Enjoyable and uplifting film with a few short but sweet extras on the DVD.
It's a sports film, so expect the expected because it follows the formula line by line.
The latest form of football on film comes in the form of Gridiron Gang. The film depicts a true story of a bunch of juvenile criminals who get their act together, play as a team, and start a new path on life. I myself am not a terribly huge fan of sports films mostly because they are all the same. That can pretty much be said for Gridiron Gang, it's a formula we've all seen and experienced before. The movie is not really breaking any new ground, but it is indeed an inspirational film. You can pretty much guess the movie from the trailer and how it plays out. A bunch of rebel kids end up in a juvenile prison where their supervisor decides that the kids need an activity to fill the void of gang violence. So, we see all the stages of these kids slowly learning to grow strong and be better human beings. The film is based off of a documentary that was then turned into a script, and director Phil Jaonou decided to go with a very documentary style of shooting the film. That and there is sort of why the film falls flat. Why shoot the film like a documentary if your basing it off an actual documentary? I don't understand that reasoning at all.
There is a word that we use in the film industry and that is called adaptation. Whether we are translating a piece of literature, a television series or a real-life event it all comes to adapting it for film. Documentary is a style of filmmaking, so why would they want to just mirror the events and use actors instead? I think films like this could be so much better if they took some creative freedom and tried to tell a story like a film should. They need to back the cameras away, let us see what the cinematographer can do with a frame. Throw in some stylish football action sequences and then counter it with the emotional story of the troubled youth.
The acting in the film is nothing to get excited over. I mean it stars a former wrestler and a rapper for goodness sake. Don't get me wrong, I think Dwayne Johnson has lots of potential as an actor, I thought he was perfect in The Rundown. I honestly think if The Rock takes some better roles he can really establish himself in the film community.
We have a selection of deleted scenes that by the looks of it were cut due to time. The film runs for 2 hours and 5 minutes already, which is pretty long considering most sports dramas. So, while we do see some character development in these scenes they mostly detract from the central storyline and were cut.
Commentary With Writer & Director:
The commentary track here is more or less praise for the story itself. I didn't get that much from info from what I listened to and it really isn't worth the time for film buffs
Gridiron Gang Football Training:
A featurette on the training for the football sequences, pretty standard for these kind of movies, right?
Phil Joanou Profile:
Not really a profile on the director but more or less him talking about his approach on the movie. Short but nice to have on the DVD.
The Rock Takes The Field:
A featurette on The Rock and him appraoching the role in the film.
Multi-Angle Football Scene:
A nifty little featurette showing the way the filmmakers set up to film one of the football scenes.
I was sent the fullscreen edition to review, but there is indeed a widescreen release as well as a Blu-ray release for all you PS3 and Blu-ray player owners. In all honestly the picture was pretty sharp, no real flaws. I did notice some grain issues near the beginning of the film, but they went away later. It was during the night scenes and looked almost like digital artifacts, but the movie wasn't shot digital so maybe it was a compression issue or possibly since I do have the 4:3 version the picture was just blown up. Overall decent picture quality from Sony.
The 5.1 mix is pretty good. Good use of the rear channels during the football games. Trevor Rabin's uplifting score gets a good boost too in all the right places. Sound overall is pretty good.
The DVD comes in a standard single disc case with an insert. There is also a cardboard slipcase for both the standard and widescreen versions.
A good and enjoyable film. It is definitely worth a rent and I'd even reccomend it to buy for sports junkies. The acting and overall approach to the film could have used work to make it a much fresher experience.
Gridiron Gang was released September 15, 2006.