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Draft Day (2014)
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/2/2014
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/29/2014
As someone who has watched a million DVD and Blu-ray Disc extras (Note: All numbers and data featured on DVDSleuth.com are approximate.), I relish the ones which feature someone actually being honest and not just offering us another puff-piece to promote the movie (which is probably a dud anyway). This typically only occurs with older movies, where those speaking no longer care if the truth about the movie in question is revealed. However, we occasionally get a nugget of sincerity from a modern film, such as when Draft Day Producer Joe Medjuck admitted that the movie may not play well in foreign markets due to the fact that it focused on American football. Mr. Medjuck's fear is the perfect introduction to a decidedly black-and-white review.
As the title implies, Draft Day takes place on the day of the NFL Draft (The day in which college players are chosen by the professional football teams.) The film focuses on the Cleveland Browns organization, which is struggling to rebuild after a disappointing season. General Manager Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) feels pressured to make the right picks, not just for the sake of the team and the city of Cleveland, but because his father was a huge part of the organization. Sonny's day opens with a call from the Seattle Seahawks, who want to trade their number one overall pick to the Browns for a large number of future picks. From that point on, Sonny must traverse a number of obstacles, as he must juggle the opinions of Coach Penn (Denis Leary), team owner Anthony Molina (Frank Langella), and team accountant/girlfriend Ali (Jennifer Garner). Sonny must evaluate the top prospects to ensure that he's picking a player who has talent, but stability as well. As the countdown to the opening of the draft winds down, Sonny has to decide if he wants to please everyone else or go with his gut.
Sometimes I struggle to make a case for whether or not I liked a movie and how I would or wouldn't recommend it. That won't be a problem with Draft Day, as this is an easy call. Exceptions aside (as there are always exceptions), if you like the NFL, then you'll like the movie. If you don't follow the NFL or know anything about football, then is most likely not the movie for you. For the former, you'll be impressed with the amount of detail in the film. Unlike so many of its predecessors, Draft Day was made in conjunction with the NFL and ESPN (and yes, it often looks like a commercial for both), which means that it has real teams and players. True, the story could have been told with fictional teams, but the inclusion of familiar names adds depth to the movie. Those who know football are aware that the Browns have long since been a sad sack team, so having them as the center-piece actually means something.
In addition, the movie doesn't shy away from being technical. The opening involves Sonny being offered a trade and it immediately jumps into lingo involving draft picks and it doesn't slow down from there. This is by no means an intellectual film, but if you don't know certain terms or aren't acquainted with how the draft and trades work, you may be lost. As the story progresses, the movie not only goes through trades, but we hear and see Sonny analyzing the potential draft picks, watching game film, and weighing their pros and cons. The movie also surprises us by moving beyond the draft. Football junkies will love this.
So, what does Draft Day have to offer for those who don't care about football? Not much. To its credit, Draft Day does try to offer some depth. We get the relationship between Sonny and Ali, but some may find it difficult to swallow due to the 17-year age difference between Costner and Garner. There is also the sub-plot involving Sonny's Mother (Ellen Burstyn) and her demands on her son. These moments add some melodrama to the proceedings, but they honestly feel tacked on -- They come across as exactly what they are, an attempt to add extra drama to a story which should be intense enough in its own right. The comic relief involving an intern (Griffin Newman) doesn't feel as forced, but the movie would have been fine without it.
It would be very easy to say that Draft Day is the football equivalent of Moneyball and that would not be an unfair comparison, as both movies leave the playing field behind and take us into the executive offices to experience the business side of sports. Draft Day does an excellent job of giving us an idea of what things are really like on Draft Day and how the deals come and go. And yet, the movie simply isn't as intense as it should have been. This may lie with Director Ivan Reitman, who is, of course, known for his comedies. And yet, Reitman proves to be a revelation here, as his use of split-screen is incredibly creative and brings a much-needed edge to the film. Draft Day isn't perfect, but it proves to be a touchdown for football fans.
Draft Day needed to spread the love around to a few more teams on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Lionsgate. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture has a very nice crispness to it, which help to deliver noticeable depth. The level of detail is good and we can see textures on objects. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. We get some interesting effects during the transition scenes which travel through the front and surround channels. Also, the musical cues fill the rear speakers. The audience at the Draft nicely flows through the surround channels, and creates a small amount of subwoofer action.
The Draft Day Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writers Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman. "On the Clock: The Making of Draft Day" (60 minutes) is an in-depth featurette which contains a wealth of comments from Reitman, the writers, the producers, the cast, and consultants. The piece examines the development of the script, the involvement of the NFL, and how the various parts became involved. We hear from many of the main cast, who discuss their characters. The piece then explores location scouting and the shooting of the film. "Welcome to Primetime" (10 minutes) is a discussion of the madness of the NFL Draft, accompanied by many clips from the film. The Disc five contains DELETED SCENES which run about 9 minutes. These are mainly expository scenes, but they do introduce Sonny's mother and ex-wife earlier. (And we get a cut scene with Beaver from Greek.) The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long