DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily Blu-ray Disc & DVD news and reviews
The Weinstein Company
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/27/2015
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/27/2015
Over the years, I've started many reviews discussing the remake/reboot/ reimagining epidemic. Every time that I think that it's subsided, it starts right back up again. (I just entered "upcoming remakes" into a search engine and got a big dose of bad news.) Why Hollywood feels the need to remake everything (money) is an argument which we will set aside for another time. Today, I want to discuss the remakes which are disguised as new movies. These movies want you to think that they are original, but while watching them, you say to yourself, "Hey! This is exactly like ______!" The latest movie to attempt to pulls this feat of cinematic slight of hand is Southpaw, a movie which will feel very familiar to Generation X.
As Southpaw opens, Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is defending his boxing title. At ringside, as always, is devoted wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), and his manager, Jordan Mains (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson). Billy takes his share of punches, but wins the match. At the post-match press conference, Billy is accosted by Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez), a fellow fighter who wants his shot at the title. But, Billy ignores this, as he wants to get home to his little girl, Leila (Oona Laurence). Billy, who was raised in an orphanage, seems to have everything -- big house, loving family, and a great career. But, when tragedy strikes, it's all taken away. Billy learns that he's been spending too much money and he's in danger of losing Leila. As if that weren't bad enough, he's been banned from boxing. Billy decides to simplify everything and approaches Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) to be his new trainer. Can Billy work his way back to the top?
Going into Southpaw, I knew very little about the film, save that it was about boxing and that Gyllenhaal made headlines for getting into such great shape having just lost so much weight forNightcrawler. For some reason, I assumed that it was going to be yet another “rags to riches” boxing film about a scrappy underdog, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that not only was Billy already the champ when the film opened, but that he was rich and happy as well. Then, just a few minutes into the movie, a challenger confronted a champion during a press conference and I began to get a bad feeling. Once the movie took a big turn at the end of the first act and the actual story arrived, that feeling got worse. It didn’t take long for my newly-found suspicions to bloom. Southpaw wasn’t a new movie -- Southpaw is a loose remake of Rocky III!
Just as in that classic Stallone film, the movie opens with a boxer who is on top and has been successfully defending his title. He’s happily married and lives in a big house, where he enjoys extravagances. In a public setting, he’s confronted by a challenger, who not only calls out the champ, but makes advances towards his wife as well. Tragedy strikes and the boxer is forced to take a look at himself, which includes facing the fact that he may have been fighting lesser opponents in order to hold onto his belt. The boxer than leaves his lavish lifestyle behind to train in a run-down inner-city gym, where he’s taught to ignore his bruiser way and become a faster, more lean fighter. Following all of this, he may be given a chance at redemption.
Fresh off of his success with TV’s Sons of Anarchy, screenwriter Kurt Sutter does little to avoid every boxing movie cliche which there is. I realize that it’s probably very difficult to craft an original boxing movie today, but aside from borrowing the structure from Rocky III, the movie manages to bring in other solid favorites like the “will he/won’t he get up when he’s been knocked down during the big fight” and, everybody’s favorite, the training montage. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that Billy isn’t a very likeable or sympathetic character. We want to feel sorry for him and his love for his family is palpable, but he also makes a lot of bad choices and comes across as a punk at times. Gyllenhaal is clearly giving it his all here, but his unintelligible mumbling gets a little too “method” at times.
I can only imagine that someone greenlit Southpaw because they decided that this particular story hadn’t been told in a while and it was ripe for a comeback. But, the movie takes a beating from its cliche-ridden script and only someone who has not seen a boxing film will find any of this interesting. Director Antoine Fuqua withOlympus Has Fallen, which was basically a remake of Die Hard, but he managed to add just enough new stuff to make that movie interesting. He fails here, only hitting the stereotypical notes and failing to breathe any life into the film. A waste of a good cast, Southpaw is quickly down for the count.
Southpaw couldn’t have given its main character a more eye-roll worthy name if it tried on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look fine, and the image is never overly dark or bright. There is a notable amount of depth here, which works very well during the fight scenes. There is also a good amount of detail, which means that he can see every cut on Billy’s face. 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 provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The boxing match scenes really bring this track to life, as we get a very nice mixture of surround and stereo effects. The roar of the crowd fills the rear speakers, as the bass emphasizes each punch. The stereo effects show good separation and at times, we can pick out distinct noises.
The Southpaw Blu-ray Disc contains a small amount of extras. The Disc offers eight DELETED SCENES which run about 21 minutes. There are no new characters or subplots here, but there is a scene which shows Leila defending herself which should have been left in the movie. "Southpaw: Inside the Ring" (22 minutes) is a fairly standard making-of featurette which offers interviews with the cast and creative team, on-set footage, and clips. We hear about the shooting of the film and the training which was involved, as well as the dramatic themes. "Q&A with Cast" (19 minutes) was conducted at the Screen Actors Guild in July, 2015 and moderated by Dave Karger of Fandango. All of the primary cast was in attendance and fielded questions. The final extra is an "Extended Training Montage" (4 minutes), which shows that they know exactly what viewers want.
Review Copyright 2015 by Mike Long