Cinderella Man

Featured In Issue 110, July 2006

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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For intense boxing violence and some language.
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Single Side, Dual Layer (HD-30)
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Ron Howard
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Dolby Digital+ 5.1
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"Cinderella Man" is the emotional true story of Jim Braddock (Crowe), a man who goes to extremes for the love of his family. During the Great Depression with his boxing career over, Braddock worked menial jobs and struggled to make ends meet. Determined to do more for his loving wife Mae (Zellweger), Jim goes back into the ring and makes the ultimate comeback. (Tricia Spears)

As with the Collector's Edition DVD, this new HD DVD includes many identical features including the three feature commentary tracks: director Ron Howard, writer Akiva Goldsman, and writer Cliff Hollingsworth. There are deleted scenes with optional commentary by director Ron Howard; 11 featurettes: "The Fight Card: Casting Cinderella Man," (23 minutes), "The Man, The Movie, The Legend: A Filmmaking Journey" (14 minutes), "For The Record: A History In Boxing" (seven minutes), "Ringside Seats" (nine minutes), "Jim Braddock: The Friends & Family Behind The Legend" (11 minutes), "Russell Crowe's Personal Journey: Becoming Jim Braddock" (28 minutes); "Pre-Fight Preparations" (25minutes); "Lights, Camera, Action: The Fight From Every Angle" (21 minutes); "The Sound Of The Bell" (six minutes); "Cinderella Man Music" (two minutes), and "The Human Face Of Depression" (six minutes). There is also 32 minutes of footage from the authentic 1935 Braddock vs. Baer Fight and a photo montage.

Sharpness, depth, and definition on this high-definition 2.35:1 HD DVD are very nicely rendered throughout the presentation. The picture exhibits an understated, bland color palette, with lots of browns and grays, and dim lighting; a look that seems to be perfectly complementary for the Depression-era storytelling. Colors appear desaturated, with blacks having a gray and milky quality. Viewing in a completely blackened room is recommended, especially for the darkest scenes. The picture can be extremely sharp and nicely textured, while some scenes appear soft or somewhat smeared. Contrast can also seem a bit low at times. As Braddock comes into wealth and fame, a little bit more color is introduced into the palette: fleshtones don't appear so gray, and warm reds enliven the costume design. The picture is quite solid, with virtually no sign of any VC-1 compression problems. There is no obtrusive edge enhancement. Overall, the picture is artistically rendered, dark, and a nice delivery for the story. (Suzanne Hodges)

Like the original DVD mix, the Dolby® Digital•Plus 5.1-channel encoding begins with subterranean bass filling the room by way of each of the available channels, which continues on when needed throughout the presentation. Music is mixed very well (and even original music from the era is cleaned up nicely), with a well-defined front stage and some depth into the surrounds. The LFE channel is used very well throughout the presentation, both for music and effects, and really adds to the overall experience. Dialogue sounds good, although the quality of recording is not quite up to par with some of the other titles that have been released on HD DVD thus far. Surround activity is typically held to relatively low-level atmospheric effects, even in scenes where their use could bring a lot to the table. In all, however, this is a good soundtrack that works well with the story. (Danny Richelieu)