Remember The Titans [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (8th October 2007).
The Film

In 1995 I saw a little independent film called "Fresh" this was after its festival run when it was given general release. The film's title is exactly what this film was, considering the many urban gangster films that had populated the mainstream market such as "Boyz N The Hood" (1991) and "Menace II Society" (1993) that brought to light the problems facing young black men and gang life. While these films looked at the problem from the perspective of the young adults involved, "Fresh" looked at it from a different perspective, more from a child's perspective. "Fresh" quickly became one of the festival 'darlings' that Miramax scooped up, note that 1994 was also the year of Kevin Smith's seminal hit "Clerks" and Quentin Tarantino's Oscar winning (Original Screenplay) masterpiece "Pulp Fiction". "Fresh" offered something new and would not be forgotten by this reviewer for quite some time. Filmmaker Boaz Yakin would become someone whose career I was prepared to follow. However Yakin later went onto films that were a stark contrast to his freshman feature, 1998's "A Price Above Rubies" was rarely seen and quickly forgotten, in 2000 he released this film "Remember The Titans" a predictable sports film that lifts the spirits and makes us all proud to be Americans (that is if you are one) and then rounding things off with the unfunny girly comedy "Uptown Girls" (2003), if you told me that the director of "Fresh" would go on to direct "Uptown Girls" I'd tell you to promptly go fuck yourself! But it happened, Yakin could have continued making powerful films that not only had a message but was told from a new unique point of view but instead it seems like he wanted to make fluff for the average Joe. "Remember the Titans" is just such fluff.
Jerry Bruckheimer has made a career out of big films that cuts to the core of every hard working patriotic man, and even throws in something for the ladies too. From action films to war films to inspirational sports films, this man has made 'cheese' a constant element in just about all his films. The 'cheese factor' is piled on heavy on this occasion.
"Remember the Titans" tells the story of Coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) a black man who is hired as head coach of a local high school football team. However nothing is ever clean cut and simple, this is West Virginia of the 1970's were racisms was still very much a reality. The town and the team object to having black players among them, but Coach Boone doesn't only have to fight the town's prejudice's and keep a team together he also has to fight internal pressures from the teams former head Coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) who has taken the job of assistant coach under Boone. Boone trains the team and tries different methods for the players to no only operate as a team but also learn to put their prejudices aside and connect as people. His crazy tactics not only work but the coach leads the team to a perfect season winning the State Championships, earns the respect and admiration of the coaching staff and town but most importantly changes the lives of his players who have developed a bond and friendship with each other that lasts a lifetime.
Not only is this an inspirational true story, but Disney manages to find a way to slap a dollop of icing sugar all over this one. The film's purpose is to jerk some heart strings and provide inspiration to its audience and it deliver's that in spades. Yakin takes the time to build these relationships up and throws challenges towards them at every opportunity but just when you think their number is up these characters make it through stronger and unscathed. The film feels entirely manipulative, forcing you to feel sympathetic for these players and the coach's predicament, totally distracting you from the fact that the story is light and has nowhere else to go other than presenting a winning team. I'll give some credit to the filmmakers in developing these characters throughout the film, but they were an entirely clichéd bunch of people that not only insults this viewer but how could anyone watch this without rolling their eyes? The bad ass racists redneck, the naïve blockhead, the pretty boy heart throb, the fat guy whose a little dumb, the star quarter back, etc, etc, etc...however by far the worst thing about this film was coach Yoast's daughter Sheryl (Hayden Panettiere, in one of her early film roles before her recent run on the series "Heroes" (2006-Present)), this opinionated loudmouth kid was supposed to be feisty to the point of being adorable but instead was annoying and unnecessary. How could anyone think that this character was a good idea? I realize that this is a true story and that these characters are based on real people, however the key word here is 'based' let's not forget that this is a Hollywood film and creative license is taken.
Ok, so it's a little soft in the middle, however this is a sports film and I did enjoy that aspect of the film. The football scenes are energetic and involving, Yakin puts his camera right into the action you can almost smell the sweat, I've seen far better football sequences in my time, "Any Given Sunday" (1999) is one such example, "Remember the Titans" doesn't quiet reach the greatness of the sequences in Oliver Stone's film however does a fine job in any case.
I spoke of the 'cheese factor' earlier, this film certainly has those moments, one in particular sticks out like a sore thumb, in a tight game Gerry Bertier (Ryan Hurst) runs up to the opposition side, glares at the coach of that team and angrily points at him letting out a grunt expressing his hatred for that team and his desire to win, or some such bullshit. There are plenty more 'cheese' moments in this film, especially near the end when Bertier is hospitalized for begin in a car accident, the many connect-with-one-another moments at the football camp and also the uplifting speeches the coach delivers every now and then.
"Remember the Titans" will not likely not be one of those films about racial intolerance that is remembered (Ironic) and talked for years to come such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) or even as remembered as a truly great sports film such as "Rocky" (1976), "Chariots of Fire" (1981) or "Hoosiers" (1986). Although an inspirational story none-the-less the filmmakers poured too much sugar over this one to leave a significant impact on the viewer which makes for good lighthearted entertainment and unfortunately nothing else.

Video

The film is presented in it's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1, this high-definition transfer is in 1080p 24/fps and has been created using AVC MPEG-4 compression. The DVD image presents the film quite well, and this HD transfer is even better. The image is sharp and clean and this remains consistent throughout, I also found that the colors are well balanced and vibrant, especially skin tones which appear natural. The black levels are appropriately deep and bold and shadow detail is excellent. An advantage to these 1080p transfers is the incredible detail they display and this transfer is no exception, aside from some grain the image is striking considering the film is given a 50GB disc to show off its wares.

Audio

Four audio tracks are included in English uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround transferred at 48kHz / 24-Bit / 6.9mbps as well as a standard English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, French Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with the PCM track. The audio is equally impressive, and a much bigger improvement over the standard Dolby Digital track, the dialogue is clean and distortion free but the surround comes into play with much more depth especially in regards to the score and the football game and training sequences which tend to be a bit more aggressive.

Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has included all the extras from the previous DVD releases and includes two audio commentaries, a series of deleted scenes, three featurettes plus a collection of bonus trailers. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary by the film's director Boaz Yakin, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard. The track isn't entirely screen-specific but features the director commenting on the story and narrative structure, as well as the visual style, direction of the film, technical issues and also on working with the cast and shooting the grueling football sequences which appear to have taken their toll on the actors. The screenwriter comments on the initial interest in these people's lives and wanting to tell their story, he also comments on about the characters and developing the script which includes the research conducted and being able to condense these real events into a feature film keeping intact the themes and essence of the picture. Bruckheimer pretty much backs up what these two say adding a little bit more to the track but not an incredible contribution as he does occasionally heap praise on the cast, he talks about working with the real life coaches and trying to remain real and authentic about the events among other things including stories and events that occurred but where not included as part of the film.

A second feature-length audio commentary is included by real-life coaches Herman Boone and Bill Yoast. These two comment on their involvement in the project and the initial reluctance to do so, mainly because they where surprised that a film would be made about their coaching careers. They provide come history behind what's seen in the film including providing some background that's not necessarily covered in the film. An interesting aspect of this track include their involvement in the writing process ad providing the screenwriter with the research needed to complete the script as they provided the original template for the final product which is seen onscreen.

6 deleted scenes, two of which are actually included in the "Director's Cut" film. The scenes included are:

- "Friends don't some easy" which runs for 1 minute 25 seconds, Coach Yoast tells Julius (Wood Harris) what he thinks of his outside activities, but likes his moves on the field and recommends him for a spot on the team.
- "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" runs for 1 minutes 36 seconds and is footage of the mixed color team mates sharing dorm rooms as we see they each have nothing in common with each other.
- "It wouldn't kill you" runs for 49 seconds, Boone and his assistant coach share a moment together as Boone tries to smile.
- "She's All Yours" runs for 1 minute, Bill Yoast's ex-wife tells him she's going away for a while and that their daughter will stay with him.
- "Sunday service" runs for 1 minute 18 seconds and in it, Yoast and his daughter attend a black church for Sunday service.
- "Sunshine strikes back" runs for 1 minute 47 seconds, Sunshine convinces a bar owner that it's his best interest to serve his black friends.

Next up we have the featurette entitled "Remember the Titans: An Inspirational Journey Behind the Scenes" which runs for 20 minutes 55 seconds. This is an EPK style clip about the making of the film that covers all the bases in brief, we learn about the true story, the selling of the script, casting the parts, as well as gives us a look at some of the filming as well as meet the real life Boone and Yoast.

Next we have "Denzel Becomes Boone" featurette which runs for 6 minutes 12 seconds. In this clip we look at Denzel's transformation into playing the real life hero behind the film, Denzel also talks about meeting the real man and what interested him in playing this role.

The final featurette is entitled "Beating the Odds" which runs for 6 minutes 17 seconds. This clips covers the discovery of the story and the script's genesis as well as trying to find a studio to make this film. The script was given the thumbs down by every major studio until Bruckheimer picked it up.

Rounding out the extras are a collection of bonus trailers, these are all start-up previews and play before the menu, however they can all be skipped by pressing the 'menu' button on your remote, the trailers included are for:

- "Buena Vista Blu-ray" promo spot which runs for 1 minute 20 seconds.
- "The Game Plan" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.
- "The Invisible" which runs for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
- "Ratatouille" which runs for 2 minutes 28 seconds.
- "Wild Hogs" which runs for 2 minutes 32 seconds.

Finally this first disc also includes a "Movie Showcase" which jumps to three key reference scenes that show off the high-definition quality.

Overall

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

 


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