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CINDERELLA MAN ($30) is another marvelous Hollywood biography that mixes terrific performances with assured direction to tell an uplifting depression era story. Based upon the story of boxer James J. Braddock, actor Russell Crowe does his usual outstanding job of inhabiting the character he is bringing to life on the screen, while director Ron Howard utilizes Crowe’s talents and that of the rest of the cast to wring all of the potential emotional resonance out of the story. CINDERELLA MAN chronicles Braddock’s story from his earlier boxing career, where he showed the potential to be a contender. However, a hand injury forces the fighter to give up boxing. After taking on menial jobs to support his wife and family, Braddock’s big break comes almost as a matter of random chance… another fighter cancels his appearance, which leaves the promoters needing to fill the ticket and gives Braddock a shot at the number two contender in the world. Everyone expects Braddock to take a pounding before being defeated; however, he shocks both the boxing community and the fans with a surprising knockout of his highly regarded opponent. Of course, this gets Braddock’s boxing career back on track, which will lead to his ultimate test… fighting the reigning heavyweight champion of the world. The cast of CINDERELLA MAN also features Renée Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine, Bruce McGill, David Huband, Connor Price, Ariel Waller, Patrick Louis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Linda Kash, Nicholas Campbell, Gene Pyrz and Chuck Shamata.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made CINDERELLA MAN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Representing the artistic intentions of the filmmakers quite well, the 1080p presentation really cannot be faulted for its fidelity to the source material. CINDERELLA MAN comes with mildly stylized cinematography that captures the bygone era by antiquing the visuals by utilizing a bit of diffusion and by adding a golden quality to the color palette. The levels of sharpness and image detail are quite good, but some will think the picture to mildly soft; but as I previously stated, this appears to be the look that the cinematography sought to achieve. Colors can be a tad muted in places, plus there is a golden tinge, which gives the image that vintage quality. Blacks are fairly deep, while the whites appear crisp. Contrast is smooth, while shadow detail is more than adequate. The film elements are quite clean. Some mild grain is present in the image.

CINDERELLA MAN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that much of CINDERELLA MAN is talky drama, the mix is very good, with the fight sequences adding intensity to the sound design. All of the outlying channels engage nicely during said fight sequences, which come across as quite punchy (pardon the pun). At other times, the sound design still proves to be nicely atmospheric. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is pretty terrific, with Thomas Newman's nicely integrated score getting a decided boost. The bass channel adds weight and impact to the sound effects. Voices are warmly recorded, plus the dialogue is always completely understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English and French subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off are three running Audio Commentaries included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is with director Ron Howard; the second includes screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, while the third features co-writer Cliff Hollingsworth. Featurettes and other programs include: Becoming Jim Braddock (twenty-eight minutes), The Fight Card: Casting Cinderella Man (twenty-two minutes), Pre-Fight Preparations (twenty-five minutes), Lights, Camera, Action: The Fight From Every Angle (twenty-two minutes), For The Record: A History Of Boxing (seven minutes), The Man, The Movie, The Legend (fourteen minutes), Jim Braddock: The Friends & Family Behind The Legend (eleven minutes), The Sound Of The Bell (seven minutes), Cinderella Man Music Featurette (two minutes), The Human Face Of The Depression (six minutes), Braddock Vs. Baer Fight Footage (two minutes) and Ringside Seats (nine minutes). More than a half hour’s worth of Deleted & Extended Scenes with optional comments from Ron Howard are also provided. Russell Crowe's Personal Journey: Becoming Jim Braddock and a Photo Montage close out the supplements. CINDERELLA MAN is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

CINDERELLA MAN is a highly entertaining and well-acted Hollywood biography that has been given a very good presentation on Blu-ray. Recommended.



Cinderella Man [Blu-ray] (2005)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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