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Major League (Wild Thing Edition) (1989) Print E-mail
Monday, 11 May 2009
Image"Major League" has not been one of my long time favorites.  Still, it has some comedic charm about it.  And, when it comes to baseball flicks, this is probably one of the better ones.  Especially when it is compared to films such as "Rookie of the Year" and "Little Big League."  The film grossed roughly $50 million at the box office, well beyond its production budget of $11 million.

"Major League" is a silly baseball film that is centered on a bunch of misfits that were assembled to make up the Cleveland Indians team.  When the team's owner dies, the Indians are left to his showgirl wife, Rachel (Margaret Whitton).  Her devious plan is to get such low fan attendance over the course of the season that she can get out of the lease with the city and move the team to Miami.

Rachel invites the most obscure and lame ball players to spring training camp to ensure that the team would come in dead last.  The trainees consist of persons that are way past their prime, come from a penal colony or are just odd players.  Once spring training is finished, Lou (James Gammon), the team manager has assembled the finest team possible.  Of course, this isn't saying very much.

Just as expected, when the gates open at Municipal Field, the stands remain empty and the Indians suck big time.  Despite their horrible playing, they eventually have a record with 15 wins, which is beyond me how they won that many games.  As the team begins to win more and more games, Rachel tries to think of ways to take away "luxuries," such as a proper plane and therapy equipment.

Eventually, Rachel's general manager confronts Lou about Rachel's plot.  When the team gets wind of this they vow to win it all.  Needing to win 32 more games to get first place, the team starts to buckle down and practice, practice, practice.

It is only to be expected that the film have some relationship issues.  Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger), the Indians' catcher reunites with longtime ex-girlfriend, Lynn (Rene Russo).  She is engaged to a big shot attorney, but when Jake reenters her life she begins to have second thoughts.  I'm sure you can all figure out what happens in the end.  In addition to this drama, Rock Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) gets suckered into affair business when he gets it on with fellow teammate Roger Dorn's wife, Suzanne (Stacy Carroll).  Suzanne was simply getting back at her husband for cheating on her with some groupie at a hotel, which she happened to catch on TV.

With all this drama when do they have time to focus on playing ball.  Well, apparently they find the time as they eventually tie with the Yankees for first place.  The final showdown between the Indians and Yankees isn't one of the greatest cinematic climaxes, but it is entertaining. "Major League" is perhaps most notable for Wild Thing, the hectic pitching by Rick Vaughn.  Sheen does a good job with this role.  The cast is made up of several actors that went on to have even better careers, such as Dennis Haysbert of "24" and "Allstate Insurance" fame, and obviously Wesley Snipes.

"Major League" comes to Blu-ray with an MPEG-4 AVC, 1.85:1 video transfer.  The transfer is decent for a 1989 film, but it doesn't look like too much preservation went into this film.  The film's print source is extremely dirty, causing white and black spots to pop up all over the place.  This becomes extremely annoying really fast.  The rest of the transfer is plagued by inconsistency.  The black levels fluctuate from sequence to sequence.  They can be rich and lush at times and virtually non-existent in at other times.  The colors also fluctuate, usually corresponding with the strength of the black levels.  Fleshtones move throughout the spectrum, from yellow and blue to orange and red.  Film grain is also extremely noticeable, which I still prefer over tons of digital noise reduction.  The transfer's details are fairly impressive.  They are certainly not up to Blu-ray standards, but would fit nicely on an HD 720p broadcast.  Just as with everything else, the details sometimes fade, giving way to very soft images.  The transfer is far better than the standard DVD, but only because it is on a format that has 225 percent more resolution.  There does not seem to any corrections done to this transfer.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, despite the original stereo mix of the film.  Like all the other transfers of this film period, the surround channels are filled only with music bleed.  The mix is largely front heavy.  The LFE channel is virtually absent.  There isn't much in the way of dynamic range.  Frequency response seems to be pretty even, although the extreme low frequencies and high frequencies seem to be slightly attenuated.  The dialogue is clear, but not as stable I would like it to be.  While it is always audible, it rises and dips throughout the film.  There isn't much benefit to this audio track being in TrueHD over the Dolby Digital track.

The Blu-ray comes with the same bonus materials as the standard DVD, all remaining in standard definition.  First, there is an audio commentary with writer/director David S. Ward and producer Chris Cheeser.  There isn't much to this commentary and isn't really worth the time listening to.  "My Kinda Team" takes a look at the cast members.  "A Major League Look at 'Major League'" is probably the best feature that has thoughts on the film from real-life baseball players.  "Bob Uecker: Just a Bit Outside" examines Harry Doyle, the Indians announcer.  There is an alternate ending, which is worse than the original ending.  Lastly, there is a photo gallery and a tour of Cerrano's locker.

"Major League" isn't a baseball classic, but it is entertaining.  The film slows down at too many points over the course of its runtime to make it completely engaging.  The video and audio quality are representative of "Major League" being a 20 year-old film.  The upgrade to Blu-ray shows off the original print's flaws, especially when no correction has been done by the studio.  I recommend this Blu-ray for sports fans, but probably just a rent for other viewers.

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