In the aftermath of the Rodney King riots, Wilson High School in Long Beach, California was filled with racial tension and gang violence. Freshman English teacher Erin Gruwell (Swank) wasn't prepared for the angry and mixed group of students that entered her classroom, but she was determined she would get through to them one way or another. After giving each teen a journal to write their daily thoughts and feelings, the young Freedom Writers discovered, through the magic of words, that there was a whole new world out there for them. Based on the book The Freedom Writers Diary by The Freedom Writers with Erin Gruwell. (Tricia Spears)
The special features are the same as on the DVD reviewed in Issue 121, except there is no photo gallery, and include commentary with Director Richard LaGravenese and Actor Hilary Swank, 11 minutes of deleted scenes, the five-minute Making A Dream featurette, the 19-minute Freedom Writers Family featurette, the high-definition theatrical trailer, the 10-minute Freedom Writers: The Story Behind The Story featurette, previews, and up-front ads.
The H.645 AVC-encoded HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases look identical. Black levels are relatively deep, but whites in daytime scenes seem to be a little too bright, which can wash out the colors. Still, depth of field is impressive in night and indoor scenes, with well-balanced contrast and good shadow delineation. Fine details are not as well resolved as in the best releases, but the image is enjoyable. (Danny Richelieu)
The HD DVD's Dolby Digital Plus 5.1-channel encoding sounds almost identical to the DVD's Dolby Digital encoding, with decent fidelity and a basic mix. Voices can sound slightly forward at times, but it does not become much of a distraction. (Danny Richelieu)