Blu-ray: SECRETARIAT (2010)
Read my review of SECRETARIAT.
Disney's transfer of their latest inspirational sports movie isn't an inspiration, but nowhere near a loser either. The 1080p Blu-ray has a running issue with softness and noise. In darker lit scenes, the picture ranges from muddy to fuzzy. These same scenes don't have the same lush color palette as the rest of the disc. But like its namesake, the disc excels where it needs to -- the race scenes are gorgeous. Details are crisp and the colors are luscious. Even the lower grade cameras used for the horse mounted shots look great.
The disc really makes good its potential with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack. The sounds of the horses racing washes over the soundscape and puts the viewer in the race. The LFE track is used so effectively in this instance to create a real sense of the power of these animals. Likewise, ambiance is nicely done in crowd scenes, putting us in the middle of the enthusiastic fans. Directionality is quite immersive. Voices and sound effects come from the speakers as if we are sitting in the camera's seat.
For the special features, director Randall Wallace gives a commentary track that underlines his background as a screenwriter. For a good portion I felt like I was listening to him give the emotional pitch of the story. Throughout he comments on the talent of his crew to recreate real life locations wherever they could find a suitable alternative. Additionally, he describes the liberty the film takes with specific facts in order to tell the broader story. This information is flushed out even further in the disc's most interesting featurette -- "A Director's Inspiration." In the 20-minute mini-doc, Wallace sits down with Secretariat's real owner Penny Chenery and discusses her point of view on the real events that inspired the film and how she felt about the film's portrayal of them. Rarely do you get to hear so candidly from the subject of a biopic.
Another interesting feature is a computer simulation of multiple angles of Secretariat's Preakness run. Experts and firsthand spectators comment on the race. Additionally, the feature contains the original video footage of the race.
The rest of the disc features the standard making of featurettes one would expect. "Heart of a Champion" has the cast and crew discussing the film and their feelings on being part of it. "Choreographing the Races" is a nice look at how the film went about recreating Secretariat's big races. It's a condensed view of what Wallace lays out in the commentary. The deleted scenes give viewers the option of hearing Wallace give his reasons for cutting the scenes. I was surprised to hear which of the cut scenes was his favorite. There is also a music video for AJ Michalka's tune "It's Who You Are."