"Major League" Blu-ray Review

May 14, 2009 by Zach Demeter

I’ll admit that I had never seen Major League from start to finish until I got this DVD. It’s something I’d been wanting to do for years, but knowing that a new DVD edition had to be coming down the pipe eventually, I waited—and it was worth it, in some ways.

Synopsis
She’s beautiful, smart, goal-oriented, and she just inherited the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, she wants to move the franchise to Miami, and a losing season is her only ticket to Florida. So she signs the wildest gang of screwballs that ever spit tobacco. They’re handsome, but they’re hopeless! Her catcher (Tom Berenger) is a washed-up womanizer who struck out in life. Her ace pitcher (Charlie Sheen) is a punked-out crazy who struck out with the law. And her third baseman (L.A. Law’s Corbin Bernsen) is more concerned fielding endorsements than grounders. Throw in a busload of other misfits and you’ve got yourself a hilarious line-up that’s destined for disaster! Or is it?

Major League isn’t as hilariously funny as I had been expecting it to be after hearing how much people loved it, but the film is really more plot driven than most comedies—and it certainly had more substance to it than I had expected. It’s odd to talk about a comedy that way, but between the handful of cursing and what little slapstick comedy there is, the film manages to create a meaningful relationship between the characters and keep the viewer interested in what happens off the field.

But hey, it’s Major League. This movie has been loved by many since its initial release and watching it now, for what essentially amounts to the first time for me, is quite interesting. The main reason for this is because of how many actors they had in this film prior to their big Hollywood days. Wesley Snipes (“Blade”), Dennis Haysbert (“24”) and even a small part for Neil Flynn (“Scrubs”) where he just drops the F-bomb a couple times, but nonetheless it’s quite entertaining.

It seems silly to talk about Major League in any type of critical way considering how long it’s been out. Unless you’re like me and have never seen it all the way through (I doubt very much that many of you are like me), you know the plot and you know just how bad ass the finale is with “Wild Thing” blaring through the speakers. Major League is both a comedic and baseball film classic and should be added to your movie collection.

The Blu-ray
Of course Major League should be added to your collection! That’s a no brainer. However, this isn’t the first time this film has been released on the home video format and, in fact, this Blu-ray release is a repeat of the “Wild Thing” edition from 2007 with that astrotruf slipcover. Interior disc art is extremely plain (grey!) and no insert is given aside from the usual notice about how high-tech Blu-ray’s are. Menus are quick and easy to navigate.

On the transfer side, the audio and video aren’t super strong, but get the job done. I’m surprised, looking back on my DVD review, how the Blu-ray transfer ends up receiving almost the same scores from me—this just isn’t a film that screams HD and nothing about it really made me glad I was watching it in high definition. Video is a bit shaky in the beginning with some color flickering over the intro, but seems to get better as the film goes on. It’s not a pristine transfer, with some scenes looking a bit soft, but overall it’s satisfactory. Obviously it looks cleaner than the DVD release, what with the 1080p AVC encoded transfer doing a fair job in bringing a twenty year old movie to the format. I would have liked a bit more power from the TrueHD 5.1 track, which is quite dull in rear channels (would’ve liked to hear some balls whizzing through or a bit more oomph in the “Wild Thing” finale), but again, it gets the job done. Everything’s clean and clear and at the end of the day, that’s all you need. Once again, that’s the same feelings I had about the original release—just barely adequate and nothing special about it at all.

With the special features we get a comfortable mix of what you expect from a special edition release. The commentary track is lively and full of great insight from the director and producer and really lets you in on their thoughts on where they shot, how the actors were on set and what they would like to have changed if they could reshoot it. It’s a nice track that goes by fast (just like the film) and rarely lags, so it’s easy to listen to and not dull in the least.

Three featurettes are found on this set, one chronicling the making of the film and featuring new interviews with Sheen, Berenger, Haysbert, Bernsen and Ross chime in with their thoughts from the acting standpoint, while David S. Ward and Chris Chesser speak their mind on the film and where the plot came from. This featurette is quick, but for a comedy packs enough information into it and leaves you feeling with a satisfactory behind-the-scenes look in the end.

The other featurette, “A Major League Look at Major League” features interviews with MLB talent speaking about their enjoyment of the film and what the film means to them. This is a cool featurette to watch, as you can see the film really inspired some of the guys on here to become ball players and how some even watch the film as a pre-game ritual.

A final featurette is on Bob Uecker and his inspiration for the character and other stars and MLB talent speaking about their thoughts on the character. Combined with the other two featurettes, these three make for a cool look behind the scenes of the film.

An alternate ending is also given, with the Rachel Phelps character actually being a mastermind behind the new rag-tag Indians team which she had planned to do good in the end after all. This ending, while neat to see, is definitely unneeded in the grand scheme of things in the film, as she’s set up as a character to hate and having to not hate her in the end kind of kills the mood a bit. It’s more satisfactory to see Willy Mayes Hayes slide into home knowing that Phelps will be pissed off than it is to see her celebrating.

A few other special features round out the set, including a tour of Cerrano’s Locker, which looks oddly recent with its video quality, but I assume it was shot during the filming of Major League—not sure. A behind the scenes photo gallery is also included.

Overall the film is a lot of fun to watch and this release is a definite improvement over the original barebones release from years ago, but if you already own the 2007 DVD release then you won’t have much a reason to upgrade to this one. Those who don’t already own it, however, will find this one Recommended--it may not blow you away with the clarity and quality, but it’s enough of a bump up from the DVD version to pick this one up over it.

Major League – Wild Thing Edition is now available on Blu-ray.

 

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