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THE EXPRESS ($40) is an entertaining Hollywood biography of Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. Set during the period that covers the 1940ís through the 1960ís, racism is a decided component of the story, but it doesnít overwhelm the film or change its focus away from being a football movie. THE EXPRESS first introduces Davis as a young boy, who overcomes stuttering and begins playing football in a Small Fry Football League. Quickly skipping ahead, a grown Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) is a high school senior, whose football prowess finds him being recruited by numerous universities. Syracuse University football head coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid) is looking for a replacement for graduating running back Jim Brown (Darrin Dewitt Henson) and uses the star athlete to assist with recruiting Ernie. The main body of the film follows Ernieís years at Syracuse, which culminates with the 1960 Cotton Bowl game and their taking of the 1959 National Championship. The cast of THE EXPRESS also features Omar Benson Miller, Nelsan Ellis, Charles S. Dutton, Justin Martin, Justin Jones, Nicole Beharie, Aunjanue Ellis, Elizabeth Shivers, Clancy Brown, Danny McCarthy, Regina Hoyles, Chelcie Ross and Saul Rubinek.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE EXPRESS 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. The 1080p presentation is really terrific. Everything appears very sharp and highly defined. There is a wonderful level of fine image detail, which brings out the textures on objects, individual hairs and even the irregularities in the actorsí faces. Additionally, the picture appears pretty dimensional; depending upon how any sequence was shot. Colors are fairly warm and vibrant, while the flesh tones tend to be totally appealing. Blacks are inky, whites are crisp and contrast is smooth. Shadow detail is quite good. The elements from which THE EXPRESS has been mastered demonstrate virtually no flaws. Grain appears at varying levels for artistic effect, sometimes it is quite mild, other times it appears rather heavy.

THE EXPRESS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. As a biopic, much of THE EXPRESS comes across as talky drama, with the sound being localized front and center. However, the football game sequences are much livelier and put all of the outlying channels to work. The sound design also creates convincing acoustic spaces, whether they be small and intimate or the size of a football stadium. Fidelity very high marks for both the warm sounding music and convincing effects. The bottom end of the track is weighty, but the nature of the material, prevents anything ground shaking. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. A Spanish DTS 5.1 channel track has also been encoded onto the disc, as have 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 is a running Audio Commentary with director Gary Fleder. Featurettes include: 50th Anniversary Of The 1959 Syracuse National Championship (sixteen minutes), Making Of The Express (fourteen minutes), Making History: The Story Of Ernie Davis (thirteen minutes), Inside The Playbook: Shooting The Football Games (seven minutes) and From Hollywood To Syracuse: The Legacy Of Ernie Davis (five minutes). Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary from director Gary Fleder close out the supplements.

THE EXPRESS is an entertaining Hollywood biography of a sports legend. The Blu-ray presentation is pretty terrific. Recommended to sports enthusiasts.


The Express [Blu-ray] (2008)


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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