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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - June, 2010

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"Invictus" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

movie-june-2010-invictus

Synopsis

After being elected President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) finds himself in a very difficult position. His nation is fragmented down the middle, with the white Afrikaaners representing the old regime on one side, and the South African natives on the other. Looking for anything that can help ease the growing racial tensions and unite the citizens of South Africa, Nelson turns to the Springboks, South Africa’s struggling rugby team who have been given a birth at the 1995 Rugby World Cup as the host nation. Mandela meets with Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the captain of the Springboks, and explains his wish for the team win the World Cup. Long seen as a symbol of the Apartheid regime and way of life, the Springboks success at the tournament proves to be a galvanizing point in South Africa’s history.

 

Specifications

  • Warner Brothers
  • 2009, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 hrs 13 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: VC1
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon
  • Directed by Clint Eastwood
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: None
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Invictus is far more than another sports success story; it is a study in politics, leadership, and racial relations. Nelson Mandela took a big gamble by showing such interest in a historically “white” sport, but the gamble ultimately paid huge dividends. Morgan Freeman did a fantastic job portraying Nelson Mandela, and I thought his dialogue on leadership and inspiration was well-crafted. Matt Damon delivered a solid performance as the Springbok’s captain, though I found myself detached from his character. This is one of my big complaints with the film: I just never really felt that attached to the players. The only scene that I found emotionally powerful was the first training camp that the team runs for local black children. This one scene explains Mandela’s motivations better than anything in the rest of the film and is the one moment that truly follows the old adage, “Show me, don’t tell me.” My other gripe with this movie is that certain scenes are dragged out far longer than they should be. The World Cup finale between the Springboks and New Zealand’s All-Blacks was about twice as long as it should have been. This was a movie that could have been great, but its faults bring the overall emotional impact down a notch.

Technical

Video quality on this disc was a bit disappointing for me. The film was shot mostly outdoors, which puts an over-exposed sort of haze on many scenes. This made the image look a bit soft, but it may have been the filmmakers’ intention. Film grain was fairly strong as well. Indoor scenes looked far better to my eyes, with excellent color and contrast. Detail and clarity was also much better on the indoor scenes. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack does its job well. Dialogue is always clear and intelligible, befitting the storyline. During the rugby scenes, the soundtrack kicks it up a notch, with much more use of the surround channels. There is a good “thump” when the ball is kicked or when the players tackle each other during the rugby scenes.

Extras

Included on this disc is a very in-depth picture-in-picture commentary/making-of, a featurette on Morgan Freeman meeting Nelson Mandela (they really do look a lot alike), a featurette on training Matt Damon for rugby, and a preview for a full documentary on the filmmaking career of Clint Eastwood. A second disc contains a DVD version and Digital Copy of the film.