Gunnin' for That #1 Spot
R2 - United Kingdom - Soda Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (1st June 2013).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

On the corner of 155th and Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Harlem lies Rucker Park. By appearances, the concrete pavement, anchored on one side by its run down slab bleachers, is no different than any other basketball court in the city, but this is the place where nicknames are indelibly branded, and legends are born.

On September 1st, 2006, the top 24 high school basketball players in the USA stepped out on this court, that once saw the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Dr. J to compete in the first annual 'Elite 24' all-star game.

Gunnin' For That #1 Spot follows eight of these players as they prepare to showcase their skills at the most legendary playground in the world. Directed by Adam Yauch (MCA of the Beastie Boys and Director of 'Awesome; I F***ing Shot That!'), the documentary trails these players on the fast track to the NBA, as they are being groomed to be in the spotlight of a multi-million dollar game. Combining Yauch's unique directing style with raw hip hop music, Gunnin' For That #1 Spot highlights these soon to be NBA All Stars.

Video

Soda Pictures release "Gunnin' for That #1 Spot" slightly cropped from the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 at 1.78:1, which has been anamorphically enhanced. The picture is generally solid though does have limitations, mainly due to the lower end equipment used during production rather than the transfer.

The first half of the feature visits the eight players who are documented on their stomping grounds, with two different crews used for the East and West coasts. At times, this does cause these segments to differ slightly in style, but it's consistent enough that most won't notice. Interview footage with the players, their family and their close friends are of good quality with detail strong and colours sharp. Some archive footage is show but the archive footage of high school basketball appears to come from old mobile phones and the quality here does drop significantly, though this is purely because of the source.

The second half follows the players as they play their game at the infamous Ricker Park. Yauch has decided to use various styles here and those familiar with the music videos of The Beastie Boys should know what to expect in a visual sense. Slow motion is sometimes overused, but footage is clear and although this half is often a tad dark, details remain consistently good. There was no artefacting or obvious damage (not including the archival footage) to the print - I imagine this is how it looked during the limited theatrical run.

Audio

As per usual with documentaries, there is just a single Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track presented in the original language of English. Unfortunately, we miss out on the 5.1 track available on the American release from Oscilloscope Laboratories and although this wouldn't normally matter with a dialogue-driven documentary, the fantastic selection of music throughout would've been far superior if it had made full use of the surrounds. Dialogue is clear for the majority, though one or two lines are a little mumbled, and there are certainly no signs of audio dropouts, scratches or background hiss, making this a perfectly adequate, if unspectacular track.

No subtitles have been provided.

Extras

There is only a single extra included here, but thankfully it's a very good one. The commentary track with director Adam Yauch and game announcer Bobbito Garcia is one of those rare commentaries that manages to find an even ground between anecdotes and technical details. Both participants have an obvious love and enthusiasm for basketball, and what the documentary represents, without turning it into some sort of love-in. We hear more about the players featured, along with various other facts about youth basketball stars including the way the likes of Adidas/Nike/Reebok try to get their trainers worn on the feet of these future stars and general making of information. An enjoyable listen.

Overall

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

 


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