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12 Mighty Orphans (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall:

SUMMARY

American Football coach Rusty Russell (portrayed by Luke Wilson), largely credited with inventing the “spread offense” takes a team of orphans from Fort Worth, Texas and turns them into a national inspiration during the Great Depression in this inspirational if somewhat play it by the book sports biopic from Sony Pictures Classics.

12 Mighty Orphans is a sports movie based on true events. It is a biopic of sorts about the legendary American Football coach Rusty Russell (portrayed by Luke Wilson), largely credited with inventing the “spread offense” and his ragtag high school team of scrawny, underdog, and often mistreated and mistrusted, orphans from Fort Worth, Texas who become a national sensation during the Great Depression. Russell, an orphan himself, and his wife Juanita (Vinessa Shaw) move into the Masonic orphanage to teach find there an abusive and corrupt system with a ray of hope in the doctor, Doc Hall (Martin Sheen), who works there and cares for the children taking no salary, and the group of underfed scrawny teen boys who have a hunger to play football but only need someone like Russell to instill some belief in them and the power of belief in themselves.

Director Ty Roberts (The Iron Orchard) instills the film with an appropriately old-timey atmosphere and instills a sense of realism to some of the bone-crunching tackles during the gameplay scenes. While the actors do their best with the screenplay, the story remains mostly surface level, not delving too far into the character of Russell or the individual boys. Some flashbacks of Russell in battle during World War I are interspersed with the story now and then to give us a sense of his motivations and history as well as a few of the stories of how the kids ended up in the orphanage, like a confrontation between one boy and his clearly drunken mother and new husband appearing suddenly after leaving him there ten years earlier.

Basically, 12 Mighty Orphans keeps things sentimental, inspirational, and heartfelt, and Ty Roberts succeeds on that front. Despite some minor issues with this film, you’ll find yourself drawn into the story of these kids and their battle against the odds.

The Video

12 Mighty Orphans was shot on the Arri Alexa Mini with Cooke Xtal Express, Cineovision and Optica Elite lenses in CFast 2.0 ARRIRAW at 3.4K. Although it is a digital production with a DI in the process as well, there’s a very filmic, almost natural “grain” layered over the image, whether it is added in post or an occurrence in-camera through careful settings of the Arri, it works in tandem with the somewhat desaturated color timing to give this film an organic look and feel. The textures, detail, and front-to-back extension all come through wonderfully and there are strong shadow details even if at times some areas can look a bit washed out.

The Audio

12 Mighty Orphans comes to Blu-ray with a lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that is balanced and has good dynamic range. The mix is subtle and front-heavy much of the time, but opens it opens wide up, when need be, during the scenes of the football matches placing crowd noise and tackles among other effects throughout the soundstage. I wouldn’t call the low-end resounding, but there’s more than enough low range to give hits and tackles good thud.

The Supplements

This rather barebones release from Sony Pictures Classics only comes with these 14 minutes of deleted scenes in HD.

  • Deleted Scenes (1080p; 00:14:09)

The Final Assessment

An inspiring story that plays it by the book, but is still a good watch and looks good on disc. Fans of sports films are sure to enjoy this one.

12 Mighty Orphans is out on Blu-ray August 31, 2021 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for violence, language, some suggestive references, smoking and brief teen drinking)
  • Studios & Distributors: Santa Rita Film Co. | Greenbelt Films | Michael De Luca Productions | 12 Productions | Carte Blanche (in association with) | Sprockefeller Pictures (in association with)
  • Director: Ty Roberts
  • Written By: Jim Dent (novel) | Lane Garrison (screenplay) | Kevin Meyer (screenplay) Ty Roberts (screenplay)
  • Run Time: 118 Mins.
  • Street Date: 31 August 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: French DTS-HD MA 5.1 | Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1 | Russian DD 5.1 VO
  • Subtitles: English | English SDH | Arabic | Chinese Simplified | Chinese Traditional | Czech | Danish | Dutch | Estonian | Finnish | French | German | Greek | Hungarian | Italian | Korean | Latvian | Lithuanian | Norwegian | Polish | Portuguese | Romanian | Russian | Slovak | Spanish (Castilian) | Spanish (Latin American) | Swedish | Thai | Turkish
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American Football coach Rusty Russell (portrayed by Luke Wilson), largely credited with inventing the “spread offense” takes a team of orphans from Fort Worth, Texas and turns them into a national inspiration during the Great Depression in this inspirational if somewhat play it by the book sports biopic from Sony Pictures Classics.12 Mighty Orphans (Blu-ray Review)