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Miracle
(Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG (For Language and Some Rough Sports Action)

Running Time: 136 minutes

Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noam Emmerich

Written by: Eric Guggenheim

Directed by: Gavin O'Connor

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Gavin O'Connor, Director Of Photography Daniel Stoloff and Editor John Gilroy, The Making Of Miracle, From Hockey To Hollywood: Actors' Journeys, Miracle ESPN Roundtable With Linda Cohn, The Sound Of Miracle, First Impressions: Herb Brooks with Kurt Russell and The Filmmakers, Outtakes

Specs: 2.40:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English  DTS-HD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selections (20 Scenes)

Released: June 16th, 2009

 

 

"Miracle" looks fantastic, as presented in 2.40:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition. Color saturation is very bold and well saturated, black levels are excellent, detail is pretty jaw-dropping and fleshtones are great. The film has a variety of locations and color schemes, and the transfer puts them across perfectly - look how smooth and white that ice is! The only things holding the image quality down are a speck here and there. But they are not really distracting, and this fabulous transfer will certainly shine on any HDTV.

 

Going along with a great transfer is a great DTS-HD 5.1 mix. There are some decent surrounds during the movie (background talking at the bar, assorted crowds, the gas station scene), but it all really comes together during the hockey portions (which is what you should expect). You'll hear the puck being slapped, the cheering fans, skates clashing, hard falls to the ground, the crisp ice being shaved off the rink, onslaughts of skaters echoes, grunts - you really do feel like you're playing on the team. It packs quite a punch, and it's all very discrete.

The movie does shine in more low key areas though: Mark Isham's score is pretty bombastic through the speakers and is well mixed, and the musical choices sound very nice too (gotta love Aerosmith's "Dream On" at the end credits). Dialogue is very easy to hear and comes through rather clear. The .1 LFE is put to some really good use and works well, while the film's sounds are balanced and don't become lost against one another. A well-executed mix that definitely puts you within the moments. 

Also included are English subtitles, French subtitles, Spanish and English closed captions. Alternative audio tracks include Dolby Digital 5.1 in French and Spanish.

 

First is an Audio Commentary with Director Gavin O'Connor, Director Of Photography Daniel Stoloff and Editor John Gilroy. The two are pretty chatter, especially O'Connor, and you can tell they put a lot of work into the movie and are proud of their total accomplishments. They are passionate - which I appreciate - but for all the "great job with so-and-so" remarks and constant praise for the cast and crew I found the track pretty annoying. Yes, there are some decent production stories but O'Connor is distracting - particuarly in how he narrates what's on screen or what just happened, and how he explains a lot of things that don't even need explanations. But I will give O'Connor credit in taking the story seriously, and talks about (with the others) what he ended up cutting out of the script. And all for all his obvious babble he does bring some worthy insight on to some scenes at times. Stoloff and Gilroy talk but not as much as you'd probably like, but they have some good things to say and offer some technical details. Those hoping to learn more about the actual events and more history won't have luck here. Worth a sit through if you want to know as much about the film as possible, but be prepared to hear a lot of the obvious. Where's Kurt Russell when you need him?

The Making Of Miracle is a little syrupy, but still pretty good. We see clips of the real 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team (including the famous final shot of the Soviet Union game), in addition to a lot of footage from the set and clips from the movie. We learn a bit about the making of the movie: such as casting the team and the film's sound design (plus a set visit from the real 1980 team), but the best is how they executed the hockey scenes: a lot of hard, dedicated work went into those. A comparison clip is shown between the actual "Miracle' game and what's in the film, and they sure look similar. Also interesting is having the real Al Michaels re-recording some of his famous commentary, but that going awry. Interviews with O'Connor, Stoloff, Gilroy, producer Mark Ciardi, producer Gordon Gray, Kurt Russell, Al Michaels, casting director Randi Hiller, casting director Sarah Halley Finn, sports coordinator Mark Ellis, actor Nathan West, actor Eddie Cahill, actor Eric Peter-Kaiser, Noah Emmerich, technical advoisor Ryan Walter, sound designer Elliot Koretz, co-designer supervising sound editor Rob Nokes, re-recording mixer Michael Minker, composer Mark Isham and some of the real team are featured. Phew!

From Hockey To Hollywood: Actors' Journeys focuses on casting the actual team rather in-depth. O'Connor, and his casting directors Randi Hiller and Sarah Halley Finn had the gargantuan task of creating the team for celluloid. O'Connor wanted real hockey players, and of course not everybody's an actor, so them being convincing on screen had to come later. We hear from some of the team actors, see audition footage from them and what made them good fits. Lasting a little over twenty-seven minutes, this is pretty nicely done in its approach and some of the more non-technical challenges the filmmakers faced.

Miracle ESPN Roundtable With Linda Cohn, which was shown on ESPN Classic, is pretty well done and gives a nice overview about the actual 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and the film itself. Linda Cohn moderates, as Kurt Russell joins her along with real players Mike Eruzione (captain), Jim Craig (goalie) and Buzz Schneider (left wing). There's a heavy focus on the real Herb Brooks, and it's interesting to hear the team's comments about their coach as well as how Russell approached the role. There's also a wide range of topics talked about in good measure: there is talk about the rest of the team, the excitement and impact of the "Miracle On Ice" and of course, since it was meant to tie-in with the movie, thoughts and elements of the actual film. This is a very well-rounded discussion, and thankfully it is, because it's the only extra on the set to feature some of the real guys and talk about the actual reality in detail (I wish there were more of these type of features on the set, or at least more of the guys - but that could have gotten crowded). Their comments are articulate and come across with passion - there's a real fondness and respect for not only Herb Brooks, but the team, the events and the sport of hockey as well. This runs forty-one minutes or so.

The Sound Of Miracle is about the film's complex sound design. We're given an overview of how the sound effects playing an integral part, and how they're actually recorded and put into the movie. Given all the hockey action, there was a lot to do with the sound design. An interesting method is that they put little microphones on the skates themselves. We see examples of all different kinds of skating sounds and production sounds, and then how they come together. There's also a bit on Mark Isham and his score too. Director Gavin O'Connor and editor John Gilroy are interviewed, but the sound guys - sound designer Elliot Koretz, co-designer supervising sound editor Rob Nokes, re-recording mixer Myron Nettinga and re-recording mixer Michael Minker really tell this story. Very technical in nature which may not appeal to everybody, but still worth watching. This runs about ten-and-a-half minutes.

First Impressions: Herb Brooks with Kurt Russell and The Filmmakers (lasting a little over twenty-one minutes) is a chapter-encoded featurette on the real Herb Brooks. Featuring a nice introduction by O'Connor, O'Connor describes all this as "raw" footage. O'Connor, Russell and others met with Brooks before pre-production began to get a feel for him, and probably to incorporate what he says into the film somehow for authenticity, and to make sure they're on the right track. Brooks is asked questions, but talks openly about his own cut from the United States hockey team in 1960, his coaching style, the Soviet team, picking the team, working with players, what the gold medal meant to him and a bit more. The video and sound quality aren't that good, but it's still great to hear the real man talk about all his experiences. If you're intrigued by the idea in what the real Brooks has to say about it all, then this is a definite view. And wrapping this disc up are five minutes worth of Outtakes which are good for a chuckle or too

 

"Miracle" is a fine movie with an exceptional performance by Kurt Russell, and like the film itself, the Blu-ray is solid ice. The transfer is exceptional, the DTS-HD 5.1 track is booming and there are some great extras spread across this two-disc set. If you loved the movie then it's a definite buy, while the rest of you should find it to be a more-than-satisfying rental.