Monday, May 17, 2010

Invictus (Blu-ray)

When Invictus was released last Oscar season my reaction was positive, but mixed. Although I thought it was a well-made film, with strong performances all around, I felt the focus of the film wasn't as clear as I would have liked.

Was this a message film about an important moment in history (the 1995 Rugby World Cup) and it's social and political ramifications, which happened to be a sports film? Was it a film about the relationship between two unlikely friends, one a newly elected President (Morgan Freeman) and the other a Rugby captain (Matt Damon)? Or was it a sports film first, which also incorporated the character study and important message?

At times Invictus is all of these. So although I thought it was a very good film, I wouldn't be one to argue for its spot in the "great" category. Re-watching it on Blu-ray (it hits stands tomorrow) I found many nagging issues I had originally still held, but the presentation here was superior than in the theater. This is the perfect way to watch the film.

The Blu-ray comes with a picture-in-picture commentary from varied perspectives including producers, screenwriter Anthony Peckman, author John Carlin, director Clint Eastwood, many of the actual participants the story is based on, and several of the film's stars - many of whom are South African. This is by far the best extra of the entire set and adds more detail and perspective to the events. Those, like me, who would have preferred a documentary to Eastwood's more theatrical take, get the best of both worlds. It also gives you an option of something else to listen to in the film's final half-hour besides a Rugby match.

Also included are behind-the-scenes features on the making of the film, Morgan Freeman meeting Nelson Mendela, and Matt Damon learning how to play Rugby. 22 minutes of the upcoming "The Eastwood Factor" documentary, looking back at Eastwood's career with Richard Shickle walking around on the Warner Bros. back lot, a trailer, and BD-Live extras are included as well.

Invictus is a worthy rent, especially with the commentary, and, for those who enjoyed the film in theaters more than I, it may be worth considering adding to your collection. A final note: For those looking to invest in Blu-ray, but haven't shelled out the cash for a player yet, this edition also comes with a copy of the regular DVD.

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