A League of their Own Review
It's the hard what makes it good
Of all the films in this set, A League of their Own was the only one I had not seen before. There is something immediately charming about the picture helped by the fact that is defies genre. Clearly it’s a sports film, or rather it has a large element of baseball for its run time, but it is not really about baseball or an underdog team coming from behind to win. Although the formation of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League is a large part of the story so is the revelry between the two sisters Dottie and Kit, as is the reformation of the washed up player Jimmy Dugan, or the fact that Dottie, as good as she is, really wants to go home to spend time with her family, or Marla coming out of her herself to get married: the list goes on. It is inspired by true events, but almost everything is fictitious, including the characters.
But it is earnestly made, with a cast determined to give their very best, not only emotionally, but on the field. And because there are so many elements bringing the film together, there is something for everyone to get out of it; I especially liked the nod to racial inequality regarding the teams. And I liked the restraint given to the screenplay; not going the obvious route of a love triangle between Dolly, Jimmy and Bob, and the ambiguity of whether or not Dottie dropped the ball intentionally is a delicious twist. Then to book end the film with aged players (mainly real) reminiscing about and gaining the recognition they richly deserved give a warm feeling of satisfaction that lasts long after the final whistle has blown. Lovely.
A League of their Own 4K Video
A League of their Own was shot using Panavision Cameras on 35mm film, with this release gaining brand new restoration from scanning the original camera negative with additional clean up and colour correction to form a 4K DI. The disc presents an native 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of A League of their Own on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DP-UB450 Dolby Vision HDR10+ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The new scan is a revelation; detail is off the charts, from skin texture, to clothing weaves, to wood grain, to pitch grass, to dusty tracks, to grime on changing room walls, to wide open vista shots – everything is keen and tight. Check out the crowds in the stadiums, or check out the empty seats, even, there is a defiant clarity; as there is with the score boards. Simply no softness to be seen.
Add to this the wonderful enhancement of WCG and HDR which really, really, brings the picture alive. Colours are stunning, the rich warmth of the pitch grass, the deep blue of the sky, the pink of the uniforms, the reds of the candles in the church - everything is simply gorgeous. Perfect comes to mind.
Black level is deep and intense, pushing the frame depth, while the white scale really adds 3D pop, the highlights are amazing; glints of sunlight off metal, the creases in white clothing, clouds, paint – amazing.
Digitally there are no issues, the original source is spotless and the whole has a lovely clean grain film that brings out the organic nature of the medium. Stunning.
A League of their Own 4K Audio
The Dolby Atmos track is expansive and engaging; the best moments of immersion come from the games themselves, with the crack of the bat, the roaring crowd and especially the pitch commentators. Any time the players are on the field there is a real natural sense of space. Dialogue is clean and clear and given plenty of directionality when needed. Music is an important part of the film, be it score or diegetic, such as the swing bar; with the separation of the music, the layered dialogue and the movements of the dancers.
Bass is natural and tight, LF effects are somewhat limited, by the very nature of the film, though trains' movements, bat cracks and the odd rumble of thunder do get in on the act. As mentioned the score is well layered with the montage pieces coming off particularly well. What really stands out is how real everything sounds, as if you are outside on the pitcher’s mound; terrific stuff.
A League of their Own 4K Extras
Blu-ray (Previous available)
Audio Commentary – With director Penny Marshall, actresses Lori Petty, Tracy Reiner and Megan Cavanagh
The Enduring Legacy of A League of Their Own – 12 minute retrospective.
Nine Memorable Innings – 50 minute, 11 part making of feature.
Music Video - This Used to Be My Playground by Madonna.
1993 TV Series Episodes – New for this release, the 1st, 5th & 6th episodes; presumably rights issues prevented the whole series being allowed.
DVD – Yes these still exist!
Excerpts from Columbia 50 year Anniversary TV Special - Hosted by Orson Wells, featuring clips and interviews.
Hard Back Book – Full colour containing write ups about the film, essays and restoration notes.
A League of their Own 4K Verdict
A League of their Own 4K Blu-ray Review
A League of their Own is director Penny Marshall’s take on the formation of the All American Girls Professional Baseball League told through the eyes of two rival sisters, but it is so much more and contains far more elements, making its genre indefinable. One thing is for certain, it is charming, engaging and thrilling; you feel enthused by the players and warm to their situations; with small nods to inequality and an enigmatic twist, it remains an eminent classic.
An eminent classic
This A League of their Own 4K UHD is only available as part of the Columbia Classics Box Set. It has been newly scanned, cleaned up and colour corrected and presented in native 4K with Dolby Atmos sound track; the picture is beautiful, clean, detailed and wonderfully coloured, with strong blacks and perfect whites, while the sound is natural, well layered and presenting an immersive surround field. There are a whole host of extras spread over both the UHD and the included Blu-rays. The set as a whole is absolutely stunning and a must have.
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