The praise for Million Dollar Baby might have waned over the years and upon its release got its fair share of spoofs, but 8 years later I still loved just about every minute of it even if it’s as depressing as all hell.
Genre(s): Drama, Sports
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 132 min. – $19.98 | February 4, 2014
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): F.X. Toole (stories from “Rope Burns”); Paul Haggis (screenplay)
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman, Jay Baruchel
Theatrical Release Date: December 15, 2004 (limited); January 28, 2005 (wide)
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Theatrical Trailer
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 24.1 GB
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.5/5
Plot Outline: Frankie Dunn (CLINT EASTWOOD) is a cranky old boxing gym owner and has trained numerous fighters over the years. After a bout, he’s contacted by Maggie Fitzgerald (HILARY SWANK), a spunky girl raised by a white trash family. She wants Frankie to train her but he barks, as only Eastwood can, that he doesn’t train girls. But Maggie persistent showing up at his gym until finally Frankie relents and begins training her and discovers she has what it takes to become a fighter and signs her up, reluctantly, for bouts in the female boxing championship.
Quick Hit Review: Million Dollar Baby succeeds between Paul Haggis’ Academy Award-nominated screenplay, the characters and the amazing performances from Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman. It’s a harrowing movie from beginning to finish and not exactly one you’d want to revisit all that often despite the film’s bright spots.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
All the features from the original release(s) have been ported over and also include a couple new items.
Audio Commentary – Producer Albert Ruddy sits down for this new track and recounts many of the same stories seen in the featurettes but he does keep the momentum going, it’s a shame though he couldn’t be joined by Paul Haggis or maybe Hilary Swank.
Million Dollar Baby: On the Ropes (26:04; HD) is a new retrospective featurette with interviews by the cast (Hilary Swank, Morgan Freeman) and crew (Director/Producer Clint Eastwood, Writer/Producer Paul Haggis, Producers Albert Ruddy, and Tom Rosenberg). I believe some of the interviews were culled together from older footage mixed with new.
James Lipton Takes on Three (24:45; SD) – Lipton, in an informal setting, interviews Eastwood, Swank and Freeman about MDB following their Oscar wins.
Born to Fight (19:13; SD) looks at the boxing elements and the meaning it has in the movie.
The Producers: Round 15 (13:05; SD) finds Albert S. Ruddy, Paul Haggis and Tom Rosenberg discussing the movie.
Theatrical Trailer (2:28; HD)
VIDEO – 3.0/5
Well, unfortunately the latest release, third if you don’t count the two Clint Eastwood collections, seems to have the same old 1080p high-definition transfer (VC-1 codec), shown in 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, that was mastered years ago. And frankly, this isn’t the best looking transfer where blacks are pushed to the extreme, detail levels are at best adequate and there were some signs of pixilation in many scenes. For a movie that garnered 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture, it’s a shame Warner has chosen not to give it proper treatment.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
On the plus side, the disc does include a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which, no pun intended, does pack a decent punch. Dialogue levels are crisp and clear through the center channel while the front and rear channels are relegated for ambient noises, such as the chants during the fight scenes, and Eastwood’s haunting, yet subdued, score comes through nicely.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, the praise for Million Dollar Baby might have waned over the years and upon its release got its fair share of spoofs, but 8 years later I still loved just about every minute of it even if it’s as depressing as all hell. As for the latest Blu-ray released by Warner, the audio might’ve been an upgrade but the VC-1 codec is old and the transfer itself was subpar. At least this release does contain a new commentary and a 25-minute retrospective featurette with the major players involved.