Any Given Sunday (1999)

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Released 17-Jan-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation-#1
Listing-Cast & Crew-#1
Audio Commentary-#1:Oliver Stone (Director)
Audio Commentary-#1:Cast & Crew
Isolated Musical Score-#1
Theatrical Trailer-#1:2.35:1, 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:21)
DVD-ROM Extras-#2:Trivia Game, Script To Screen, Virtual Edit Suite
DVD-ROM Extras-#2:Essay, Reviews, Web Link, Sound Hits
Featurette-#2:Jamie Foxx Audition Tape (3:23)/Screen Tests (2, 3:24)
Featurette-#2:Full Contact-The Making of Any Given Sunday (27:09)
Music Video-#2:Shut 'Em Down-LL Cool J (3:40)
Music Video-#2:My Name is Willie-Jamie Foxx (1:49)
Music Video-#2:Any Given Sunday-Jamie Foxx (3:27)
Deleted Scenes-#2:+/- Director's Commentary (32:36)
Outtakes-#2:(4:13)
Featurette-#2:Football Outtakes Montage (8:30)
Featurette-#2:Miscellaneous Landscapes and Outtakes Montage (3:28)
Gallery-#2:The Art Of Selling
Featurette-#2:Stills Gallery
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 150:45
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:12)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Oliver Stone
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Al Pacino
Cameron Diaz
Dennis Quaid
James Woods
Jamie Foxx
LL Cool J
Matthew Modine
Charlton Heston
Ann-Margret
Aaron Eckhart
John C. McGinley
Case Alpha-Dual
RPI $36.95 Music Robbie Robertson
Paul Kelly
Richard Horowitz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
French
Spanish
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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

Plot Synopsis

    It seems that whenever Oliver Stone tackles a project, there are no half-measures adopted anywhere. This is probably no more illustrated than in this epic that tackles the subject of professional football - without any assistance from the almighty National Football League it should be added. This is a film that could have featured just about any professional sport, but just so happens to use American Football, so even if you are not a fan of the sport, this can still be related to your favourite professional sport with consummate ease. It is basically telling the story of the changing of the guard as old ideas like team and the game are buried in a mass of media spotlight, money, drug dependency, player exploitation and egos. Let it be said very early that this is a very realistic look at the phenomenon, again no matter what the sport.

    Thankfully I am a huge fan of American Football and jumped at the chance to review Any Given Sunday. As a long time fan of the Green Bay Packers, the last survivor in major professional sport in America that still has roots in small town USA, this is an especially apt film for me. It is doubtful that no team more than my beloved Packers has suffered at the hands of the changing of professional sports in the television age, yet they continue to survive and thrive in the National Football League. The team gives you some perspective as to the issues being raised by Oliver Stone in the film - a professional sports teams based in a small town of about 300,000 in Wisconsin, it is hard for them to compete with the big boys based out of places like Miami with their populations of millions. Yet they do, and have an almost religious following such that every home game is sold out on a season ticket basis (the revered Lambeau Field is to be extended to cope with the demand) and the season ticket waiting list alone would make just about every Australian sporting team green with envy. So given my deep interest in this great sport, there was a fair chance that I would enjoy the film - a film that takes a no-holds-barred look at professional sports, warts and all. It is not especially hard to see why the National Football League were reluctant to support the film - it certainly does not gloss over some of the serious issues facing football, amongst many other professional sports. How accurate is the film? I would take serious note of the lack of National Football League support as a fair indication that this is close to the mark. The fact that such revered names in football as Jim Brown (of Cleveland Browns fame and arguably the greatest running back of all time), Lawrence Taylor (of New York Giants fame and the greatest linebacker of all time), Bob St Clair (of San Francisco 49ers fame), Y.A. Tittle (also of San Francisco 49ers fame), Johnny Unitas (of Baltimore Colts fame) and Dick Butkus (of Chicago Bears fame) agreed to appear in the film, and in the case of Lawrence Taylor more than just cameo in the film, certainly weighs heavily in favour of the film. After all, these six gentlemen are all members of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

    Any Given Sunday is broadly the story of the Miami Sharks, a fictional pro football team playing out of the Orange Bowl. They are a team at the crossroads. After being used to success, the team now finds itself on the slide and young owner Christina Pagniacci (Cameron Diaz) is determined to return the team to its former glory. To do so, things need to change, but one thing that has not changed is incumbent coach Tony D'Amato (Al Pacino), who sees nothing wrong with sticking with the tried and tested methods he has used for years. After three straight losses, the pressure is mounting on Coach D'Amato for a win, but things go from bad to worse when veteran quarterback and team leader Jack "Cap" Rooney (Dennis Quaid) goes down with a serious back injury. Things go from worse to even worse when the second string quarterback goes down with an injury on the very next play. Cue third string quarterback Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx), a journeyman player who never expected to play and is thrown into the deep end. The major participants are rounded out by Dr Harvey Mandrake (James Woods), the head medico of the team who sees nothing wrong with doing whatever is necessary to satisfy the team. This includes administering drugs to assist players getting onto the field when they should be prevented from doing so, as well as falsifying medical reports in order to toe the line demanded by management. The emergence of Willie as a star player leads to disharmony in the team that threatens the very core of the concept, as he proceeds to rub just about every player the wrong way, not the least of which is star running back Julian Washington (LL Cool J). What follows is the slow unravelling of the team, both on and off the gridiron, as the season progresses towards its conclusion, with a place in the playoffs as the goal of management, then the slow patching of differences as the team comes together for a playoff run - and a rebirth of sorts amongst the main players as they conquer their own personal walls.

    Whilst I would be loathe to suggest that this is is the greatest screenplay that has ever come from Oliver Stone, it does have its moments and these are most especially noticeable in the reasonably decent characterizations that we see of most of the main cast. This certainly benefits Al Pacino and Cameron Diaz in particular, as they certainly have a fair chance to create two solid characters. It is not so beneficial to James Woods for instance, whose character does not get a whole-hearted run here. Still, with so many parts with lines, I guess certain major roles have to miss out to accommodate those minor roles. Unfortunately it does mean that Lauren Holly gets barely any on-screen presence at all, which is a bit of a shame. But it should also be understood that being part of a team involves sacrifices, and that would certainly account for some roles not being as prominent as perhaps would be expected in a film. At least Oliver Stone does it his way rather then toeing the usual Hollywood line of a couple of major stars and sod all else. However, beyond the performances, what stands out here to me is the cinematography with plenty of on-field stuff that really does try and highlight the game from a player's perspective. It certainly achieves much of the aim and the result is something that I would rate as one of the best films about professional sport that I have seen.

    Not the very best that Oliver Stone has ever done, but a darn good film nonetheless. Whilst the sport chosen may alienate sections of the film viewing public, this should not be seen as a wholly American Football film but rather a look at the grotesque and more unseemly aspects of any professional sport, where money rules above all else.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Well it is a recent film so we have every right I guess to expect a fine transfer. This has sure been given one, to the extent that my trusty notepad is devoid of any substantive comments about negative aspects of the transfer.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is very close to the theatrical ratio of 2.40:1. It is 16x9 enhanced, as we should expect of every widescreen release.

    Apart from those scenes that are intentionally diffuse and without any sort of form (to highlight the lack of clarity of persons suffering severe head injuries such as concussions), this is another wonderfully sharp and detailed transfer. Whilst it has been shot at times to de-emphasize foreground detail to falsely highlight shadow detail, the overall shadow detail is very good indeed. This is a wonderfully clear transfer and you would not find anything hidden here at all. Everything just jumps out at you as far as the transfer is concerned. There is no hint of grain in the transfer and low level noise is equally non-existent.

    One thing stands out immediately as far as colour is concerned: the all black uniforms worn by the Miami Sharks look all black. Given that a really good solid black is often difficult to capture on film, it is a bold move indeed to go with this predominant colour scheme but it succeeds wonderfully well. In general the colours in the film, despite the vast predominance of darker colours at times, come up brilliantly and very vibrant. The overall appearance of the transfer is extremely natural, and the bright vibrant colours certainly go a long way to setting the right sort tone for the Miami setting - which after all considers itself a bright, vibrant city. Yet despite the bright palette of colours at times, saturation is just about spot on throughout and there is no hint of any oversaturation in the transfer. There also was not any evidence of any colour bleed in the transfer.

    Artefacts? Nothing of any significance at all, unless you count a couple of extremely minor hints of aliasing that are barely noticeable in the overall flow of the film. There was very little evidence of any film artefacts either, and overall this is a truly superb transfer in every respect. The words reference quality get banded around a little, but if you are looking for a true reference quality transfer this is as good as you can get. This is especially so since there are significant night time sequences and even then there is no let down in the quality on offer.

    The two DVD set comprises one RSDL formatted DVD for the main feature and one Dual Layer formatted DVD for the extras package. The layer change occurs at 74:12 in the main feature, which is mid-scene: despite this, it is well handled and is hardly noticeable and barely disruptive to the flow of the film. The second DVD is presumed to be Dual Layer as no layer change was noted during any of the extras on the DVD.

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

Audio

    There are five soundtracks on offer on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, an English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, a second English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack and a Dolby Digital 5.1 Isolated Music Score. I listened to the whole of the English default soundtrack as well as most of the first and second Audio Commentaries. I only briefly sampled the Isolated Music Score.

    The dialogue is clear and easy to understand in the soundtrack, especially within the context of the style of the film. There were no problems with audio sync in the transfer.

    The original musical score is credited to Robbie Robertson, Paul Kelly and Richard Horowitz. However, its role is very limited, as the bulk of the music in the film is all popular music that ties in very well to the sorts of activities the characters would be indulging in, as well as the mood of the film. Oliver Stone in his commentary suggests that there are over 100 pieces of music used in the film - I would not like to argue!

    Just as the video transfer could be considered reference quality, the audio transfer is not far short of that mark either. Since a lot of the film is set during games, where plenty of peripheral ambience would be noted even though the focus would be the on-field action, this film needed strong surround channel use in order to succeed. It got it aplenty. In many instances the surround channel use, especially through the rear channels, is quite subtle, but it adds so much to what is going on in the film that if it were not there, it would be sadly missed. Even when the focus is on Willie Beamen as he concentrates on what is happening on-field, the action through the surrounds really conveys the blocking-out effect. The bass channel gets a fair old workout here, but thankfully it is an entirely natural sounding effort with no unnecessary emphasis on the bass. I was sort of dreading this as I envisaged plenty of huge bass effects to accompany the on-field hits, but there was nothing unnatural here at all. Definitely one of those rare instances where the sound engineers were well in tune with what the film was trying to achieve. The whole soundtrack is nice and open without any hint of congestion, which is what really helps make this shine. About the only thing I could fault here would be the fact that we did not get a higher 448 Kb/s bitrate soundtrack like the Region 1 release.

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

Extras

    Whoa! You want extras? You got them! This is a seriously loaded package, and to make the situation even better, some of it is not actually just filler but genuinely enhances the viewing experience. These 2 DVD releases that are loaded to the gills with extras, available at the same price as single DVDs I might add, are certainly excellent value and are really highlighting those distributors who are willing to go the extra distance to provide true value to the customer. It is also probably not coincidental that they are very heavy sellers in the marketplace as a result.

Menu

    Decent enough and with some decent audio and animation enhancements to boot. All menus are 16x9 enhanced.

Disc One:

Listing - Cast and Crew

    The one true regret in the package - could it have been too much to expect to have full cast and crew biographies rather than just a listing? Disappointing indeed.

Audio Commentary - Oliver Stone (Director)

    This is one essential audio commentary all right. When a man of the stature of Oliver Stone, known for doing things his way, sits down to commit his thoughts to tape, there is plenty to be garnered from the result. Whilst not the most engaging commentary I have ever heard, the extent of the additional information you gain here more than outweighs the nature of the presentation itself. Not especially screen specific, it is nonetheless a treasure trove of background information that is essential listening. Take the time to listen to this effort - I doubt that you will be disappointed.

Audio Commentary - Cast and Crew

    Quite why this is listed as cast and crew I don't rightly know, for whilst I did not check it all out, what I did check out is all from Jamie Foxx. This is a vastly different commentary track to that of Oliver Stone on several levels. For starters, it is a minimalist commentary inasmuch as there is plenty of silence between the anecdotal information provided. Whilst some of the insights are useful to understanding the effort that went into the making of the film, others seem a tad superfluous. Not the greatest effort committed to DVD, but if you can put up with the silence, some insights can be gathered.

Isolated Music Score

    An ideal opportunity to just check out the music selections for the film in very good sound.

Theatrical Trailer (2:21)

    Another typical example of modern film promotion presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Nothing much wrong with it at all.

Disc Two:

Pregame:

Featurette - Jamie Foxx Audition Tape (3:23)

    Otherwise known as the Football Home Video, this is the home video made by Jamie Foxx in order to demonstrate his credentials for the role of Willie Beamen. Since it is home video, obviously it is presented in a Full Frame aspect ratio and it is not 16x9 enhanced. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 but it is not too hot, in keeping with the general quality of the tape - typical home video standard and not much more. Interesting in a more general sense rather than specific to the film.

Featurette - Jamie Foxx Screen Tests (2) (3:24)

    This comprises two tests, the first being The Lunch (1:21) and the second being Willie and Vanessa At The Cordoza Hotel (2:03) - both scenes are in the film. Again these are presented in a Full Frame format and are not 16x9 enhanced. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0. Again interesting in a more general sense about the way actors are chosen rather than specifically interesting regarding the film. Quality is a little ropey, as is to be expected. There appears to be some pixelization of the film at around 0:15 of the second screen test.

Featurette - Full Contact: The Making Of Any Given Sunday (27:09)

    A fairly typical example of the half hour featurettes made by Home Box Office for the First Look show. Plenty of interview material mixed in with excerpts from the film. Personally I found this to be a little less interesting than perhaps it should have been. I would have preferred less of the excerpts and more interview and behind the scenes stuff. Presented in a Full Frame format, with the excerpts from the film being in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. This suffers somewhat from aliasing, but nothing too distractingly bad.

Halftime:

Music Video - Shut 'Em Down LL Cool J (3:40)

    The only genuine music video of the three on offer in this section of the package. Can't say that the music enthrals me all that much, but your mileage may vary. Presented in a Full Frame format, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. No big deal as far as I am concerned.

Music Video - My Name Is Willie Jamie Foxx (1:49)

    This is actually just the section of the film extracted out and given the impression of being a music video. Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Generally less welcome than the first music video.

Music Video - Any Given Sunday Jamie Foxx (3:27)

    This appears to be just the section at the end of the movie extracted out and again given the impression of being a music video. Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, it is 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Ho hum.

Postgame:

Deleted and Extended Scenes (32:36)

    This comprises 14 different elements, which can be listened to with either the original production sound (that is, before any ADR work) or with a commentary by Oliver Stone. Don't get your hopes up too much though as he has barely anything to say about the scenes. They are all presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, are not 16x9 enhanced and come with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Some are genuinely interesting and help the understanding of certain aspects of the film, others are just filler. A pity that the commentary was not little more informative as to why the scenes were cut and so on (although film length is the obvious reason I suppose). The only serious bummer here is that for some reason we have to suffer a myriad of copyright notices right after the conclusion of these scenes.

Outtakes/Gag Reel (4:13)

    Some outtakes and gag reels are essential viewing and really convey the spirit present during the making of the film. Others fall flat on their face and are a real waste of space. This collection barely scrapes out of the latter category and certainly does not approach the former. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Featurette - Football Outtakes Montage (8:30)

    This is not so much outtakes as a collection of football game images that simply were not used in the final film. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Okay but nothing to write home about.

Featurette - Miscellaneous Landscapes and Outtakes Montage (3:28)

    Ditto, but even less essential. Really nothing much more than filler.

Gallery - The Art Of Selling

    A collection of twenty stills showing the various designs for the promotional posters for the film, along with a whole bunch of concepts that were not proceeded with. Interesting enough. Unusually, these are presented in a 16x9 enhanced format.

Gallery - Stills

    A collection of 122 stills either taken from the film or shot during the making of the film, regrettably unannotated. They are actually presented with some musical accompaniment, which is a nice change. I cannot honestly say that these are essential but are mildly interesting. Again they are unusually presented in a 16x9 enhanced format.

DVD-ROM Extras

    Throw Disc One into the DVD-ROM drive and it won't do much more than play the movie. However if you throw Disc Two into the DVD-ROM drive, our familiar little friend PCFriendly fires up, you get a bit of decent animation and end up at the main menu where your two choices are: Play Movie and Playbook. We are concerned here with the second choice, so selecting it leads us into the following:

Special Online Events

    This is just an automated link to the website www.warnervideo.com/dvdevents, which would appear to be a seriously out of date site promoting the four Oscars won by The Matrix and an event that was held last 23rd March. I could find nothing specifically relating to Any Given Sunday and therefore was doubly annoyed by the fact that once you go to the website you cannot return directly to the DVD.

Training Camp

    This comprises three sections:

Scoreboard

    This comprises two sections:

Original Theatrical Website

    Just a direct clickable link to the film's website, where there is plenty more information about the film if you care to indulge it.

Sound Hits

    Just a promotion for the soundtrack album, with a clickable link to the Atlantic Records website where you can order the CD.

Other Links

    Naturally the DVD-ROM content offers the usual clickable links to assorted Warner Bros websites.

R4 vs R1

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

    This one is a little hard to do as there is no direct equivalent DVD in Region 1 available to buy. Before you email me to lambaste me, just hear me out.

    The DVD available to buy on its own in Region 1 appears to be a single DVD release that contains the film, which by the way is an extended director's cut, and a limited package of extras comprising the theatrical trailer, making of featurette and the LL Cool J music video. Accordingly, that release is vastly inferior to the Region 4 release and if you are wanting the film alone, Region 4 is the standout winner by such a long way it is not funny - especially as the landed price in Australia would be not much less than you could pick this up for locally at one of the chain stores (mine set me back $29.85).

    The online reviews of this single DVD release would indicate a similarly excellent video and audio transfer by the way.

    However, if you are a hard-core Oliver Stone fan, you might be interested in the 10 DVD Oliver Stone Collection available as a box set in Region 1. Any Given Sunday is included in this box set in its 2 DVD version, and from what I can find out it would seem to be pretty much similar to the normal Region 4 release. However, to get this 2 DVD version you would have to be indulging serious dollars as the set goes for around the USD200 mark - hence the reason it would be for serious fans only. As far as I can ascertain the 2 DVD version is not available separately yet, although it may become so available later, or may be so available where a retailer has broken up the box set. However, even if it were to become available separately, I would have serious doubts as to whether it would offer any substantial improvement over the Region 4 release.

Summary

    Any Given Sunday is not one of Oliver Stone's masterpieces, but is nonetheless a most enjoyable film. Certainly it would rank as one of the best sports films that I have seen. The film is given a superb audio and video transfer, and a serious extras package that does contain some essential gems. Indeed, on many levels this is a reference quality DVD and its value for money is undisputed. Well worth getting your hands on this one. Interestingly, this is the first appearance of the dual alpha case that I so like in Region 4. A vastly better case than that employed by Columbia TriStar for its 2 DVD sets, about the only way this could be improved is if a genuine Amaray case produced in the same format was available.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ian Morris (Biological imperfection run amok)
Monday, February 05, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-795
SpeakersEnergy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL

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