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December 11, 2007
Gridiron Gang - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
15/9/200619/12/2007Sony PicturesPhil Joanou
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
MPEG-2Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps
PCM 5.1 4.6Mbps
MDwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

THE MOVIE
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C'mon! Where are the snags for the BBQ?
It's unfortunate that the title of this movie alone - Gridiron Gang - will immediately rule this movie out for a large number of people in Australia. Surely a movie about Gridiron isn't worth watching if you don't understand the sport? Well, the fact of the matter is that the sport only makes up a very small part of the overall experience in Gridiron Gang. This is a movie about changing lives. Breaking down barriers. Redefining what it is to be a man. As expected though the box office was almost entirely centered on the United States. Indeed 92.7% (or $US38.4 million) of the gross was taken in America while many other countries, such as Australia, didn't even see the movie hit cinemas at all. Still we like The Rock, and we understand Gridiron so it was with much enthusiasm that we received this Blu-Ray disc from Sony Pictures for review.

Sean Porter (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) is a frustrated juvenile probation officer. Most of the kids in his detention camp are either sent back to prison once they leave or meet a violent end when they return to the streets. Desperately looking for a way to make a difference, he and his co-worker Malcolm Moore (Xzibit) devise a plan to teach discipline and responsibility through the game of football. But with only four weeks before the start of the season, Porter must overcome insurmountable odds to put together a competitive team. It's a season that will test their minds, spirit, and bodies as Porter teaches his players the principles of good character, strength through resiliency, and genuine respect for one another.

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Remember, this will launch our careers!
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was seen as a bit of a joke when he started his acting career and his first gig in The Scorpion King didn't win him too many more fans. "The new Arnie, but not as good" many people proclaimed - myself included. As many of you are aware I'm a massive Arnie fan - actually I'm a bit of a fanatic, and no one will ever replace him for me. Still, with the close links and friendship between the two I have kept an eye on The Rock's career and Gridiron Gang is far and away his best movie. Dare I say it I am very much warming to many of his movies. The boy can act, the boy can show emotion (well, some) and most importantly he has enough charisma and charm to carry a movie from start to end. It probably doesn't hurt that the storyline in Gridiron Gang is solid - no doubt due to the story being based on real events - and the supporting cast does a fine job in their roles.

Even if you don't known anything about Gridiron, or indeed even if you don't like it, this is still a movie we highly recommend. The movie focuses more on the characters rather then the sport and while the outcome may be somewhat predictable, it's the journey getting there that is the real joy.

VIDEO
As one would expect the video quality on this recent release is nigh on perfect with no film artifacts to be found. Encoded in MPEG-2 this is yet another example of the (apparently aging codec) still showing plenty of quality. With much of the movie taking place outdoors the colours are vibrant and the detail quite rich. There is a little film grain here and there, but it is minimal.

AUDIO
Sony Pictures don't disappoint in the audio either with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps and also a Uncompressed Linear PCM track encoded at 4.6Mbps. The sound in Gridiron gang is extremely impressive with some great music, clear dialogue and importantly some great effects when on the sporting field. The crunches - particularly when one of the players is trying to knock over The Rock's character - are impressive with solid bass.

EXTRAS
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Someone wants to be seduced!
Gridiron Gang comes with quite a few extras, and while the overall depth isn't there as we would expect, the commentary is certainly pretty decent. One of the most disappointing things about this release is that the filmmakers didn't see fit, or weren't able to secure the rights, to the real documentary upon which this movie is based. There are some clips from the documentary playing during the end credits - it is quite something to see the real people on film - however it really did leave me wanting more.

Commentary with Writer and Director:

    A brief documentary showing the actors learning how to play Gridiron, and each of the 60 plays used in the movie. Some nice behind the scenes footage, but all too brief.

Deleted Scenes (23:20/HD):

    An impressive list of 15 deleted scenes all presented in HD (MPEG-2 with a bitrate often well over 20Mbps) and with optional audio commentary. Some of the scenes are obviously cuts for pacing, but each of the scenes adds something to the storyline and viewing them does add a little more detail.

Gridiron Gang: Football Training (6:20):

    A brief documentary showing the actors learning how to play Gridiron, and each of the 60 plays used in the movie. Some nice behind the scenes footage, but all too brief.

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Lovebirds, on and off screen - for a while.
Phil Jounau Profile (4:08):

    Another brief feature which focuses on the director, and his motivations in making the movie. Too brief to be of any real merit.

The Rock Takes the Field (4:10):

    This time we have a look at The Rock out on the field. He used to be a NRL player

Multi-angle Scene (3:40/HD):

    Basically a series of plays on the field shown from five different angles, or all together on a single screen as a composite image. Not the most exciting feature you will see all year.

Trailers (HD):

    Trailers for several movies including Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Click, Little Man, Into the Blue and the generic Coming to Blu-Ray trailer. Each is presented in HD and with Dolby Digital 5.1 640kbps audio.

OVERALL
While this isn't the greatest sports movie ever made, it is certainly one of the better ones in recent times. The acting is very solid throughout while the transfer on this disc is certainly another fine effort from Sony Pictures. Throw in some decent extras and what you have here is a Blu-Ray disc worth checking out. Expect a release on December 19, 2007.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
8/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
8/10
THE EXTRAS
5/10
OVERALL
7.5/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.