CINDERELLA MAN (Blu-ray Edition)|
Universal Studios | 2005 | 145 mins | Rated PG-13 | May 26, 2009
Written by David Hillyer
May 30, 2009
I went into watching the Blu-ray edition of Cinderella Man with a bit of apathy. I had seen the movie a few years ago on DVD. It is a great film; far better than any of the Rocky movies, but I just got tired of the glut of movies out recently about the underdog overcoming the odds. But I watched Cinderella Man again, and it really made me appreciate great filmmaking over all these studios just trying to make money off of someone's difficult life story.
Cinderella Man is the true story of Jim Braddock (played by Russell Crowe). He was a good boxer in the late 1920's. So much so, that he made a nice life for his family. They had a nice house, a car, owned a taxi company, and had lots of stock. But then the stock market crashed in 1929 and they lost everything. A lot of people did. They spent several years in poverty with Braddock fighting just to make enough to get food for his children. He fought so often that he broke his hand and lost his boxing license. Through working on the docks, Jim gradually built up enough strength to get his punch back. Before too long he was again fighting for the title with the working class people of the country in his corner.
The casting is impeccable. Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger star as the Braddock's, with a supporting cast of Paul Giamatti, Bruce McGill (“D-Day” in Animal House) and many others. The supporting cast is amazing right down to the extras in the stands.
This Universal catalog title uses the same menu template as Friday Night Lights, Field of Dreams and others. While it is easy to navigate and make bookmarks, there is an annoyance. If you pause the movie, the Universal screen saver will come up. When you want to start watching the movie again, logically you would press the “play” button. But that is not allowed. You then might press the “pause” button to “un-pause” the movie. That is also not allowed. Instead you have to use the navigation button/wheel and press 'right' to get it going again. I'm certainly in favor of easy to use menus, but there is also something to be said for menus themed specifically to the movie.
Cinderella Man includes spoken language tracks in DTS HD 5.1 English, and regular DTS 5.1 Spanish and French. There are also three separate commentary tracks. One is with director Ron Howard, one with co-writer Akiva Goldsman, and the last with Co-writer Cliff Hollingsworth. All of them have bits and pieces to give and share slightly different perspectives on the film and life of Jim Braddock. Despite some lengthy gaps in the commentary, it is fascinating material for the die-hard film buff.
We start with 16 Deleted scenes with introduction by Ron Howard (standard definition, 36:24) and then we have The Fight Card: Casting Cinderella Man (standard definition, 22:59) casting director Jane Jenkins and director Ron Howard talk about the casting of the movie. For the Record: A History of Boxing (standard definition, 6:40) Angelo Dundee talked about boxing and how he adapted to the movie making process and Ringside Seats (standard definition, 9:11) novelist Norman Mailer sits with producer Brian Grazer, director Ron Howard, and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and talks about boxing as they go through the Braddock/Baer fight round by round. The Man, The Movie, The Legend: A Filmaking Journey (standard definition, 14:02). Ron Howard talks about the making of the film and Jim Braddock: The Friends and Family Behind the Legend (standard definition, 11:12) features voiceover by the real Jim Braddock and interviews with his child Howard.
Additional extras include Pre-Fight Preparations (standard definition, 25:15) Focus on Script, Creating the Reality, Russell's Transformation, Inflatable People and the you have Lights, Camera, Action: the fight from every angle (standard definition, 21:25) shows how they filmed the boxing sequences. Russell Crowe's Personal Journey: Becoming Jim Braddock (high definition, 27:51) a documentary called Jimmy the Boxer, which details the background of Russell Crowe's experience on the set, and for fight fans, Braddock vs. Baer Fight Footage (standard definition, 32:00) archival footage of the real heavyweight championship fight.
The Sound of the Bell (standard definition, 6:23) looks at the creation of the music soundtrack of Tom Newman, which ties into Cinderella Man music featurette (standard definition, 2:15) another series about Tom Newman's creation of the soundtrack. The Human Face of the Depression (standard definition, 6:03) one of the most powerful clips on this disc, includes photos and video clips from the 1929 stock market crash and the 1930's depression. It is eerily similar to what we are beginning to see in 2009. Photo Montage (standard definition, 3:14) the usual series of zoom-in's and out's on various photos of the production and Kodak Cinderella Man Gallery (standard definition, 2:03) a long commercial for Kodak with Cinderella Man photos mixed in.
I had some concerns about reviewing “catalog” movies. I was afraid the studios would just starting cranking out Blu-ray discs with the movie only, then if that sold well they might come out with a collectors edition with all the extras that should have been on the first release. But Universal has really done a nice job with this latest batch of older titles.
Cinderella Man is what Rocky should have been. The real story of an underdog who has a heart that's bigger than anything the world can throw at him. This movie is a worthy tribute to a good boxer, but also to a good man and the woman who stood with him.