Oliver Stone is known for many, many things…his contribution of films to the American (Worldwide) public is among the most notable; while his constant “conspiracy” theories may be something other. Among Stone’s accolades are such gems as Platoon, Born on the Forth of July and JFK. And while his latest offerings haven’t offered near as much spice as the old ones, they still manage to appeal to the senses when they come out. Movies like Natural Born Killers, Nixon and U-Turn I feel are made more to create a controversy than to make an actual film. But what do I know? It’s with this latest offering from Stone that he has returned to his true form. Always a voyeur in the filming of his movies, Stone pulls out the stops in his latest effort, endowing us with about every film trick in the book. His constant use of grainy and stock film is always put to good use and it’s never been better than with Any Given Sunday.
The film’s title, obviously, pays homage to the sport of football. Long thought to be sacrilegious for being played on this day (and it’s addressed in the film as well), it’s become more of an American pastime than baseball. We meet Tony D’Amato (Al Pacino) as the “been there done that” coach of the fictitious Miami Sharks. As a coach who has been through it all with the former owner and general manger of the team, he is given tremendous latitude with his control of it. The only problem is that he has now passed on and has left the team to his daughter (Cameron Diaz). The team is in the midst of a losing streak when their best player and leader, “Cap” (Dennis Quaid) is sidelined for a month and must undergo yet another surgery. So it begins. After losing two quarterbacks in two plays (the second string QB goes down on one play), the burden falls on Willie Beamen (Jamie Foxx) to carry the team onto victory. While not being the best team player, it makes a point that Willie has a lot of natural talent, and is among the new breed of professional player. Hes also not the type of player that Cap (a 38-year old veteran) is. After the team gets on a winning streak again, Willie becomes the object of everyone’s affection and has the ego to prove it. He wastes no time in practically isolating himself from his friends, family and loved ones and we see that this story is more about relationships between players and coaches than anything else.
Sporting an all-star cast (as do most of Stone’s films), we see and learn that this is no ordinary football movie. Not only is it time for some of the players to bow out and retire, we see the relationships crumble and see more fake personalities than we can handle. While bearing that logo of being “an Oliver Stone film” which Stone plays a more noticeable (and convincing) role than in most of his movies, it’s also a good movie about football. A good football movie is something that we didn’t really have before this, as most of the other sports have been made into movies that are comedies or dramas. Overall, the cutting edge photography and extra long running time make it a movie that passes by in what seems like minutes. Football fans take note, this ones a must see.
Video: How does it look?
This is now the second incarnation of the movie on Blu-ray and for those that were hoping for a new 4K restoration…keep on waiting. If anything different was done to the transfer then I sure as hell can’t tell the difference between the old one and this one. That said Any Given Sunday looked good when it first came out on standard DVD back in 2000 and time has been good to the film. With this second Blu-ray offering, Warner has encoded the HD transfer in a VC-1 codec. The game shots are amazing with a level of detail that far surpasses the original DVD. The green of the grass and the fabric in the players jerseys look great and, again, look superior to the DVD. Football fans take note, in the off season if you want to see top notch football in HD fire up this movie for your fix.
Audio: How does it sound?
Again, the same DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is included in this Blu-ray (the accompanying DVD still has the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix) and theres something about a football movie that really energizes the speakers and brings the viewer into the film. Any Given Sunday has that in spades and has one of the more active LFE channels Ive heard. The “thuds” and “crunches” heard during the game sound extremely lifelike and it adds to the general ambiance of a movie about football. Dialogue, of course, is clean and clear as wed expect. Of note, I will say that the music videos sound amazing and I can’t get “Willie Beamen” out of my head. This is a top notch effort and it’s perhaps the most realistic football movie that I’ve ever heard.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is a blatant double dip by Warner, who has the largest catalog of any studio in the world. Having said that, if you don’t already own this on Blu-ray, this is the version to get as it does contain at least one new feature over the previous Blu-ray offering. The remainder of the supplements are the same as the previous Blu-ray (and DVD) so even though all the boxes are checked, you’ll only find one new supplement.
Any Given Sunday: Anything Can Happen – The lone new supplement is a 30 minute (in an AVC codec no less) with some interviews with some NFL players as well as some insight from Stone (also new). It’s a look at the film, how ahead of its time it was and it’s gruesome depiction of how real it was. Of note, it was interesting that the NFL wanted absolutely nothing to do with the film due to some of the scenes of owners and players. It’s an interesting supplement, but I wouldn’t think that it would be enough to warrant a purchase if you already own the previous Blu-ray.
Audio Commentaries – The first is with Oliver Stone who once again delivers another great commentary. It seems the guy knows everything. Though not quite as informative as the other tracks in his collection, this is still one to listen to and especially if you’re a fan of the movie. The second track has members of the cast and crew, which was just a bit too much for me. I think having more than one person on the track is good, which keeps the dialogue moving, but this just didn’t seem to work. l like the movie, but would rather listen to Stone’s track again than that of the cast and crew.
Full Contact: The Making of Any Given Sunday – This is an HBO-produced featurette that has some of the standard faire with interviews with the cast and crew, some behind the scenes footage and the like.
Deleted and Extended Scenes – Running at just over a half hour, there are 14 available with or without commentary by Director Oliver Stone.
“Shut ’em Down” – Performed by LL Cool J.
“Any Given Sunday” – Performed by Jamie Foxx.
“My Name is Willie” – Performed by Jamie Foxx.
Jamie Foxx Audition Tape – We see some rough footage of Foxx as he tries to get the part. Spoiler: He did.
Instant Replay – Essentially lets you jump to action scenes in the film.
Football and Landscape Outtakes – Some additional deleted sequences that didn’t make the cut (these are second unit shots).
The Art of Selling – Some posters that weren’t used as well as some production photos.
Gag Reel – Shenanigans on the set.
DVD Copy – The theatrical version appears on the DVD copy only while the Blu-ray contains Stone’s Director’s Cut.