There's not much in Odessa, Texas to get excited about. Nothing, that is, but their championship high-school football team. On Friday Night when the kids get out on the field under the Lights, there's plenty of excitement in the air. Coach Gaines (Thornton) is determined to make this year another winning season but the pressure on the boys, both on the field and off, guarantees that he's got his work cut out for him. Based on a true story, which took place in west Texas in 1988 and on the book by H. G. Bissinger. Tricia Littrell)
Special features include 10 action-packed deleted scenes, a scene-specific discussion with Director Peter Berg, a four-minute behind-the-scenes look with the youthful cast, six minutes with a not-singing Tim McGraw, feature audio commentary with Berg and Writer Buzz Bissinger, The Story Of The 1988 Periman Panthers and Behind The Lights featurettes, and a behind-the-scenes look at recruiting the actual football players from a field of 280 down to 40. Got tired just watching.
With good shadow delineation and colors that really pop, the 2.35:1 HD DVD picture has some impressive dimensionality. Combine that with impressive detail in everything from skin, to clothes, to dirt, endless blacks, and impressive cinematography, and you have a very good high-definition picture. The whites can seem slightly blown-out in some scenes, which can leave fleshtones looking pasty. The inherent grittiness from the source element is transferred onto the HD DVD format nicely, and edge enhancement is not readily apparent. Using the VC-1 codec, pixel breakup is not a problem like it was with the DVD release. In the end, this is a very good picture.(Danny Richelieu)
Unfortunately, the Dolby® Digital Plus 5.1-channel soundtrack does not include the surround envelopment that a top-flight soundtrack will provide. It is unfortunate because, as is generally the case with HD DVD releases, fidelity is impressive, and bass is tight and powerful, really putting the listening space in the action during the football sequences. Dynamic range is quite good in this release, with the subtle, quiescent noises of drizzling rain coming through just as well as the raucous roar of the capacity-filled stadiums. Again, it really is a shame the surround channels weren't used more frequently and with more force, as they really could have done wonders to this soundtrack. (Danny Richelieu)