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Secretariat Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Descriptive Video Service 2.0, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Rating: PG
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 25th, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

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BestBuy.com:
Secretariat - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle AC3

Purchase Secretariat on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3/5]

When it comes to sports films, it takes a special breed (no pun intended) to transcend its genre and reach beyond just those who are fans to tell an inspirational story. Secretariat, the story of the last horse to win horse racing’s Triple Crown, ending in a record breaking win by 31-lengths at the Belmont Stakes tries its hardest to just that – be inspirational. The film, really more a biopic about owner Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) than it is a film about the horse, is in one sense inspirational in the story it tells of Chenery’s struggle against the old boy’s club that is horse racing on the East Coast and her eventual triumph, but its overwrought dialogue and cliché burdened script make it no more than a saccharine throwaway filled with one-dimensional characters and feel good emotions.

The story goes that Penny finds herself facing financial woes when her mother dies and her father’s senility overtakes him. Rather than sell the family’s horse ranch, Penny buckle’s down, putting all her faith in a yet-unborn foal she is certain has the lineage to be a winner. Even as things asstarttrt to an out, Penny must make sacrifices and face some hardships to see her dream of seeing “Big Red” Secretariat run and win.

The film is filled with too many sugary sweet moments and “I saw that coming” obstacles and even the racing scenes are downplayed to the point that they lack excitement. If you’d like to really get your adrenalin going, then look for the original footage of Secretariat winning the Belmont.

It’s not all bad, however. John Malkovich does put on an oddly out of place yet solid performance as the trainer Lucien Laurin and the overall theme of the film should be inspirational to women and young girls.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Secretariat has all the marks of a transfer of film of recent vintage. It is clean, sharp, has strong contrast and stable color reproduction. There is thin layer of grain that imparts a film-like look and only ever-so-often does the picture look slightly soft, but otherwise this is a strong, reference release.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack for Secretariat is an excellent one. It is superbly balanced between a quiet, dialogue-driven mix and a more aggressive, engulfing one. The racing scenes in particular will get you on the edge of your seat with their pounding gallops that surround you. Dialogue is clean, highs are easy on the ears, and low frequencies are extended pretty far down in the range.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

Secretariat arrives on Blu-ray with a strong set of supplements that feature all video extras in high definition and an interview with the real Penny Chenery.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Heart of a Champion (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:14.56) – A look at one of the most famous thoroughbred horses ever known, through the eyes of filmmakers, actors, and some of the key people who were a part of the history-making races.
  • Choreographing the Races (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:06.27) – See all that it takes to recreate the races featured in Secretariat, and how the filmmakers use technology and innovation to male you feel like you are right in the middle of the action.
  • A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation with the Real Penny Chenery (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 0:21.12)
  • Audio Commentary w/ director Randall Wallace
  • Deleted Scenes w/ optional audio commentary by director Randall Wallace (1080p/24)
  • Music Video – AJ Michalka “It’s Who You Are” (1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Secretariat Multi-Angle Simulation (1080i/60) – Relive Secretariat’s triumphant 1973 Preakness race by viewing it from different perspectives and hearing commentary from fans, announcers, and a modern-day jockey.
  • DVD – Standard definition DVD.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Seabiscuit it isn’t, but Secretariat has an underlying theme of gender equality that is its saving grace from the otherwise dull script and ho-hum performances outside of John Malkovich. With that being said, the Blu-ray release is top notch Disney quality that will offer up reference quality home theatre entertainment.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right”]B004DK5CYM[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Secretariat - Widescreen Dubbed Subtitle AC3

Purchase Secretariat on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:3/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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