Rookie (The) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Disney
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (11th April 2008).
The Film

The plot of this movie is pretty easily guessed. Jim Morris loves baseball with all his heart. Because of his dad being in the military, his family moves every year or so, and Jim plays ball for various teams until he moves to a town where there is no baseball. When things get tough, you know what's going to happen and you know how this movie is going to end. However, the road there is very enjoyable and satisfying.

This being a Disney movie, the father is a mopey, hard-assed fellow, luckily played by mopey, hard-assed actor Brian Cox, though a few looks here and there show his fatherly side. Soon, little Jimmy Morris becomes Dennis Quaid, teacher, and still-baseball dreamer. Mr. Quaid gives a great performance. He carries the movie very well and his charm shows through. He, along with John Lee Hancock's simple but effective direction, really brings you into the movie, making your heart beat faster and making you cheer when the pitches go the way you want them to.

The movie is basically in two parts, one following the high school baseball team, the other following Jim Morris. A few good things about the movie is that, one, it hints at Jim Morris’ past. He has a scar on his shoulder, and there's talk of his injuries. This hints that he did play baseball in the past, though not in the majors. Many other movies would have shortchanged the high school team, but director John Lee Hancock decided to give the young actors in the team the chance to act, and not have too much exposition about Jim's past or show flashbacks. (Now, given the by-the-numbers journey of the high school's team, whether this is good or not is up to you.)

The baseball sequences are also very well done. They have nice energy and zip. They look fairly realistic, but, then again, this is still a movie. The cinematography by John Schwartzman is great, with some very nice moments, especially those of Jim Morris in silhouette.

When the teacher makes a bet with is students, you know what baseball team will come out on top and you know how Jim Morris's destiny is to unfold. Destiny, however inevitable, is not necessarily boring to watch.

Video

2.35:1 widescreen, using the AVC/MPEG-4 codec. Disney scores again, with a very strong transfer. Detail is very strong and you can see every upturn of Dennis Quaid's smile. Hairs and wrinkles are sharp and defined. Colours are very accurate and they never flicker. Contrast and black levels are very nice, as well. The compression is very strong, never showing any flaws. There's a very fine sheen of grain, making this a very natural-looking movie. The picture is strong throughout the movie.

Audio

The movie comes with an English PCM 5.1 (6.9 mbps), and a few Dolby Digital tracks (English and French in 5.1, and Spanish, Portuguese and Thai in 2.0 stereo). I heard the PCM track and I was happy. For the most part, this movie is on a smaller scale. There are no big sonic occurrences, and the track follows suit. There are some nice zips across the front when Jim pitches the ball. There are a few little sounds here and there through the movie, but the track really opens up at the big ball game at the end, with the crowd in full force. The dialogue is very clear and audible, clearly in the centre channel.
English (HoH), French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese (Traditional), Bahasa, Malay and Korean subtitles are provided.

Extras

The biggest extra is probbly the audio commentary by director John Lee Hancock and actor Dennis Quaid. These guys like their movie, and they're very proud of it, which shows through. They talk about the actors, the locations, Texas and how they wanted to bring the Texas feeling to the screen. The real Jim Morris a bit. Some little details, like the Jiffy Lube cap and some looks in some scenes are mentioned, as well. Mr. Hancock also has a very nice story at the very end over the credits. This is an informative track and is as enjoyable as the movie itself. If you enjoy the movie, this is a nice way to finish off the experience.

A few Deleted Scenes are next. There are seven scenes and a director's introduction. Every scene is also introduced by the director. The introduction (0:31) is nice, with the directing telling you about deleted scenes in general. The other scenes are: 'Here We Go Again!' (2:04), 'The Softball Game' (1:46), 'Dropping Joaquin Off at Home' (2:04), 'The Coach's Turn' (2:11), 'At the Burger Joint' (2:12), 'Smooth & Graceful' (4:09) and 'How Do You Explain It?' (3:16). The scenes are nice, but were cut because of redundancy. One or two scenes were cut for pacing, but none of them really add too much to the movie.

Spring Training (8:19) is a featurette talking about Pitching, Catching, Infielding, Outfielding and Hitting, including a Bonus Tip. A baseball coach tells you how to position yourself for the best results in each spot. It's a good featurette, but I'm sure there could be a lot more elaboration on every aspect of the game.

The last real extras is a featurette aptly called The Inspirational Story of Jim Morris (20:37). It's what you'd expect it to be. The real Jim Morris, along with a few of his friends and the movie's crew, talk about West Texas and his upbringing. They basically go over his life in relation to the movie, with the big events of his life shown with movie scenes. Mr. Morris talks about his first time on the plate, which is pretty nice. It's a good featurette.

Some Sneak Peeks are the last thing. 'Sleeping Beauty' (1:57), 'Wall-E' (1:43), 'Enchanted' (2:38) and 'National Treasure: Book of Secrets' (1:52) are here. These are also start-up trailers, as well as a Blu-ray ad (0:52) and 'Disney on Blu-ray' (1:50).

Overall

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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