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Michael Jordan To The Max

review by Zach B.

Not Rated

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 46 minutes

Starring Michael Jordan
Narrated by Laurence Fishburne

Directed by James D. Stern and Don Kempf

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Commentary With Co-Director/Producer James D. Stern, Co-Director/Producer Don Kempf and Producer Steve Kempf, Michael Jordan Stats, Crew Biographies, Reviews, 21 Minute Behind The Scenes Featurette, 2 Minute Michael Jordan Bullet Time Featurette, Trailers, TV Spot

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround 5.1, English Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, Chapter Search (12 Chapters)

It's not hard to babble about Michael Jordan, there is no doubt he is one of the most influential sports figures of all time. He's a living legend who's simply one of the greatest, if not the greatest, basketball players ever. He has a ton of merchandise. He's made a mint off product placements. He has his own shoes. Simply put, Jordan is and forever will be in the history books.

"Michael Jordan To The Max" is a 46 minute documentary about the great, originally shown in IMAX theaters. I had some desire to see it, but I will admit the lukewarm reviews I read turned me off. I have to say this documentary isn't bad, but it could have been better. Like many of you, I hoped this documentary would have been larger than life, just like Mister Jordan himself. It's not. It's really a small chunk of Jordan, and the film jumps around from topic to topic.

The documentary pretty much follows Jordan and the Bulls through his final season during the playoffs and championships. In between match clips, there are interviews with people who have known Jordan, former coaches, teammates, his mother, others (BOB COSTAS!!!) and of course, Jordan himself. During the interviews we learn about Michael and his past a tiny bit, a sappy segment on the unfortuante death of his father, a good bit on when he played baseball and a tiny bit on parts of his career. And it's all narrated by that mighty voice of Laurence Fishburne, who has such a great and elegant voice. He does a fantastic job.

This documentary is well done, but again, you'll probably expect a lot more. It just takes little things and throws them together. There's a lot of excellent shots though, and good (but nothing new) information, and the editing is done really well. I don't think the filmmakers really knew what they wanted to make or where they were going with this. It's not bad, but I know it could have been a lot better. It could have been a hell lot longer too. Basically, when you're done watching, there's a lot to be desired.

Though presented in IMAX originally, the film, I guess, was filmed in 1.85:1 and then converted and everything. Of course, I could be wrong. Anyhow, this anamorphic widescreen transfer is pretty good. Colors are very bold and fleshtones are dead-on. There's some blemishes and pieces of grain, plus some shimmering. The image can be pretty soft at times, but some scenes are pretty sharp. I also thought exterior shots could have looked a lot better. An interesting thing to note is that during some of Jordan's speaking time, the aspect ratio becomes larger. But it's all basically in 1.85:1. A very good transfer, despite some flaws that get in the way.

A decent Dolby Digital 5.1 track is included, in addition to a 5.1 French track and a Dolby Surround track. I expected more out of this track. I felt there could have been a lot more surround use, and this track could have been louder and a lot more active, especially during the basketball scenes. The music uses the channels, but that could have been better. Still, there are some good surrounds, but I felt this could have been a more aggressive. English subtitles are also included.

I was surprised how packed this disc was. There's a great amount of features. The first is a Commentary With James D. Stern, Don Kempf and Steve Kempf. It's a pretty straight foward track. There's a little bit of silence here and there, but nothing major. Things aren't always so screen specific, and most of the track praises Jordan. Still, they are well prepared, talk about making it in general (and they claim they knew what they were doing with the movie) and seemed to have a good time making it.

Behind The Scenes is a twenty one minture featurette with interviews from the production team and others, as well as some footage of him shooting on a green screen. This production refers a lot to IMAX presentation. It's nothing special, but it's a decent diversion. It's in non-anamorphic widescreen.

Michael Jordan Bullet Time basically shows the opening "Matrix" like shot. There's no narration or anything, and is just live action footage, green screen shots, cgi and storyboards in a one minute and forty five second featurette.

Rounding the disc out are three Trailers (a 30 second IMAX one, a 30 second one for movie theaters and the theatrical trailer) and a 30 second TV Spot. Didn't like my review? Read one of three Reviews. See reviews from the "Calagary Sun", "New York Post" and "Chicago Sun-Times". They don't give you their ratings in stars were (I do recall the NY Post gave it two and a half out of four), but they do praise the movie... and some of the reviews mention the film and its flaws.

While I wish there was more to the movie, but this DVD has a decent presentation and a good array of extras. Sports fans, basektball fans and Jordan fans, be sure to check it out if you enjoyed the movie. If you have not seen it, I'd suggest you rent it first.

(3/5 - NOT included in final score)




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