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Category:    Home > Reviews > Sports > Drama > Friday Night Lights (2004/HD-DVD)

Friday Night Lights (2004/HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Film: C-



Peter 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.


Can he 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.


The 1080p 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.


Furthermore, 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


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