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On the game winning play of the biggest game of his life, the best High School Football player in the nation injures his knee and destroys his dreams of a college and professional career. But fifteen years later, he receives the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to go back and change history.
For more about Touchback and the Touchback Blu-ray release, see Touchback Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 8, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Brian Presley, Kurt Russell, Melanie Lynskey, Marc Blucas, Christine Lahti
Director: Don Handfield
» See full cast & crew
Touchback Blu-ray Review
'Touchback' is really a touchdown.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 8, 2012
Whatever happens, it's your choice.
Sometimes the game of life results in an incomplete pass, a fumble, a costly interception, or a game-changing injury. Sometimes in the game of life, the moment results in victory but the cost is ultimately greater than a loss. Sometimes, a loss -- and not necessarily on the scoreboard -- can bring about a big win, a roundabout way through which fate may work its magic, destiny may take its course, some invisible, higher power may nudge everything into perfect harmony. Sometimes victory does come from defeat, and that's at the center of Touchback, the heartfelt story of one man's unanswered prayers and his second chance to do it all over again, to live the dream but lose everything that makes him who he is, in his core essence and not just his unrealized stats on the field, his unfulfilled legend in the game, or the missing dollars in his bank account. It's a story that demonstrates that oft overlooked part of life which says being better off isn't necessarily for the best, that the way things might have been aren't the way things need to be, that regrets are sometimes just stepping stones to true happiness. It's a predictable movie in many ways, but it's the journey and the message that make Touchback one of the year's best and most honest inspirational tales.
Scott Murphy (Brian Presley) was Ohio's "Mr. Football" 1991, a Quarterback with unnatural gifts on the field, a scholarship to Ohio State, a future in the pros ahead of him, a loving mother behind him, and a beautiful girl at his side. He's led his Coldwater Blackbears to the state championship game against the powerful Cuyahoga Red Raiders, a big-city team fielding almost all college-level athletes hailing from a school that's home to more students than Coldwater is people. Murphy wins the game with a daring touchdown run but is injured on the play. His scholarship goes away and he grows into a world-weary husband and father who walks with a brace on his leg and spends his nights drinking his sorrows away with his buddies. He's still got a cannon for an arm and can still throw a perfect spiral, whether tossing the old pigskin or chucking the empty whiskey bottle. He and his wife Macy (Melanie Lynskey) don't have much more than their daughters and their love. They're nearly bankrupt and counting on a soy bean crop to save them. Unfortunately, an unexpected freeze, broken farm equipment, and ill-timed rain promise to ruin the last shred of hope the family has. Murphy thinks it might be best to end it all, but before his truck's fumes can do him in, he awakens back in 1991, reliving the week leading up to the big game against Cuyahoga. Will he allow fate to lead him down the same path towards Macy and his future family, or will he air out a touchdown pass to win the game and ensure a more financially stable life in football and change his destiny forever?
To claim that there's a shred of originality in Touchback would be untrue. The movie largely goes through the "Inspirational Life and Sports" mantra with nary a minor deviation from the expected, obligatory, and certainly necessary path. It's a well-worn path but hardly a tired path, and therein lies the secret to this movie's success, and certainly that of others like it. It never gets old to feel inspired by a good movie, to see life's positives reinforced on the screen, to witness good, honest people not just succeed in the ways society today defines "success" but to succeed in life, to succeed where it matters, to witness them not just embracing facts and fate but to cherish what life has given them, to be reminded that glory isn't just something achieved on the field but rather felt in the heart and just known deep in the soul. Touchback's story absolutely lacks surprise -- audiences know exactly what Murphy will do with his second chance -- but it's through his quest to get to that point, in his ability to come to see life for what it is and will be rather than merely what it could have been, that makes the movie so moving, so gripping, so heartfelt and true. This is good, positive moviemaking with a very clear message, a truly uplifting movie about appreciating what really matters, about not ignoring everything else but cherishing that which truly defines a life beyond a resumé, a bank account, or an unfulfilled promise and glory on the football field.
Technically, Touchback is as stout and sturdy as most of its similarly-themed brethren. The movie isn't home to a gargantuan budget, but it's seamlessly assembled within the confines of its small-town setting; the movie gets a lot of mileage simply from staying true to a core value system and the plot's roots. It's simple storytelling crafted just as simply, with a confident know-how and an emphasis on story first and nothing extraneous along the way. The football scenes are very well put together, typical of what audiences have seen before in movies like Varsity Blues. The camera gets into the huddle, on the line of scrimmage, and in between the action to pull the audience onto the field and not only in the midst of the football action, but the consequences of Murphy's decision. The movie beautifully frames its visuals in a way that doesn't just show the movie, but conveys the characters' emotions and thought processes, bringing to the screen the innermost workings of the mind that shape the plot just as much as raw football action and spoken dialogue. The cast is stellar and the performances are equally impressive. Kurt Russell plays a typical football coach in many ways but captures just a slightest bit of a sense that he understands some greater role of fate and destiny with the game on the line and prior to Murphy's choice. It's a solid performance from an actor who remains one of the best in the business. Of course, it's the Brian Presley and Melanie Lynskey performances that solidify the picture and enhance the plot. The two share an effortless chemistry whether in current times or back in high school where they're distant but slowly drawn together by Murphy's efforts and an overhanging sense of destiny that Macy feels but also fears. They're both stellar in what are outwardly simple but inwardly complex roles, and their mastery of the film on both sides of the ball, so to speak -- in the present and in the past -- round the movie into form and elevate it from merely "good" to dramatically "great" and, at the same time, emotionally satisfying.
Touchback Blu-ray, Video Quality
Touchback scores a balanced and pleasing 1080p high definition transfer. Anchor Bay's 1.78:1-framed image isn't as vibrant as some of the most eye-popping transfers sourced from HD video photography, but there are nice, even colors and quality details throughout. Some of the brighter clothes and objects seen in the 1991 flashback scenes, particularly the red and yellow mesh practice football jerseys and the bright green field grass, are pleasing and true, even if they don't explode off the screen. The red fire engine and bright emergency worker apparel seen near film's start also impress in their natural, even appearance. Likewise, detail isn't so intricate as to catch longtime Blu-ray viewers off-guard or truly dazzle veteran HD fans, but there's satisfaction in the image's sturdiness and consistency. The elder Murphy's mesh cap, the rust and scratches and wear and tear on his old pickup truck, and the definition of tall weeds and gravel driveways look quite good. Black levels are deep and true, flesh tones generally natural, and only some banding hinders an otherwise consistent and satisfying transfer.
Touchback Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Touchback arrives on Blu-ray with an accurate, balanced, and satisfying Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This is a smooth, seamless presentation, from the light notes hovering over the opening titles and drifting off to the sides and into the back all the way through to the all-immersive football scenes that bookend the film. Musical clarity is superb, with good spread and rich, accurate notes throughout the range. This includes both score and popular music, including Life is a Highway heard during the film's second act. the track inserts good ambience, whether exterior small town and country elements, the background sounds inside the school, or the rattle as heard inside Murphy's truck. The football scenes are dazzling, with loud and wonderfully clear and exciting crowd cheers that spread around the stage and truly immerse the listener into the environment. Additionally, hard tackles and the crashing of protective gear push the lower end but maintain a pleasing authenticity. Dialogue is steady, clear, and focused in the center channel. This is a very good track, a fine companion to the film and a quality listening experience in every regard.
Touchback Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Touchback contains the following two bonus features, in addition to a DVD copy of the film and a voucher to watch the movie on Vudu.
Touchback Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Touchback won't work for audiences looking for originality above all else, but for viewers who appreciate a solid, grounded-in-life story of the opportunity at a second chance and the consequences of giving up one life for another will find the movie to be of high value. Such audiences will find it tender and sweet, an uplifting picture that reinforces positives and demonstrates that sometimes living the dream doesn't mean fame and fortune. Great performances, a steady script, beautiful filming locales, and an even cadence all make Touchback a touchdown. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Touchback features solid video and audio. Two supplements are included, as are DVD and Vudu copies of the film. Highly recommended.
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Touchback Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Touchback Blu-ray - August 29, 2012
Anchor Bay Home Entertainment will release a combo pack edition of director Don Handfield's Touchback (2011), starring Brian Presley, Kurt Russell, Marc Blucas and Melanie Lynskey. The release will be available for purchase exclusively at Walmart on September ...
Touchback Blu-ray Screenshots
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