Monday, January 9, 2012

Moneyball - A sports movie with a difference

Moneyball (Biography, Drama, Sport)
Directed by Bennett Miller
Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Sony Pictures | 2011 | 133 min | Rated PG-13 | Released Jan 10, 2012

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

English, French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

English, English SDH, French, Spanish

50GB Blu-ray Disc
DVD Copy

The Film 4.5/5

Moneyball is a refreshing change from the usual type of sports movie. How many times have you watched the story of an underdog triumphing? How many movies introduce us to a controversial coach who is initially resented because of his methods and then revered by all when he succeeds? This story is certainly a celebration of success, but not in the typical sense.

It’s based on the true story of how General Manager Billy Beane (Pitt) employed a new way of thinking in order to enable the Oakland Athletics to compete with the likes of the New York Yankees. He did this with just one third of the payroll of that available to the Yankees.

Beane’s first move was to hire Peter Brand (Hill) – an economics graduate from Yale. Instead of relying on traditional scouting methods, Brand used statistical analysis to determine the true value of baseball players. Instead of paying huge salaries based on a players’ potential, he sought out value by considering players who were believed to have flaws. These might include injury or advancing age. Beane collaborated with Brand to assemble a team on a low budget. Departing stars were replaced with players who were a good fit for the team.

The reason Moneyball appeals to me so much is that I also rely on my own way of thinking rather than following conventional wisdom. That doesn’t mean I will ignore everything, but I will question the opinions of others and decide whether I agree. It’s something I have done my entire life and one reason I review movies. You might not agree with me, but at least you know that I’m not just repeating the opinions of others.

The dialogue is intelligent and full of humor. Some of the scenes, such as Beane pursuing trades with other teams, are quite exciting. Pitt and Hill work well together and are in most of the scenes. One source of conflict is Coach Art Howe (Hoffman). He’s concerned about his own situation and future in the sport, and is reluctant to adopt Beane’s desired strategy.

I enjoyed Moneyball because it was different and the story was told in an appealing way. I won’t ruin the ending for those who don’t remember whether the A’s won the World Series, but I will say that the story doesn’t show a huge amount of baseball action. This is about the people behind the scenes and the way in which they affected the sport.

The 133 minutes race by and that’s always a good sign. I can imagine myself watching this movie several times.

Video Quality 4/5

Sony’s presentation looks great for the most part. There’s plenty of detail and depth. Colors appear accurate and well-defined. The only minor fault is the presence of noise in many of the scenes. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but it’s hard to dismiss it completely. The movie uses a few TV shots and some archive footage, and that’s clearly of lesser quality than the majority of the presentation. That’s purely intentional and no fault in the transfer.

Audio Quality 4/5

This is a story which relies more on dialogue than anything else. It rises to the occasion when required, such as during baseball games, but it’s fairly subtle overall.

Special Features 3/5

The extras are in full HD and offer just the right amount of content for those wanting more information:

Blooper: Brad Loses It (3:11) – A scene in which Pitt can’t stop laughing at one of the lines delivered by Hill.

Deleted Scenes (12:05) – Three extended scenes which didn’t make the final cut in their entirety.

Billy Beane: Re-Inventing the Game (16:02) – A discussion about Beane’s impact on the game.

Drafting the Team (20:51) – A feature explaining the reasoning behind some of the casting decisions.

Adapting Moneyball (16:33) – Showing how Michael Lewis’s book was adapted for the big screen.

MLB 12 The Show Preview Trailer (1:21)



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