in my new Pioneer DV-676A, the layer change was completely invisible. If somebody else spots it could you please leave a post down the bottom. The file size of the main feature is 5214Mb.

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

Audio

     One could be forgiven for expecting very little in the sound department of a romantic comedy so it will no doubt surprise many that Wimbledon is a surround sound bonanza.

     The audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kbs) as per the Dolby Digital EX logo at the end of the credits. The track is however not EX flagged. There are also several alternate languages. Worth mentioning is this is in fact a rare occasion where Universal have provided a full bit-rate 448Kbs Dolby Digital track. With the exception of some of Francis Ford Coppola's films like the The Conversation, which are distributed by Universal but owned by other studios, this is probably one of the first to have 448Kbs. Indeed, other Universal films like About A Boy and Bridget Jones's Diary which are produced by the same production companies (Studio Canal and Working Title Films) as Wimbledon have only 384Kbs Dolby Digital tracks. Could this be the start of a trend? I hope so. Unfortunately, in spite of Universal's upgrade of the Dolby Digital audio we have been denied the additional DTS (presumable ES) track present on the Region 1 version. A 754Kbs DTS track for this film would take up about 530Mb. The total file size of this disc is 7067Mb which means there would have been just enough room.

     Dialogue is clear with no major problems except there is on occasion some obvious ADR like in the sushi bar in Chapter 5 - the sound of the ADR dialogue, although well synchronized, simply does not sonically match that of the location.

     The music is by Ed Shearmur who provides a very upbeat and distinctive score of which the highlight cue can be heard in the menu.

     The surrounds when used are used heavily and very aggressively. During the scenes on court there is plenty of whizzy directional use of the rear channels for crowd effects, voice over and plenty more. There is some great EX rear centre use throughout the film. Highlight examples are thunder at 41:40 and a plane take-off at 67:00. During the dialogue scenes the audio becomes a bit more sedate but this is to be expected. Top marks for surround use here, particularly given the genre of the movie.

     The subwoofer is not called upon too often - after all, there are no explosions in this film. The sub basically quietly supports the lower register of the sound effects and the music without drawing much attention to itself. This is all expected in this department.

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

Extras

     This is a nicely themed animated menu with Ed Shearmur's score. Simple navigation and no clutter make this a winning menu in my eyes. Everything but the trailer for The Terminal is presented in 1.78:1 complete with 16x9 enhancement. Interestingly, most of the footage in the featurettes has also been shot progressive scan, therefore matching beautifully with the clips from the film. There should be more of it.

Audio Commentary

     This is a very funny and entertaining commentary from director Richard Loncraine and actor Paul Bettany. Thankfully both are present at the same time in the studio at the time of recording so there is a great deal of chatting between the two including lots of friendly bickering. Between the many jokes and funny anecdotes there are also plenty of details about the production including shooting during the actual Wimbledon tournament. In one particular instance, a match was delayed for 20 minutes to allow filming to be completed. A great commentary and well worth a listen.

Featurette - Welcome To The Club (3:01)

     This featurette focuses on the venue of Wimbledon itself and includes a short interview with the Chairman Tim Phillips who, prior to the shooting of this film, was the only person allowed to play on centre court outside of the Wimbledon tournament.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes, Ball Control (4:48)

     The photography including the use of CGI is covered in this featurette. We also get to see how some of the more spectacular shots were achieved using motion control and time-slice (bullet-time) technology. As I previously mentioned, these are shots you're never likely to see on broadcast tennis.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes, Coach A Rising Star (2:52)

     This featurette looks at the challenge of making actors look like professional tennis players. It includes a short interview with our very own Pat Cash who played the role of tennis coach and advisor for the actors during the production.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes, Wimbledon: A Look Inside (9:45)

     This is the more in-depth of the four featurettes and is a broad look at the characters and the actors. It includes interview grabs from arguably the biggest mouth in tennis, John McEnroe.

Trailers

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 4 version misses out on:

     The Region 1 version misses out on:

     My experience has been that a 754Kbs DTS 5.1 track exhibits little improvement in sound quality over a 448Kbs Dolby Digital 5.1 track, but if your equipment is good enough you will notice it. Having said that, Widescreen Review states that the DTS track on the Region 1 disc is "slightly more enveloping, with more defined effects, and a tighter, more delineated frequency range" compared to the Dolby Digital track. My general rule of thumb is: everything else being about equal DTS will always tilt the scales. Region 1 is the version of choice in my view, especially if you can get it for the same price or cheaper.

Summary

     Wimbledon is a refreshingly entertaining romantic comedy with a witty script and fine performances.

     The video transfer is excellent as long as you're not averse to aliasing.

     The audio transfer is excellent with a terrific, aggressive surround mix.

     The featurettes are a little light and fluffy but the commentary more than makes up for this.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ben Hooft (My biography. Go on have a read...)
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A, SACD & DVD-A, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe CT-1170 (66cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D1011, THX Select, DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS 96/24 & DD 5.1 EX
SpeakersFront & Centre: Monitor Audio Bronze 2, Surrounds: Sony SS-SRX7S, Surround Back: Paramount Pictures Bookshelf Speakers

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