Plot: What’s it about?
Just in time for The U.S. Open comes “The Greatest Game Ever Played”??. Movies about golf are, pun intended, hit or miss. Golf is a sport that has broken the mold that “The Greatest Game Ever Played”?? has in spades. A game for gentlemen and that’s that. Well, any true fan of the game knows that Francis Ouimet pulled off possibly the greatest upset of any sport when he played against Harry Vardon in the 1913 US Open. The movie has been compared to “Seabiscuit”?? in which you can’t help but root for the underdog, and Shia LaBeouf’s performance embodies the young Ouimet in a very likeable way. The casual viewer or fan might not realize the impact that his event had on golf history, but odds are that every member of the PGA Tour bought their ticket and realizes the significance of a caddy winning the US Open.
The movie opens as they show us a young Harry Vardon, later in his career known as “The Stylist”??. He’s ultimately respected, but never really accepted into the class system of British golf. We then flash forward and meet a young Francis Ouimet. His immigrant father doesn’t approve of his love for the game of golf, but his mother encourages him. Years later, he’s a caddy and on his way to glory, but he misses the cut and as a promise to his father “?? gives up the game. Years pass and Francis is working retail at a sporting goods store in Boston only to be recruited to play the US Open. He frets, thinks and decides to go against the wishes of his father and plays. The rest of the movie is devoted to his play and his interest in Sarah (Peyton List), a woman he can most likely never have.
Director Bill Paxton (yes, that one) has another credit behind the camera, 2001’s “Fraility”?? which is the polar opposite of this feel-good movie. Paxton experiments with some different views of the golf ball (we get ball’s point of view after it’s hit) which is different than watching it on television, for obvious reasons. I will say that “The Greatest Game Ever Played”?? isn’t the greatest movie ever made, it’s a bit over sentimental at times, but unlike a lot of other sports movies it does focus more on the actual game, rather than get sidetracked with other stories. The real show stealer in the film is young Josh Flitter, who plays Francis’ caddy, Eddie. He’s 10 years old but seems to have the wisdom of someone three times his age. Their banter is good and makes the movie more enjoyable. As I mentioned before, casual movie fans might not see any interest in this movie but if you’re a fan (and player) of the links (which, obviously I am) then “The Greatest Game Ever Played”?? knocks it close to the hole. Recommended.
Video: How does it look?
The Dolby Digital. 5.1 soundtrack found on the standard DVD has been replaced by a DTS-HD Master Audio track. It is ample and robust at times and very subdued at others. There isn?t a great many places that the soundtrack has a time to shine, at times during the movie the score takes over and the crowd scenes at the ending match offer some ambiance as well. Dialogue is warm and natural. It?s a good track that makes use of every speaker, though the majority of the action is located in the front stage. While the upgrade to an uncompressed track is a welcome addition, I’m afraid it doesn’t offer much more in terms of depth.
Audio: How does it sound?
Disney has presented ?The Greatest Game Ever Played? in a 1.85:1 AVC HD trasnfer that looks great. Parts of the movie are very muted and washed out, but for the most part the transfer reflects the best of what Blu-ray has to offer. Fleshtones are warm and natural, details are clear and vivid and I noticed no artifacting or edge enhancement. The lush green of the golf course has never looked so good. This is a great-looking transfer.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As expected, the exact same supplements from the standard DVD are present here and there’s two reasons why this movie is being released on Blu-ray. First, we’re a few weeks away from the U.S. Open. Or we’re a few weeks away from “Transformers 2” opening in theaters which stars, you guessed it, Shia LaBeouf. At any rate the commentary tracks by director Bill Paxton and the second one with his crew are engaging. There’s plenty of little factoids and history and it’s clear that Paxton is a fan of the game, which is nice as it seems to be reflected in the film. A behind the scenes featurette is included as is a featurette on Ouimet.