'The Greatest Game Ever Played' [Blu-ray]
(Shia LeBeouf, Stephen Dillane, et al / Blu ray / PG / (2005) 2009 / BVHE)
Overview: Now you can experience Walt Disney Pictures crowd-pleasing underdog epic in the stunning clarity and up-close-and-personal magic of high definition. Shia LaBeouf ('Transformers') stars as amateur golfer Francis Ouimet. Armed with nothing but talent, the working-class youth has a seemingly impossible dream: to compete against the world's greatest player, his idol Harry Vardon.
DVD Verdict: I am not a particular fan of golf, but I became intrigued by this movie (back in '05) from various reviews I had read. I also liked the other movie I saw that Bill Paxton directed ('Frailty'). As it turned out, the movie happened to be on while I was visiting family, and after a few minutes we were all absorbed. And now that it's out on Blu ray, man, what a sight for sore, lovin' eyes it sure is!
What keeps this from being like yet another underdog-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks-takes-on-the-seemingly-unbeatable-champ cliche' film are a couple of important factors: Though there may have been some artistic license and creative freedoms, the story is TRUE. Secondly, there were no villains in this film. Although Harry Vardon was Francis Oimet's opponent, he wasn't really an adversary and certainly wasn't a foe. Vardon was a man of good character who conducted himself honorably and treated Oimet with respect.
Stephan Dillane has a look which would make for an effective villain, but his portrayal of Vardon as a sympathetic character not too much different from Oimet was done with remarkable effectiveness. Though I was cheering for Oimet, I also found a part of myself (again) cheering for Vardon as well. The other supporting characters were also very interesting and engaging, and were played very well by a talented cast. Bill Paxton again does another great job as a director, combining creative cinematography with understated and effective performances from his cast.
Overall, a movie that is entertaining and suitable for all ages. It is a refreshing change to have a film with no villains and many likable characters such as this one - and now in such crystal clear clarity too! [BE] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the following Special Features:
A View From The Gallery: On The Set Of THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED
Two Legends And The Greatest Game
From Caddie To Champion: Francis Ouimet
Audio Commentary With Director Bill Paxton
Audio Commentary With Author, Screenwriter And Producer Mark Frost