Million Dollar Baby: 2-Disc Deluxe Edition (2004)

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Released 7-Jul-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer
Featurette-Born To Fight
Featurette-Producer's Round 15
Interviews-Cast-James Lipton Takes On Three
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 127:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:19)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Clint Eastwood
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Clint Eastwood
Hilary Swank
Morgan Freeman
Jay Baruchel
Mike Colter
Lucia Rijker
Brian F. O'Byrne
Anthony Mackie
Margo Martindale
Riki Lindhome
Michael Pena
Benito Martinez
Bruce MacVittie
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Clint Eastwood


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

"Girly, tough ain't enough"

    Is there a film genre filled with more clichés and formulaic plot structure than that of the sports film in general and the boxing film in particular? The story of the down-on-his luck would-be champion and the grizzled and gruff trainer who carries a chip on his shoulder the size of Mike Tyson's ego, who together form a team so formidable they can take on anyone and do just that in their pursuit of the predictable ending is a plot line done to death. If this sounds all-too-familiar, and as a result boxing films just aren't your cup of tea, then do not dismiss Million Dollar Baby as just another boxing movie as you would be missing one of the most thought provoking and satisfying films of recent years. This is a film that is multi-layered and goes well beyond the simple need to win a boxing match and cement the friendship between two unlikely protagonists. It features boxing, and training for that matter, as key elements to the story, but with a stunning third act delivered with a punch you will most certainly not see coming - in fact, you will almost forget what sport is central to the earlier parts of the story as questions of life and dignity are brought to the fore.

    At an age when most people are considering slowing down as they enter the autumn years of their lives, 75-year-old Clint Eastwood is proving himself to be the classy elder statesman of Hollywood. Following up from 2003's Mystic River, a film which garnered two Academy Awards for acting (but not the directing gong for Eastwood), comes this superb tale about a female boxer, the trainer who befriends her and the journey they take. Eastwood's amazingly unhurried storytelling pace, coupled with his simple yet classy direction and the relaxed performances of the three stars make this one of the most satisfying films of recent years.

    Oscar winner Hilary Swank is Maggie Fitzgerald, a woman who at age 31 wants to box professionally, but is considered by most to be too old. Out of desperation she approaches boxing trainer and gym owner Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood), hoping that he will train her. But Frankie doesn't train girls and he tells her so in no uncertain terms. Besides he says, she is too old and it would be a waste of time.

    But Maggie has come too far and endured too much to give up. The product of a hopeless trailer trash family and with no real career prospects other than a rotten waitress job, Maggie doesn't have much else to live for aside from her boxing, so she persists. She befriends Eddie "Scrap-Iron" Dupris (Morgan Freeman), a former boxer and now Frankie's friend and gym manager. Eddie sees something special in Maggie and secretly lets her train at the gym. When Frankie loses his main contender to another manager he finds he has time on his hands and finally, though somewhat reluctantly, agrees to help out Maggie - at least until she can get a proper trainer. As would be expected the partnership blossoms, and pretty soon Maggie finds herself heading for a world championship bout.

    To say any more will spoil one of the more dramatic story shifts seen in recent times. The audience will have the rug pulled from under their feet just when they think Million Dollar Baby is heading down the same old road of cliché-soaked sports films. What Eastwood and screenwriter Paul Haggis have delivered here is nothing short of sensational. Based on the writings of F.X Toole, this is haunting, thought-provoking and heart-wrenching, and all without a trace of sap or sentimentality.

    A truly great film that will no doubt be called a classic in years to come. Let's hope Clint Eastwood has a few more gems like these up his sleeve before he retires for good.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    A recent Academy Award-winning and big budget film deserves a pristine transfer and I can say this gets one. It is near on perfect.

    The video transfer on offer here is presented in a ratio of 2.40:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharp and well defined detail is evident throughout. Thankfully, there is no major edge enhancement to be concerned about. Shadow detail does seem at first to be slightly compromised on a couple of occasions, but in the interviews with Clint Eastwood it would appear this lack of clarity at certain times is an artistic choice. Grain is virtually non-existent and there is also no low level noise.

    The colours aren't exactly vibrant with the confines of the gym appearing fairly dull. The only time the colours really open up is during some of the boxing bouts.

    There are no compression artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts are also absent and there are no film artefacts of any note which is always pleasing.

    There is just one subtitle stream available, this being the standard English fare. They are accurate and well placed on the screen.

    Disc one (which contains the film) is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change occurs mid-scene at 62:19.

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

Audio

    There are no less than four audio soundtracks available for Million Dollar Baby, and I'm pleased to say we are treated to something of a rarity these days, especially on a Roadshow release, a dts soundtrack.

    Soundtracks present include an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at the higher bitrate of 448 Kb/s, an English dts soundtrack encoded at the lower bitrate of 768 Kb/s, a Dolby Digital 2.0 track with surround flag present in the bitstream and an audio descriptive track. The latter track is presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 and is encoded at 224 Kb/s. It also would appear to have been recorded in Australia given the unmistakable local accent of the speaker. It is one of the more detailed descriptive tracks I have heard to date, with the young lady doing the narration describing every scene in minute detail, right down to the clothes the characters are wearing.

    The comments following apply equally to the dts and Dolby Digital soundtracks, with both extremely high quality tracks which will not disappoint. The dts track would be the version of choice, solely based on the marginally more pronounced and solid lower end. Both offer superb separation, heaps of solid, clean grunt, and some really well-mixed panning effects, especially during the boxing bouts and gym training sessions. These are both modern soundtracks that will give your amplifier some serious work to do when required, but will also sail through those moments where the film pauses in a quieter and more reflective moment.

    The dialogue levels are fine and there are no audio sync problems.

    Just as was the case with the film Mystic River, the multi-talented Clint Eastwood is again responsible for the score here. It benefits from the same unhurried feel as the Million Dollar Baby story, with a relatively simple piano melody delivered at a consistent pace.

    There is plenty of surround channel use throughout the film, with the levels varying between highly aggressive down to a subtle ambience. The boxing bouts are where the sound stage opens up widely and surrounds the listener, enveloping you in amongst the sweat and liniment to perfection.

    There's plenty for the subwoofer to keep itself occupied with, especially during the aforementioned boxing matches.



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

Extras

    The extras for this four-time Academy Award winner are a bit of an odd bag, which at first glance seem to be almost non-existent. Light on quantity, they certainly make up for it in quality, with virtually no padding here. There is no pointless or self-congratulatory fluff-piece to be seen. Despite the fact that there is no commentary track, the extras we do get are quality and classy, befitting the nature of the film.

Main Menu Introduction

Menu Animation & Audio

Dolby Digital Trailer

Featurette - Born To Fight

    This is not so much a traditional making-of but more of a series of interviews with the key cast members (including Clint Eastwood) focusing on their thoughts of the film and boxing in general. Insightful, and not a trace of promotional fluff is anywhere to be found. A word of warning - there are some serious plot spoilers found towards the end. Runs for 19:13.

Featurette - Producer's Round 15

    An intriguing 13:03 featurette featuring interviews with producers Al Ruddy and Tom Rosenburg and scriptwriter Paul Haggis. The trio articulately explain how the short story by author F.X. Toole made it to the screen. Interesting.

Interviews-Cast

    The best of the extras, this one is titled James Lipton Take On Three. Running for a healthy 24:47 it features a round table discussion with Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman just after the Academy Awards ceremony where the film claimed four Oscars (the gongs are on the table). Interviewer Lipton asks a few of the standard questions asked of stars but also manages to coax a fair amount out of Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman in particular about the craft of acting. Unfortunately Clint Eastwood must have had a big night celebrating and is a little on the quiet side, revealing only a little of his unique directorial style (the story about why he doesn't shout "action" is quite amusing).

Theatrical Trailer

    A quality and classy trailer for a quality and classy film. Runs for 2:20 and sets up the plot nicely, offering a snippet of some of the deep characterisations slowly built in the film without showing any of the climatic and unexpected third act.

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 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    Unless you have a desperate desire to own the musical score on a separate compact disc, the Region 4 is probably the best option given it contains the exact same extras content plus scores the bonus of a dts soundtrack.

Summary

    Million Dollar Baby is undoubtedly one of the films of the year. Director Clint Eastwood has once again proven himself a master of the filmmaking craft as he takes the tired and incredibly formulaic boxing genre and turns it on its head, delivering a multi-layered film that hits with a stunning upper cut for the final climax. Million Dollar Baby will be looked at in 20 years time as easily one of the best films of the boxing genre and one the greatest films of the early 21st century - without a doubt.

    The video and audio presentations are superb, with the inclusion of a rip-roaring dts soundtrack an added bonus.

    The extras are quite limited in number but are slickly produced with little in the way of cheap padding.

    A must-own disc in any fan's library.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, August 08, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
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Subwoofer - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.) REPLY POSTED