Kevin Costner has always had a following, although others can't see him as a "serious" actor with films like Waterworld. Thankfully For Love of the Game is one that allows just about anyone, no matter what their personal opinion, to sit back and enjoy a good chick flick with their loved ones...and you do not have to be a baseball fan to appreciate the story!
Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is a legend in baseball. After 19 years in the Major League for the Detroit Tigers, Chapel knows one thing...he absolutely loves the game...he lives for it. But he has reached a point in his life where everything is changing: his long-time love Jane (Kelly Preston) is leaving, his team is being sold, and he just might be ready to finally retire. As he plays his last game of the season, his entire life flashes before his eyes. Every special moment he has spent with Jane, the good times with his friend and catcher Gus (John C. Reilly), and the many other life-changing moments he has experienced. Nothing is going to stop Chapel from pitching the best game of his life and the memories rushing by him only help him push harder. As this one amazing game continues on, he comes to term with the fact that he cannot do everything on his own. This makes him realize that Jane is so much more important than he ever imagined...is the possibility of a perfect game even worth it, if he is going to lose her?
Kevin Costner does a great job as Billy Chapel and completely embraces the character...emotions, complexes, and all. Not once did I look back and think of him as anyone else other then Chapel. His passion for the game of baseball really comes through and puts you right there with him, enjoying what he loves...baseball. Kelly Preston also fits perfectly into her role as Jane. From dealing with dating a "star" to working on a long distance relationship, she takes a lot of hurt and stress and feels like she gets little in return. Her character is put through many different phases in life and Preston does a fantastic job in each of those stages. Other notable appearances include John C. Reilly as Chapel's longtime teammate and best friend and Jena Malone as Heather, Jane's daughter. Each cast member is really enjoyable to watch as they mold into their characters very well.
The thing I enjoyed the most about For Love of the Game is definitely the way the story is presented. It isn't your traditional love story where we see everything as it actually happens. Here we see where the relationship begins and ends almost entirely in flashbacks. As Chapel plays the most memorable game of his life, we see all the events that have changed his life in some way and watch a unique love story unfold. This is truly what separates For Love of the Game apart.
For Love of the Game works extremely well as both a love story and a baseball movie. It captures Chapel's love for baseball as he juggles to get ahold of his love for Jane. It is a good film to enjoy by yourself or with a friend or loved one, especially because it isn't focused completely on.
Universal decided to pull out all the stops with this 1080p VC-1 Codec, with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It was very difficult for me to find anything wrong with this transfer. The flesh tones are spot on, and extremely even throughout. The colors are warm, even, and pop beautifully, especially the greens and blues. The detail is very strong throughout as we see fantastic scenes during a baseball game, and vivid flashbacks. The only complaint I have, and it is a small one, is that at times the edge enhancements and contrast seems to be a little much. This causes the image to pop too much and look a little fake. Other then that, this is what catalog titles are supposed to look like when they are released into the high-def world!
Again Universal holds nothing back with two great tracks, a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD & a 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus. Both are spectacular as the surrounds kick in throughout the film and are filled with cars, crowds yelling...screaming...taunting...cheering, and everything in-between. The dialogue is excellent, even, and just loud enough to always be heard. The only small negative I noticed were the lows. They never really kick in as much as they could have, especially during the crowded stadium when the fans are roaring.
I've got to warn you upfront that although these features say they are in 1080p it honestly only looks like 480p and maybe up-converted to 1080i. Also, all the features on this release match the SD-DVD except it is missing the Production Notes/Cast and Crew Bios.
Spotlight on Location: A nice look into the creation of For Love of the Game with cast and crew interviews chatting about scenes, story, and characters. Definitely a great feature if you are a fan of the film...it will fill you in on many details and fun facts that you might not know.
Deleted Scenes: Some extended, some deleted...all are just okay and the movie is already long and definitely didn't need the extra fluff.
The Perfect Game: This is just text that fills us in on the history of players who have had perfect games.
On the Mound: Just a little trivia game.
For Love of the Game is a fun, heartfelt film about a man who has to decide between his love of the game and the love of his life. It is definitely worth a watch as Kevin Costner is a lovable, complex character and is enjoyable to watch. The audio and video are both top notch with only minor issues, but unfortunately the extras track is lacking. I can still easily recommend this one!