Moneyball comes to Region Free UK Blu-ray complete with a stellar 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Sony have once again knocked it out of the park for this release, providing a rendition that’s strong on detail, rich with colour and refined with clarity. There’s really nothing to complain about here and, moreover, there is plenty to shout about, the presentation remaining one of the few perfect-10 video releases I’ve come across so far this year.
Detail is excellent throughout, both in terms of broad, sweeping landscape shots and close ups, with strong fine object detail that brings up every little intricate nuance of clothing, skin texture and setting captured within the frame. There’s absolutely no sign of edge enhancement, unwieldy DNR or digital defects, the image remaining devoid of anything in the least bit troubling. Indeed the grain level, whilst higher than the norm, adds to the gritty docu-drama approach of the film itself and feels totally stable throughout.
The colour scheme is rich with vibrant ball-park greens, mahogany browns and bright blue skies, contrasting the grimy clubhouse and some of the more dilapidated – or at least natural – locales. Skin tones are healthy and well-textured, and black levels are strong, allowing for deep night sequences, including some excellent shots of Pitt’s character sitting alone in the stadium listening to the radio. It’s a fantastic, immaculate, reference quality video presentation that maintains Sony’s consistently excellent track record.
Moneyball’s accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also remarkably potent, despite the lack of overt bombastic material. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely dominating the fronts and centre channels, with Pitt on reasonably restrained form, only occasionally having to raise his voice even if he frequently wants to. Effects are most definitely of the atmospheric variety, with the bustling stadium crowds; the crack of the balls being hit out of the park; the hubbub of the clubhouse and some bustling traffic or vehicle-related noises coming across as the high points in what is otherwise a very nuanced and subtle offering. Although this track crafts a wonderful little ambient environment, it would be nothing without the fantastic score that thrums along throughout and makes even the least suspecting moments come to life with palpable atmosphere. Overall a hard-to-fault track that just about nudges into the demo quality ranking in spite of the restrained material that it has to work with.
Although it is undoubtedly a shame that we don’t get an Audio Commentary or Picture-in-Picture Track, there are still a number of welcome, quality Featurettes as well as a few nice Deleted Scenes, all of which are presented in 1080p HD.
Moneyball: Playing the Game – A Complete Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of Moneyball runs at nearly 20 minutes and offers up a look at the production of the movie, from the set design to the costumes; the shooting locations to the baseball sequences, with the cast and crew on hand to offer up interview snippets about the project.
Drafting the Team offers up a 21-minute look at how they cast the movie; reflecting on the decision to cast a few key actors in main roles and then several retired baseball players to make up the team itself, again with cast and crew interview snippets reflecting on the choices.
Adapting Moneyball gives us 17 minutes of discussions on how they adapted the stats-driven book for the Big Screen, the writing process, the writers involved, and the key elements that made for an engaging drama.
Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game is 16 minutes reflection on the game-changer himself, Billy Beane, who is personally on hand to look back at his efforts to change baseball, alongside the author of the Moneyball book, Michael Lewis, the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and the director Bennett Miller.
Three fairly long deleted scenes make for an extra 12 minutes of footage, all of which is worth checking out. Billy Tells Art: Play Bradford has Pitt finally confront Hoffman in the middle of a game; Tara and Billy Dinner shows a hint of Pitt’s social life and reminds us why he doesn’t really have one, although it arguably goes over the same ground about the winning streak; and Peter Offered GM Job has a revelation about Jonah Hill getting offered Pitt’s job.
Blooper with Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill is a final bit of extra footage which shows Jonah Hill help sustain Pitt’s three-minute-long uncontrollable fit of laughter. It’s quite warm and amusing to see big stars let go like this.
The disc is rounded off by a number of Preview Trailers.
It may be going against the majority, but I wouldn’t personally put Moneyball anywhere near the 2011 Best Picture category. It is undoubtedly a strong, engaging movie that is definitely worth seeing – and the performances within certainly play the biggest part in this – but the bittersweet ramifications of the unfolding, history-changing, plot are not lost on me and this feels very much like a case of winning the battle, but losing the war. For avid fans of baseball, I suspect it’s difficult to overcome the sheer scale of the tide-change in question, literally rewriting Century-old rules in a game which has been worshipped inside-out for almost as long. For them, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing this perfect game further perfected. But for those who see the bigger picture, this film is arguably the last nail in the coffin of this stunning but short-lived revolution.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get excellent video and audio and a worthy selection of quality extras to round out the disc. Fans of the film will have no qualms about adding this to their collection; those interested in baseball will find this totally gripping and very revealing; and those who are fans of a quality drama should definitely check it out.
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