Friday Night Lights (2004/HD-DVD)
B Sound: B- Extras: C Film: C-
Berg, who has become Universal’s resident hack with this and The Rundown (HD-DVD reviewed elsewhere
on this site) is much better as an actor and with Universal one of the better
studios these days, a film like Friday
Night Lights is a lame, inexcusable sports film that claims to be about
football and is really about sloppy editing.
Billy Bob Thornton, a great actor, is once again wasted in a commercial
venture more interested in his connection to being a co-star in Michael Bay’s Armageddon than anything remotely connected to his great acting.
coach a small Texas team to victory that does not
stand a chance without him as coach?
Geez, who can figure this one out?
Berg tries to have the film be flashy and down-to-earth at the same time
and it does not work. Everyone wants to
see the underdog win, but you are not able to see enough of anything with the
wacky editing and substandard direction.
Even Berg has done a better job.
For Friday Night Lights, it
is unfortunately “lights out” from the start and is best skipped.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image never has a shot that lasts for more
than a few seconds and is extremely unexciting.
While Disney has been doing some of the best narrative sports films of
late (Miracle, Glory Road), this is even lamer than Remember The Titans could ever hope to be because even that could
hold its camera shots beyond five seconds.
Cinematographer Tobias Schliessler thinks he is making the sports
sequences look like the constant taking of still photos ala a boxing movie and
at the same time the film makes this phony appeal to “memories” as if the game
was instant nostalgia and we should get up like a bunch of idiots and cheer for
whatever high school we went to or a relative is going too. Unfortunately, the camerawork’s mentality is
not even worthy of grade-school dropouts.
the color is slightly drained and not to make it look like aging photographs,
but to look like bad digital that thinks it is “real” and “slick” when it is
flat-out obnoxious. Oddly, the disc only
comes with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and has one of the most erratic sound mixes
we have heard for such a film. Surrounds
are more limited than they should be, as if it were trying to portray football
games of decades ago. Music is also
choppy and if you wonder why all the channels are not consistent, it is the
disc, not your system. No wonder DTS was
skipped. Extras include six featurettes,
deleted scenes and an audio commentary by Berg and H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, who
wrote the book the film is loosely based on.
Now, with enough theatrical and home video success, the film is being
launched as a TV series. They couldn’t
do much worse.
- Nicholas Sheffo