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Based upon the book by H. G. Bissinger, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS ($30) is one of the most inspirational films ever made about the game of football. Surprisingly enough, the film isnít about pro-football or even college football- instead, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is about a high school football. Set during the 1988 season, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS tells the story of the Permian Panthers from Odessa Texas, a town that eats, sleeps and lives football. The game is so much part of the lives of the residents, that they even worship at the church of football every Friday night, during which, they get to watch their hometown favorites vie for the state championship. FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS stars Billy Bob Thornton as Coach Gary Gaines, a man who is constantly on the hot seat- one minute the hero, the next minute the goatÖ whose every decision is second guessed and scrutinized by the entire town of obsessed fans. During the course of the season, the team sees its share of triumph and tragedy, as an injury changes the dynamic of the team, and lesser players are expected to step up into star positions and be perfect. The cast of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS also features Lucas Black, Garrett Hedlund, Derek Luke, Jay Hernandez, Lee Jackson, Lee Thompson Young and Tim McGraw.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Even if this isnít the most phenomenal Blu-ray on the market, the 1080p presentation definitely scores a touchdown. Image clarity, sharpness, dimensionality and detail are all top performers. There is an impressive amount of fine detail in close-ups; individual hairs and flaws in the actorsí skin are clearly evident. Colors are generally somewhat subdued, as if the Texas sunshine has baked out of the image. However, there are places where the colors become more vivid and even pop in a few places. Blacks are inky, while the whites are completely stable. Contrast is generally smooth and accurate, even in bright sunlit conditions. Shadow detail is generally excellent. The elements from which FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS have been transferred appear relatively free from blemishes. There is a fine layer of grain that is present throughout the course of the film, which helps maintain the organic quality of the presentation.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design serves two masters and is highly effective with each. Much of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is talky drama, with subdued sound, but during the football game sequences, the track springs to action and makes excellent use of all the outlying channels for sound effects placement. Crowd sounds and the impact and crunches of players hitting players come across with excellent clarity. Fidelity is very strong thanks to the lossless encode, plus the track has a weighty bottom end. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced and is always easy to understand. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish 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 Peter Berg and author Buzz Bissinger. The most significant supplemental program is Friday Night Lights: The Story Of The 1988 Permian Panthers, which features recent interviews with the actual players who are depicted in the movie. Other Featurettes include: Behind The Lights (twenty-six minutes), Gridiron Grads (fourteen minutes), Tim McGraw: Off The Stage (four minutes) and Player Cam. Deleted Scenes close out the main body of supplements.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is a terrific and inspirational football flick. Universalís Blu-ray presentation is definitely a winner. Recommended.



Friday Night Lights [Blu-ray] (2004)


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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