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Friday Night Lights Print E-mail
Thursday, 15 January 2009
ImageI don’t know what is about society and sports movies – particularly football films.  I will admit from the start that I think watching sports is a waste of time and have absolutely no interest in football.  Knowing that going into “Friday Night Lights,” I tried to put it aside and concentrate on the film itself.  Unfortunately, there was no film to turn to.  I think watching this film is about as close to being tortured as I will ever get.  Now that you know how I feel, let me explain why.

“Friday Night Lights” is nothing more than a bunch of arrogant high-school students in a Texas town where everyone seems to be missing a chromosome or two and raises kids to respect nothing but football.  The kids receive no education, speak like idiots and are filled with macho bulls**t.  Everyone’s choice revolves around football, making the medical choices of players and guardians utterly idiotic.  The rest of the film is occupied with montages of crunching bones and tackling.  Seriously, you may as well at least watch a real football game.  That way, you would at least get to see the game progress and not know the outcome.

There is really nothing else to say about this movie.  There is nothing: no acting, no story, no interesting cinematography, zippo.  Turd.

The film combines the worst elements you can find in movies like “”Remember The Titans” and “Varsity Blues.”  Those are two movies that I happen to respect, probably the only two football movies that I do.  In “Friday Night Lights,” the West Canaan Coyotes become the Permian Panthers, other than that it is a rip off of “Varsity Blues,” but without the humor. Basically, Billy Bob Thorton stars as Coach Gaines, and is a wimp as compared with the PE teacher he played in “Mr. Woodcock.”  He coaches a high-school football team in a small town somewhere in Texas.  The team is filled with brainless bodies, and happens to have one real star player, who is the cockiest of them all (naturally).  He tears his ACL in the first game of the season and the rest of the film is about the other members of the team rising up and winning pretty much the rest of the season.  But don’t expect a happy ending with this film.

The video on the Blu-ray appears to be identical to the VC-1 encode on the previously released HD DVD.  The Blu-ray contains an AVC MPEG-4 1080p encode.  I couldn’t distinguish any difference between the two releases.  As before, this release has a fairly good video transfer, considering the stylistic choice it has to work with.  The black levels and contrast are considerably good.  However, some of the low-lit scenes lose details in the shadows.  Dark areas become spotty.  Shadow delineation is not the best.  Sharpness is decent for the source material.  The colors are drab to begin with, so I didn’t expect much in this department.  Everything has a yellow and orange push.  The fleshtones are accurate and stable.  The hues have been pushed in post-production to make Odessa, Texas look nicer than it really is.  This a solid video transfer wasted on a pathetic film.

The audio track on the Blu-ray has been upgraded to a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track as compared with the HD DVD’s Dolby Digital Plus track.  It is an upgrade, but the film’s sound design is poor too say the least.  For such a high-octane sports movie, there should have been a lot more activity in the soundscape.  The surround channels only contain some bleeding of the forward-oriented sounds.  With the video editing the way it is, it is difficult to find any cohesiveness in the audio.  The dialogue is decent, although bland.  Sometimes the dialogue disappears amidst the football activity.  This is mainly due to the fact that the sounds a particularly front-heavy.  There is no space surrounding the audio track.  Everything sounds jammed together.  The LFE channel is surprisingly lacking.  With all the bone crunching action, I expected much more low end.  The audio track is okay, but not great.

The Blu-ray contains all the bonus materials that were present on the HD DVD version.  They are presented in 480p.  First there is an audio commentary with director Peter Berg and author Buzz Bissinger.  This track focuses mainly on the adapting of the novel to the film, and not on the particular making-of of the film.  There is a collection of featurettes.  First, “Tim McGraw: Off the Stage” briefly discusses McGraw’s transfer from music to movies.  “The Story of the 1988 Permian Panthers” contains interviews with the real life Panthers Team.  “Peter Berg Discusses a Scene in the Movie” analyzes a minor scene in the movie.  Lastly, “Player Cam” is a four0-minute ridiculous feature shot by one of the actors.  “Behind the Lights” is a making-of featurette.  “Gridiron Gang” examines the casting of extras for the film.  There is a collection of 10 deleted and extended scenes that are equivalent to the standard set by the rest of the movie.  Lastly, there is a BD-Live section that contains the My Scenes function.

“Friday Night Lights” is a waste of time.  The film rating would be zero stars if the system allowed me to do so, but alas it gets a half of one star rating.  The video quality is fairly good and the audio quality is okay, but it is all wasted on a horrible film.  However, I’m sure there are plenty of football fanatics out there that would love to add this to their collection.  So in that case, the video and audio quality will be more than suitable for you.

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