Thursday, October 16, 2014

Draft Day Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Leading up to the 2014 NFL Kickoff, Lionsgate will release the thrilling sports drama, Draft Daystarring sports movie icon and Academy Award winner Kevin Costner (Best Picture and Best Director, Dances with Wolves, 1990; Bull Durham, Field of Dreams), written by Rajiv Joseph & Scott Rothman, and directed by legendary director Ivan Reitmanthe film was made in exclusive partnership with the NFL, allowing unprecedented access to the actual 2013 NFL Draft, an event drawing higher ratings than the playoffs for baseball, basketball and hockey. Featuring an all-star cast including Jennifer Garner (Dallas Buyers Club), Denis Leary (The Amazing Spiderman), Frank Langella (Superman Returns), Sam Elliott (The Big Lebowski), Sean Combs (Monster’s Ball), Terry Crews (The Expendables franchise), Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (feature film debut), Tom Welling (TV’s “Smallville”), with Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn (Best Actress, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, 1974) and Chadwick Boseman (42), Draft Day goes behind-the-scenes of the high-stakes, action-packed world of the NFL Draft. 
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
As the title suggests, it’s Draft Day and Heisman winning quarterback Bo Callahan (Josh Pence) is the odds on favorite. Cleveland Brown’s GM Sonny Weaver, Jr. (Kevin Costner) has a long, rough day ahead of him. His girlfriend Ali (Jennifer Garner) is pregnant, and he hasn’t dealt with the news well. Ali happens to be the person who manages the team’s salary cap and she is therefore a very big part of Draft Day. 

Their relationship is not public at work, and Weaver wants to focus on the draft. Weaver famously fired his father as the coach of the Browns and is now working with Coach Vince Penn (Dennis Leary). Coach Penn is hard to work with but wears a Superbowl ring which gives him extra clout. As if it wasn’t a rough enough day, Weaver’s father recently passed away and his mother and ex-wife show up wanting to spread ashes on the practice field.

As the day progresses, Weaver and the other GM’s wheel and deal trading players and draft picks for this year and years to come. It’s clear that the positive or negative outcome of the draft reflects directly on the GM and many of them are trying to save their jobs. Browns Team Owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella) isn’t making things easier on Weaver directing him to make a splash at the draft. 

That description doesn’t sound that interesting to me but the writers managed to hold my interest throughout. I don’t mind that they’ve manufactured every other kind of drama possible to add to Weaver’s draft day problems. I don’t even mind that I was able to guess the end result. I still enjoyed the ride and waited patiently to find out if it was going where I thought it was. I’ve never thought about football beyond the Superbowl half time show, but I do have a new appreciation of how the teams come together. 

Kevin Costner’s bucket list likely says “make a movie about every sport”. I know he’s done baseball and golf, now it’s time for football. I know a little about baseball, a lot about basketball and almost nothing about football. Luckily, Draft Day doesn't fly over the head of the non-football fan. Costner has aged pretty well and I’m even willing to believe that he could land a girlfriend that looks like Jennifer Garner. This film is definitely about Weaver’s draft day so it’s okay that he’s the one character you get to know really well. Costner is believable in his role and still has the charm to pull it off. No, I won’t be watching ESPN on the next draft day but I will gladly offer up a piece of Blu-ray shelf real estate to this film.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Draft Day is presented on Blu-ray with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in a 2.40:1 ratio. We see many NFL cities and stadiums and wherever you go, the team colors are accurate. The overall color palette overall is consistent and rich and the film provides a nice level of detail. A drama like this doesn't tax your system, but it more than accomplishes its goals.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
Draft Day's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is brings to life the chaos of draft day with an immersive and intelligible track. This film is about draft day, not game day so you don’t get the chance to hear the crowds roar. For a dialogue driven drama, I had no major complaints.

Extras (2 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The Blu-ray contains a short but entertaining list of features including the following:
  • On the Clock: The Making of Draft DayTwo featurettes lasting over an hour in length cleverly titled pre and post season. Both contain interesting interviews and a look behind the scenes.
  • Welcome to Primetime – A brief (ten minute) bit of background information on the NFL draft.
  • Audio Commentary - Writers Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman provide audio commentary that shows they work well together but could have used the Director’s input.
  • Deleted Scenes – Over 8 minutes of deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Draft Day exceeded my expectations considering it managed to keep a non-football fan interested. It’s clearly a very dramatic bad day and it’s no surprise how it ends. I don’t always need a surprise. The Blu-ray looks and sounds good and offers features that are worth the time. It’s not the type of film I’d expect to win awards but it is the type I’d watch again. I recommend giving this one a chance if you liked anything else Kevin Costner has ever been in.

Order your copy today!

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