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The Blind Side(2009)
An teenager in Memphis, whose father was murdered and whose mother was a crack addict, is shuffled through the public school system, despite his low grade point average and absenteeism. But his tremendous size and quickness attracts the interest of a wealthy couple who take him in and groom him both athletically and academically to become one of the top high-school football prospects in the country.
For more about The Blind Side and the The Blind Side Blu-ray release, see the The Blind Side Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 17, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Kathy Bates, Lily Collins, Kim Dickens
Director: John Lee Hancock
» See full cast & crew
The Blind Side Blu-ray Review
Been there, done that, cried that river before...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 17, 2010
Never mind whether Sandra Bullock deserved to take home a Best Actress statue at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, somehow besting Carey Mulligan's spectacular turn in An Education and newcomer Gabourey Sidibe's raw, gut-punch performance in Precious. Her memorable portrayal of tough-as-nails Memphis belle Leigh Anne Tuohy, NFL lineman Michael Oher's blond-locked savior, is more nuanced than filmfans might expect. That being said, The Blind Side is exactly what I expected: an overtly sentimental, manipulative tearjerker that buffs and polishes Oher's moving story so much that it fails to ring as true as its most ardent cheerleaders would have genre cynics believe. Don't get me wrong, it preaches a valuable sermon and works well within its established parameters, but I found myself rolling my eyes far more often than wiping them. Bullock's work, though impressive, only highlights her castmates' ungainly wooden performances; writer/director John Lee Hancock's by-the-numbers script, though derived from pure intentions, often panders to the lowest common denominator; and Quinton Aaron's breakout role, though affecting, presents a character that's a bit more John Coffey than... well, Michael Oher.
Based on a portion of Michael Lewis' 2006 book "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," The Blind Side weaves the admittedly inspirational tale of Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), a troubled young Tennessee giant who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to attend Briarcrest Christian School, enroll at the University of Mississippi, and eventually earn his place as a starting offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. But it certainly wasn't an easy journey. After narrowly escaping the life laid out for him by his cocaine-addicted mother and recently deceased father, Oher meets Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock) and Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw), a wealthy couple who invite the towering young man into their home and family. Struggling to maintain his grades at Briarcrest, "Big Mike" slowly works his way out of his own mind with the help of the Tuohys and their children, the guidance of several compassionate teachers, and the faith (and sometimes strained patience) of his football coach, Burt Cotton (Ray McKinnon, overreaching with the best of them). But Leigh Anne isn't a heart-on-her-sleeve hugger or a it'll-be-alright-kiddo kinda woman. Doling out equal parts tough love and blunt advice, she's exactly what Oher needs: a mother he can rely on, regardless of what tries to bring him down.
It's easy to see why The Blind Side graced so many best-of lists last year. Overflowing with gaudy sentiment and inspiring one-liners, it's the sort of film that pats its audience on the head and whispers, "hush now, there's a lot of decent people out there." And there are, I get it. For what it's worth, I walked away from Hancock's Oscar-winner with the firm belief that, regardless of any controversy or accusations that have been hurled their way, the Tuohys are wonderful people. I only wish the film had treated them more like the fallible human beings I'm sure they are. As Hancock presents them, the Tuohy family is an idyllic clan willing to sacrifice almost anything and everything for a complete stranger. Their arguments are friendly debates, their children have been ripped out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and their relationship with Oher is unwavering. While he does stop short of casting them as suburban saints -- he affords each one a few, harmless flaws -- their conflicts are with those who would sell Big Mike short, and rarely with each other. I suppose it works when Hancock swings wide, furiously plucking heartstrings with the subtlety of a vicious quarterback sack, but more often than not, it taints the believability of his more arresting scenes, and inadvertently calls the details of the story into question. But who knows? Maybe I'm just too much of a northern pessimist to recognize good ol' southern hospitality.
After tackling a grueling, unrelenting drama like Precious, it was next to impossible to take a prim-n-proper Hollywood genre pic like The Blind Side at face value. I don't expect every spared-from-the-projects film to feel like an episode of The Wire, but I simply don't have the stomach for manufactured inspiration. Effective motivation is cultivated in reality, not an approximation of it; legitimate conviction is born of ugly truths, not prepackaged righteousness or tidy morality. A small but vocal crowd has suggested Hancock's message is a racist one; that his preoccupation with a white family's efforts to save a poor black kid from the ghetto perpetuates dangerous stereotypes. But his handling of the Tuohys kindness strays off course because of emotional narrow-mindedness, not racial short-sightedness. He simplifies every exchange and encounter, two-dimensionalizes every conflict, and undermines Oher's hand in his fate. The end result isn't dangerous, it's just superficial. The Blind Side isn't a bad film, it really isn't, but it struck me as terribly ordinary and far less uplifting than so many others have found it to be. I wasn't reduced to a heap of man-tears, I didn't well up at anything other than Michael and Leigh Anne's relationship, and I nearly laughed out loud whenever Hancock tried to paint a portrait of lower-class life in Tennessee. I have no doubt many a cinephile will sniffle and nod their way through The Blind Side, but I've seen this one too many times before to be duped by such shallow, studio-brushed melodrama. I'll stick with Lewis' book and Oher's story, both of which hit harder and ring truer than Hancock's film.
The Blind Side Blu-ray, Video Quality
Twice-baked in the heat of a sweltering Tennessee summer, The Blind Side's 1080p/VC-1 transfer is an able-bodied beaut, even if Alar Kivilo's matter-of-fact cinematography is burdened with oversaturated skintones and overcooked contrast. Bold primaries demand attention, striking greens breathe life into the Briarcrest grounds, and exceedingly rich black levels grant the picture punch. Whether Bullock is staring down a weary offensive line during a tough practice or visiting the impoverished areas of her community, Warner's presentation remains strong and stable, ever faithful to Hancock's intentions. Detail is a bit inconsistent on occasion -- a series of comparatively soft shots prove to be distractions, and poorly lit scenes are hindered by weak delineation -- but the majority of the film looks great. Textures, particularly in tight closeups, are sharp and refined, definition is clean and crisp, and overall clarity is impressive throughout. Moreover, anomalies like artifacting and source noise don't invade the proceedings, and crush, though a persistent issue, only becomes a notable problem during a handful of sequences. The Blind Side's transfer isn't going to draw a crowd or snap any necks, but it will satisfy the film's fans... if they can actually see what it has to offer through those teary eyes.
The Blind Side Blu-ray, Audio Quality
While Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't going to win any awards either, it's still a technically proficient mix that handles the film's overeager sound design and Carter Burwell's heartstring score with ease. Be it a quiet exchange or an impassioned debate, dialogue is warm and intelligible (albeit a tad bright at times), and prioritization is measured and precise. Likewise, LFE output lends welcome oomph to every tackle, weight to every first-down tussle, and presence to every stadium crowd. The rear speakers hold their own as well, enveloping the listener in Oher's on-field and off-field drama with convincing interior acoustics and immersive ambient effects. Take note of the background chatter that frequents the Briarcrest campus, and the sideline chaos that erupts after a successful play. Notice the tonal differences between the spacious Tuohy abode and the confines of a troubled woman's dilapidated apartment; the tenor of a voice in the brisk night air and during a sweaty midday practice. You won't be fooled into believing a mammoth offensive lineman has stumbled into your home theater, but you will feel much, much closer to the football field than anyone who picks up the disc's DVD counterpart. All things considered, The Blind Side almost escapes the pull of its somewhat pedestrian sound design, and delivers a dependable lossless experience worthy of its subject matter.
The Blind Side Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of The Blind Side arrives with an hour of special features, the majority of which do little more than skim the surface of Oher's life and Hancock's adaptation. Don't get me wrong, the material on hand is certainly appreciated, but I was hoping for a more candid and extensive supplemental package.
The Blind Side Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even though The Blind Side drew a few tears, I had a hard time investing in its one-dimensional portrayal of the Tuohys and their Briarcrest boyscouts, connecting with Aaron's gentle giant, and allowing Hancock to have a ham-fisted go at my heartstrings. A high-dollar Hallmark film through and through, I remain decidedly unimpressed. The Blu-ray edition is a bit better -- it offers an excellent video transfer and an upright DTS-HD Master Audio track -- but its succinct, hour-long supplemental package leaves a lot to be desired. Ultimately, anyone who enjoys The Blind Side will be more than happy to part with their hard-earned cash. But newcomers should stick with a rental until they determine whether Hancock's sappy adaptation is worthy of their affection.
The Blind Side: Other Editions
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• Blockbuster Gets 4-Week Headstart with WB New Releases - March 23, 2010
Blockbuster Inc. scored a coup today by announcing a new agreement with Warner Bros. to provide immediate availability of DVD and Blu-ray titles from that studio. Thus, The Blind Side will be available on March 23, in Blockbuster stores and by-mail. And on March ...
• The 82nd Oscars and Blu-ray - March 8, 2010
Virtually all the award-winning titles at last night's Academy Award ceremony are already out on Blu-ray or will be soon. The Hurt Locker was the clear winner, with six Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director (the first time for a female director, Kathryn ...
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