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  Directed by
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  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Featurette

The Legend of Bagger Vance

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 121 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Set in Savannah, Georgia in 1929, The Legend of Bagger Vance is told flashback style, and is the story of promising young golfer, Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon), and his attempt to find his swing, thereby getting his whole life back on track.

After abandoning his career and signing up to fight in World War I, Junuh returns home, and traumatised by the war, he shuns his game, his girl, and just about everything else and attempts to live a life of solitude and self-imposed misery. His girl, Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron), inherits her father's newly built country club after he shoots himself, a consequence of losing almost everything in the Great Depression. Attempting to stave off the circling sharks (greedy bankers), she announces a $10,000 golf tournament will be staged on the new golf course, featuring the biggest golfing names of the day, Walter Hagan (Bruce McGill) and Bobby Jones (Joel Gretsch). The bankers agree, on the condition that a brilliant local is included in the game, and at the tournament's announcement it is the young Hardy Greaves (J. Michael Moncrief) who pipes up claiming he knows the whereabouts of the missing local champ, Rannulph Junuh. The movie is his recollection of events.

Initially reluctant because he has lost his swing and his life stinks, Junuh is persuaded to enter by a mystery man who literally shows up out of the blue. Using clever observations and well-chosen words of wisdom, the stranger helps Junuh to see that everything he needs is still there inside of him. That mystery man is Bagger Vance (Will Smith).

With the help of the young Greaves and Vance, Junuh hopes to turn his life around, patch things up with the girl he mysteriously dumped twelve years earlier, and win the tournament. Touching stuff.

This film has director Robert Redford's trademarks all over it. The scenery is beautiful, as are the sets and costuming. There are characters trying to overcome self-doubt with the aid of sport. There is an overdose of flawed humanity and the characters are very predictable, as is the plot. The Legend of Bagger Vance is the kind of film that offers no surprises, and everything is announced beforehand via the use of sweeping and rousing orchestral pieces while the image drops into slow motion, slowly closing in on the pained expression on the face of the actor. It is the kind of film that tries very hard to be feel-good, but ends up being sickly sweet.

The characters are also rather shallow, and while the acting was acceptable, there is no real need for any of the cast to stretch themselves. The lines are often corny, and the dialogue is rather cliched. Sure there is golf jargon and that's perfectly acceptable in a film about golfers, but some of the lines are so obvious you will know what the character is going to say even before he or she does.

The biggest problem with the film is that it asks you to sympathise with the main character, Rannulph Junuh, but the character is, quite frankly, boring. It goes straight for the heartstrings, and misses. There are plenty of films that attempt to show us characters overcoming self-doubt and triumphing over adversity, but most of them do it better than The Legend of Bagger Vance.

  Video
Contract

The Legend of Bagger Vance is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The image is well detailed and sharp throughout. Colours are interesting, and being a period piece, are well used to convey a sense of age to the film. Colours are slightly muted, and the whole thing has a sort of late afternoon glow, which is aided by the subdued lighting and filters. Shadow detail is generally good, though a little less defined in indoor and night scenes.

There are no film artefacts, and grain is at a minimum, except for some deliberately grainy shots during the wartime flashback sequences. Black levels likewise are quite good, and there is no evidence of low-level or chroma noise. There is some infrequent and subtle edge enhancement, and the barest evidence of aliasing. These are so minor they will not be a distraction.

The layer change is placed between scenes at 69:46.

  Audio
Contract

The only option is a Dolby Digital 5.1 and it's very impressive. Being a film about golf, there are few loud noises, but your system will still get a good workout. Most dialogue is placed in the centre speaker, and only occasionally is it slightly drowned out by the orchestral score. The southern accents can be a bit of a challenge, so although the English subtitles are not 100% faithful to the spoken word, they will help if, like me, you miss the occasional word. Audio synch is not a problem.

Low level sounds are relatively few, except for the occasional roll of thunder, and even the subwoofer gets a look in and the deep rumbling will impress. Rear speakers are constantly in use, and carry mostly ambient sounds such as swamp noises, the golf crowds, and the brief war scenes. The orchestrated score is also very prominent, and there is some very obvious panning of sounds, and well thought out separation.

  Extras
Contract

At first glance there appears to be a whole golf bag of extras, but closer inspection shows this is not quite the case. They are however, better than the rental release of The Legend of Bagger Vance which had none.

Robert Redford: Insight Into The Legend of Bagger Vance: This is a 4:16 minute, full frame presentation, in Dolby Digital 2.0 which features Redford explaining his love of directing, and some of his basic filmmaking philosophy. It is a voiceover only that's set to images from the film.

Production Featurette is essentially a set of very short interviews with the main cast, and their opinions of the film. It is presented in a mix of aspect ratio 1.78:1 and full frame and is not 16x9 enhanced. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

The Original Theatrical Trailer and Original Theatrical Teaser Trailer last 2:22 and 1:27 respectively. Each is in a a6x9 enhanced aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and they are both in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. They're just standard trailer fare.

Production Notes is roughly 15 screens of text covering many production aspects such as adapting the novel, filming on location, and casting.

Cast and Film Biographies is a collection of 18 biographies for cast and crew and it seems almost no one is left out. Each is text only, but is easy to read.

Other Robert Redford Recommendation: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid may set a new record for the extra with the longest title, but at 58 seconds is nothing more than an advert for the release of this classic film on DVD (and VHS - but who cares about that, right?).

  Overall  
Contract

The Legend of Bagger Vance is a film that tries too hard to make you feel good. Robert Redford is in familiar territory about this down and out sport hero trying to reconstruct his life and overcome adversity. A somewhat bland cast, with a bland script, is not going to result in a great film. The actors are not challenged, the characters are pretty shallow, and the dialogue is full of cliches and corny lines. If you like wishy washy films that simply present themselves for your viewing pleasure, then you will probably enjoy The Legend of Bagger Vance. If it is a challenging drama with some serious demands made of the cast you are looking for, you will need to look elsewhere.


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      And I quote...
    "There's a fine line between heart-warming and heartburn...."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Akai
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
          Wellings
    • Centre Speaker:
          Wellings
    • Surrounds:
          Wellings
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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