DVD Review: Cinderella Man (Widescreen Edition)
Release Date: December 6, 2005
· Ron Howard
· Russell Crowe
· Renee Zellweger
· Paul Giamatti
by Jim Pappas
Published: December 5, 2005
The true story of a portion of the life of boxer James Braddock, “Cinderella Man” covers the years before and during the Great Depression, and how his rise from poverty to heavyweight champion served as an inspiration for a nation at the darkest time in our history. Universal is releasing the DVD version of the film on December 6th, and it serves as a reminder of what we consider a simpler time, although there are certain parallels between then and now.
The extra features on the DVD include a number of deleted scenes, and it was interesting to imagine them in sequence with the rest of the film. These extra scenes are fully realized moments that could have been included in the final cut without diminishing the story, but I can see why they were not really necessary to help the film’s story, and deleting them probably keeps the movie from having a bloated feel to it.
There is a whole disc worth of other extra features that take you behind the scenes, and into the production of the film with the kind of close-eyed examination that is rare in most DVD’s. But the real highlight of the DVD extra features is a presentation of the actual Baer-Braddock championship fight, all 15 rounds. This is something special, as it gives one a chance to compare boxing then and now, and it also serves as a showcase for the real Jim Braddock, since it is obvious from the footage that he was a polished and professional fighter whose fight plan against Baer was brilliant in conception and execution. He never lets Baer off the hook, and never gives Baer a chance to land any real hard punches. Being able to watch this fight is worth the price of the DVD all by itself.
I think director Ron Howard is someone who knows his craft and understands his own vision more fully than most directors, and when you look at his resume you realize that he is truly one of the best in the business. “Cinderella Man” should garner him a nomination for an Academy Award as best director and the film should be one of the finalists for best picture of 2005. Whether or not that happens is moot as far as I’m concerned, as I consider the movie easily one of the best of this past year and what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences thinks of it doesn’t really concern me. Ron Howard has made the kind of movie with “Cinderella Man” that there are simply not enough of, an inspirational and touching tribute to the spirit of a man, and the spirit of Man.
I reviewed the theatrical release of the film, and gave it an A at the time. I still feel the same way after watching the DVD. One thing to note, something I failed to mention in the earlier review, was the film’s score by composer Thomas Newman. It is deserving of an Academy nomination, for sure, along with the film’s editing by Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, who did an absolutely magnificent job. Seeing editing like in “Cinderella Man” makes you realize just how awful some film editing is these days.
Everything about “Cinderella Man” is of the highest quality, including and especially the screenplay by Cliff Hollingsworth and Akiva Goldsman, from Hollingsworth’s story. This is first rate writing, and I suspect some nominations might be headed in that direction as well, although, again, I suspect the Academy is probably tired of inspirational boxing films, especially after “Million Dollar Baby,” which is not as good a film, won the Best Picture Oscar last year. It will be truly a shame if the Academy snubs “Cinderella Man,” but I will be surprised if it gets the nominations it deserves.
“Cinderella Man” is the kind of movie everyone of every age should see, and is also the kind of feature film Hollywood should always be proud to produce. I sincerely hope that none of us ever becomes too jaded to appreciate a movie like this, as to do so would mean we’ve lost something precious and dear in our souls.