Million Dollar Baby

Featured In Issue 109, June 2006

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Violence, Some Disturbing Images, Thematic Material And Language.
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Single Side, Dual Layer (HD-30)
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Clint Eastwood
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Dolby Digital+ 5.1
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Some people would say the most important thing a fighter can have is heart. Frankie'd say, "Show me a fighter who's nothing but heart, and I'll show you a man waiting for a beating." Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) is too busy training boxers to take much notice in Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank), a woman who dreams big of becoming a professional boxer. With her vivacious personality and heart of gold, Maggie finally wins over Frankie and gym owner, Scrap (Freeman). The three form a close friendship, but when things take a tragic turn, there's no training in the world that could prepare them for what would happen. Million Dollar Baby, winner of four Academy Awards® including Best Picture, is based upon stories written by F. X. Toole. (Suzanne Hodges)

Special features include a behind-the-scenes look told in three parts—James Lipton Takes On Three, Born To Fight, and Producers Round—taking about 57 minutes, and the theatrical trailer.

This new HD DVD picture looks absolutely fantastic. Stylizations in the color scheme give the picture a look that's complementary to the period of the storytelling. Much of the picture has a desaturated appearance and is often awash in cool grayish greens with soft milky blacks. In the darkest scenes, details are perfectly delineated (with even more fine detail over the DVD). The Tom Stern cinematography captures striking shots, some of which are highly contrasted or in silhouette, and heighten the emotion during pivotal moments throughout the film. Shadow delineation is nicely rendered, offering satisfying visual information in the darker scenes. The picture has an intentionally "unpolished" style, but details are delivered with smooth, clean, and perfectly textured imagery. The picture is so solid, there are virtually no signs of compression problems. (Suzanne Hodges)

Like the other two Warner titles released at launch, the Dolby® Digital•Plus 5.1-channel soundtrack measures at 14 dB lower overall level than that of the standard-definition DVD's Dolby Digital track. For more information on this, read the review of The Last Samurai. Narration is presented using each of the front three screen channels, and the raspiness in Morgan Freeman's voice is articulated nicely. The entire mix seems to be exactly the same as that of the original DVD's track. Atmospheric effects are mixed around the room, but they are generally at much lower levels than the dialogue, which can easily mask the effects. Inside the ring, however, things change slightly, with the entire soundfield opening up to delivering individual crowd cheers and jeers around the room. This effect, however, still does not match the realism of the best-mixed soundtracks. Dialogue sounds natural for the most part, however ADR integration can be noticeably off at times. Center surround imaging is very limited, which takes away from the naturalness of the soundtrack. Fidelity is understandably good, which is heightened by the increased resolution of the Dolby Digital•Plus format. There is not much in the way of deep bass in the soundtrack, and as such, the LFE channel is not used often. The original DVD featured good articulation and well-recorded effects, and this Dolby Digital•Plus encoding is no different. Note: I took half a point off the sound rating due to the very low encoding level of the audio. (Danny Richelieu)