The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)

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Released 12-Aug-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Featurette-Robert Redford: Insight Into The Legend of Bagger Vance
Featurette-Production Featurette
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid DVD Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 121:15
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:46) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Redford
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Will Smith
Matt Damon
Charlize Theron
Case ?
RPI $26.95 Music Rachel Portman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/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 Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I always enjoy films that use sport as a metaphor for the struggles of life, and I'm particularly fond of golf films. Call me strange, but I've even got a bit of a soft spot for the Kevin Costner flick Tin Cup. Maybe it's because I'm such a hack on the fairways, and to see a story where the hack usually triumphs over the good players spurs me on to greater things. It hasn't happened yet - but I'm still trying!

    Directed by Robert Redford, The Legend Of Bagger Vance stars Matt Damon as Rannulph Junuh, a young man scarred by the perils of The Great War, but now back home in Savannah, Georgia. Before the war, Junuh was a champion golfer, winning every local tournament around and having basically the perfect swing. He also enjoyed the affections of the prettiest girl in town, Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron), daughter of one of the wealthiest men in town who also happens to be developing a ritzy country club style golf course. But the war left a lasting scar on the young champion and when he returns home, he has lost touch with his girl and worse still, he has lost his swing. Becoming a virtual recluse and finding solace in vices like drink and cards, he is a shadow of his former self. Deep into the Great Depression, Adele has inherited the country club after her father, desperate in his battle to keep the creditors from his door, commits suicide. Adele must fight against the local bankers who want to sell off the club for their own gain and she must come up with a plan to save the course. Her solution is to hold an invitation-only exhibition tournament, with the two biggest names in golf, Bobby Jones (Joel Gretsch) and Walter Hagen (Bruce McGill) battling each other for a winner-take-all  $10,000 purse. The bankers will only agree if a local player is also given the chance to take part, but finding a suitable candidate will be difficult. That is, until local lad Hardy Greaves (J. Michael Moncrief) makes it known that he knows where former golden boy Rannulph Junuh can be found and that he can entice him to enter. Junuh is obviously reluctant, but after some prompting from Greaves he agrees. Problem is, he still can't find his swing, and so he embarks on a rigorous practice regimen in an effort to find it. This is when the mysterious Bagger Vance (Will Smith) appears. Vance is a young man who seems to have the answer to all of golf's (and subsequently life's) problems. He offers several words of wisdom to Junuh and agrees to caddy for him in the tournament. In helping him find his swing he is also helping Junuh get his life back together and hopefully become a better person for it.

    The story is told from the perspective of Hardy Greaves many years later when he is an old man (a cameo by Jack Lemmon), and while there is plenty to like about the plot, the delivery becomes a little tedious and obvious after the first hour. The cast do a fine job (the supports in particular), although the selection of Matt Damon just didn't quite gel for me. My wife commented that she didn't think he was old enough to be playing the lead character. I've read a couple of articles that suggest that Robert Redford was considering playing the character himself, which when I think long and hard about, might just have helped things along a bit, this being sort of a redemption-for-past-sins-type of story.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a very nice transfer overall, with plenty of highlights and few problems of any consequence.

    We are greeted with a transfer in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a sharp and detailed transfer, with little evidence of edge enhancement, save for a couple of trivial instances. Shadow detail is pretty decent, and although a couple of scenes feature less than stellar lighting, this is no fault of the transfer. There is minimal grain on a couple of the wider angle outdoor scenes, but it never becomes distracting. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are really quite nice. Skin tones are natural and blacks are solid. The use of early morning and late afternoon filtered light when out on the golf course provides a soft, yet rich colour scheme. The tans and browns so dominant during the depression era are also well represented. There are no problems with colour bleeding, posterization, or oversaturation.

    I noticed no MPEG artefacts. Film to video artefacts were present, but limited to a couple of minor (though slightly irritating) instances of aliasing. These occurred at 2:52 on some brickwork, and at 51:02 on a fairway of the golf course. Film artefacts were basically non-existent which is pretty much as expected for such a recent film.

    I sampled the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles extensively and found that while not being 100% accurate, they helped out on numerous occasions when the rich Southern drawl got the better of me.

    This is a dual layered disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change isn't great, but it will do, with no disruption to the flow of dialogue, but it is very noticeable. It's at 69:46 if you are interested.

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

Audio

    Only one audio track graces this disc, but it is a beauty. It's an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at a bitrate of 384 Kb/s. This track features far more dynamic range than I was expecting, with plenty of separation across the channels, including loads of surround use, and even some really nice rumbling bass from the subwoofer.

    Being based in the deep south of the US, there are some issues with the clarity of the dialogue, with the slow Southern drawl much in use. Some of the words and phrases used are obviously particular to the region and the era and may be unfamiliar to many local viewers. There are no problems with audio sync.

    The score is by Rachel Portman, and while being fairly conventional in its sweeping orchestrations, still provides some poignant moments.

    There is loads of surround channel use, which surprised me a little. Check out the best examples at 6:12, and between 66:00-67:00.

    Somewhat surprisingly, the subwoofer saw considerable action, most notably early on in the piece when the WWI scenes saw plenty of booms and bangs.

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

Extras

    The rental-only release of this disc had nothing in the way of extras. Unfortunately, the sell-through version fares little better with only a handful of brief and rather ordinary supplements. There is no commentary, no documentary on Bobby Jones or Walter Hagen, and no documentary on why golf is the most frustrating game in existence.

Main Menu Introduction

Featurette - Robert Redford - An Insight into the Legend of Bagger Vance

    Despite the grand sounding title, this is really a fluff piece that only features still images from the film and behind-the-scenes action, with a commentary narrative from director Robert Redford. Running for 4:15 minutes and presented full screen 1.33:1 its purpose is to allow Redford the opportunity to explain the story and why he was captivated by the book.

Featurette - Production Featurette

    Running for 3:33 minutes, this is your stock standard promotional piece that features the stars in their 5 minute interview grab segments, discussing why the love the script, love the director, love each other, and so on. Fluff by any other name. Images from the film are presented in 1.85:1 letterbox only, with the interviews in 1.33:1 fullscreen.

Theatrical Trailer

    The original theatrical trailer, this one runs for 2:22 minutes and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and comes complete with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is standard Dolby Digital 2.0.

Teaser Trailer

    The shorter version of the trailer. This one runs for only 1:26 minutes. Again, the aspect ratio is 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhancement is used.

Production Notes

    The usual stuff such as casting and the like, presented on several pages of easily read text. Nothing to really get excited over.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Comprehensive bios for eighteen of the stars including Matt Damon, Will Smith, and Charlize Theron, and most of the important crew members.

Trailer - Other Robert Redford Recommendation: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

    A brief 57 second trailer for the DVD release of the above title.

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 of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    While the inclusion of a dts soundtrack is certainly a bonus for the Region 1 disc, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on the Region 4 title is still very, very good and as such I will still lean in favour of the superior PAL formatting and far more affordable price.

Summary

    Lots of corny "pearls of wisdom" abound in this try-too-hard heartwarming tale. The casting is quite good, save for perhaps a too-young Matt Damon. I still enjoyed the golf scenes, with especially what seemed like quite accurate representations of the game in the depression era, complete with hickory shaft clubs. At the end of the day, this is a moderately pleasant way of spending a couple of hours and now if I can just work out where the heck "my one true authentic swing" is I'll be happy. Mine must be buried a long way down!

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The sole audio soundtrack is superb, with plenty of low-end oomph and surround use.

    The extras really don't cut it, and make this release not much better than the extra-free rental-only version.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Saturday, August 10, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
Bagger Vance - Pan & Scan??? - Colin Johnson REPLY POSTED
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