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Waiting For "Superman"
(Blu-ray)
review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG (For Some Language and Brief Violent Material)

Running Time: 111 Minutes

Starring: Gregory Canada

Written by: Davis Guggenheim & Billy Kimball

Directed by: Davis Guggenheim

 

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $39.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Davis Guggenheim and Producer Lesley Chilcott, Changing the Odds, Updates, A Conversation with Davis Guggenheim, The Future Is In Our Classrooms, The Making of "Shine", Deleted Scenes

Specs: 1.78:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Brazilian Portuguese 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Brazilian Portuguese Subtitles, Scenes (16 scenes), 2-Disc Set

Released: February 15th, 2011

 


"Waiting For 'Superman'" is presented in 1080p high definition, preserving its widescreen theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1. This is a nice-looking documetary, and this transfer is certainly pleasing to the eye. Fleshtones of the participants hit the marks, exterior shots of the children's respective cities feature a lovely amount of detail while color saturation is bold and bright. Even the archival footage used looks pretty good. The only nitpicks are some slight shimmering that occurs, and a tiny touch of noise. In all though, this is a sharp looking doc.

 


"Waiting For 'Superman'" is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Since this is a documentary, there isn't too much to say here except that when someone speaks, it is always clear, crisp and easy to hear. With that in mind, this track is rather front-heavy. There's also the John Legend song "Shine," which sounds pretty enveloping and robust through the channels.

Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese are included. Also included are subtitles in those languages and English.

 


Kicking things off is an Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Davis Guggenheim and Producer Lesley Chilcott. It is a little on the dry side, and there are some gaps of silence, but otherwise this is an informative and low-ley track. The two cover a lot of ground: they discuss their editing process, tip their hat to Erol Morris, give facts about the education system in the United States and also offer some of their own opinions. If you were engrossed by the movie, I certainly encourage you to listen to this insightful track. 

Changing the Odds (5:34) plays out like a PSA, but that's not a bad thing. Basically, some education honchos (and Newark mayor Cory Booker) give a few thoughts, highlight some top-notch schools and innovations that are being used to help teachers and students. Playing even more like a PSA is The Future Is In Our Classrooms, which runs about 2 minutes and offers some sad statistics. Both are worth watching.

Updates is just two slides of text that are an epilogue of sorts, highlighting new developments of people and places featured in the movie (more can be found on the film's official website). A Conversation With Davis Guggenheim (1:44) is an animated short where Guggenheim admits he wasn't the best student in school, but was lucky to have an inspiring teacher who helped him.

The Making of "Shine" is a 7 minute piece that chronicles John Legend's journey to write the film's theme song. Perhaps it is a tiny bit pretentious (just look at those brooding shots by his piano!), but still interesting: Legend returns to Springfield, Ohio (where he grew up) seeking inspiration for the lyrics. He narrates his luck in getting a good education, returns to the record store where he worked, his old school and we meet his family. Plenty of photos from his past imbue this with a personal touch. Not your typical making-of puff promo, which makes it a good watch.

Rounding out the extras are four Deleted Scenes, which run a whopping 31 minutes in total. Each scene is essentially another story, which highlight other teachers, students and their families.

 


"Waiting For 'Superman'" is a must-see documentary, that not only takes a thorough look at education in the United States, but lets us into the lives of students and families who are directly affected by it. This is a very nice Blu-ray edition of the film: the film looks and sounds excellent, but the supplements shed more light on the public school system in the U.S.