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As the actress who went to The Razzie’s to pick up her award for Worst Actress, on the evening before she got to take home The Oscar for Best Actress, I have to give Sandra Bullock all the credit in the world. Bullock obviously has a great sense of humor about her profession and probably doesn’t take herself too seriously in that regard, especially when one considers the irony of her winning those two consecutive acting honors in such a short period of time. This brings us to THE BLIND SIDE ($36), the film for which Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress. Right up front, let me say that in THE BLIND SIDE, Bullock definitely delivers the best performance of her career, which stretches far beyond the lightweight roles that have encompassed much of her career. Since THE BLIND SIDE is based upon a true story, the film calls upon Bullock to inhabit the skin of a real person, which results in delivering the deepest, most nuanced portrayal of her career. Others have debated whether Bullock’s performance is truly Oscar worthy, since they view THE BLIND SIDE as little more than a sentimental/inspirational sports movie. Personally, I enjoyed THE BLIND SIDE and feel that Bullock’s performance constitutes a large percentage of why I enjoyed the movie. And in my book, Bullock’s contribution to THE BLIND SIDE makes her performance more than worthy.

Based upon the 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution Of A Game by Michael Lewis, THE BLIND SIDE introduces us to seventeen-year-old Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron), who has spent the better part of his life in foster care, and running away from the foster homes, in which he has been placed. Because of his size, natural athletic ability and the efforts of the school’s football coach, Michael finds himself enrolled at a private Christian School. Of course, due to his impoverished upbringing lack of a stable home life, Michael’s academic abilities are limited. However, the majority of the teachers do their best to accommodate his special needs, with the teachers discovering that Michael is retaining a good portion of what is being taught. Still, Michael’s living situation remains unstable, and on an evening where he has no place to sleep, he is spotted by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock), who offers him a place to spend the night.

Leigh Anne then extends the invitation for Michael to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with the Tuohy family, which also includes her husband Sean (Tim McGraw) and children SJ (Jae Head) and Collins (Lily Collins). Over the course of time Michael becomes part of the Tuohy family, and as such, Leigh Anne recognizes that Michael’s size and athletic prowess could earn him a college scholarship, which could ensure his future. However, Michael’s academic performance remains an obstacle to that goal, so Leigh Anne and Sean hire Miss Sue (Kathy Bates), a private tutor, to help raise their newly "adopted" son’s grades. From the plot synopsis, it should rather evident that THE BLIND SIDE is another in a long series of inspiring "feel good" movies. Of course, what separates THE BLIND SIDE from so many other films of similar ilk, is Bullock’s firecracker performance, as well as the impressive work of newcomer Quinton Aaron, not to mention Kathy Bates, who is always a hoot to watch. The cast of THE BLIND SIDE also includes Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens, Adriane Lenox, IronE Singleton and Catherine Dyer.

Warner Home Video has made THE BLIND SIDE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. THE BLIND SIDE sports a highly pleasing 1080p presentation that almost never fumbles the ball. Other than a few odd shots, image sharpness and dimensionality are pretty terrific, as are the levels of fine detail and texturing. Colors are sultry and well saturated, while the flesh tones appear quite attractive. Blacks appear deep and inky, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast is very smooth, but shadow detail, while good, isn’t always exemplary. The elements from which THE BLIND SIDE has been transferred appear virtually pristine. There is a modest level of grain that gives the presentation a nice organic quality.

THE BLIND SIDE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Since THE BLIND SIDE is primarily a talky drama, the sound design is competent, but isn't particularly aggressive. Heck, even the football game sequences seem a little restrained. As expected, the material is front heavy, with some engagement of the outlying channels for occasional effects, ambience and musical fill. However, the lossless encode does bolster the film’s musical component, with Carter Burwell’s score demonstrating excellent clarity and presence. The bass channel does nicely augment some key moments, but is limited by the talky nature of the majority of the material. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue is totally understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Featurettes and other programs include: The Real Michael Oher (ten minutes), Sideline Conversations (thirty three minutes), The Story Of Big Quinton (fourteen minutes) and Acting Coaches: Behind The Blind Side (five minutes). Deleted Scenes close out the standard extras. A DVD and Digital Copy of the film are also provided, with both being housed on the second disc of this set.

THE BLIND SIDE is an inspirational, yet enjoyable sports movie, made even more so by the presence of Sandra Bullock and her Oscar winning portrayal. As for the Blu-ray release, it delivers a pretty terrific picture and solid sound. Recommended.



The Blind Side (Limited-Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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