The Transpac is one of the most prestigious races in competitive sailing. Compared to the Indy 500 at the beginning of the movie, the race goes from the shores of
The film starts out with a brief introduction to the race and meeting the 15 finalist who were going to train for the race. That was the first let down. Since they didn't want to start from zero, all of the finalist had a good amount of sailing experience which meant that they were all rich, white, college kids (going to Stanford, Harvard, Brown etc.) and predominantly male. There were two women in the final group, and one black man who had "the least amount of experience" according to the narrator and who admitted later "I don't really grasp the concept of sailing across the ocean." Oh yeah, and he can't swim. The rest of the group were kind enough not to give him the nickname "token".
These fifteen were to train for six months in
The second half of the movie is the race itself, a long, tiring journey that really tested the endurance of the kids. This part was filmed by the crew themselves, and gives viewers some sort of idea what it's like to compete in such a race.
But how is it as a movie? Not that great really. It has the flaws of a reality show but do to the short length of the film (as compared to a year-long TV season) none of the advantages. It was hard to get to know any of the sailors and see what their personalities were like. There just wasn't that much time. At the end of the movie I still couldn't identify the people who sailed the ship, much less decide who I liked and didn't like.
Because of the lack of time viewers get to spend with the crew, many of their decisions don't make sense, especially when it comes to pick the 11 people who will be sailing the ship. (Minor spoiler for the rest of this paragraph.) One of the candidates has been seriously injured and missed weeks of training, yet inexplicably that person is chosen, still not fully healed. Another member is one with the least experience. Why? Everyone goes on and on about how competent everyone is, and they decide on the least likely candidates? If they was more time, maybe it would have made more sense.
There wasn't much of a documentary aspect to the film either. I was expecting to learn something about sailing, but I really didn't. Aside from a couple of terms they didn't describe what goes into professional competitive sailing. With each team using the same computer software and following the same wind patterns, what makes one team better than another aside from the design of the boat? I've watch the America's Cup race on ESPN (I was trapped at the time and had no choice) and the color commentators for that event explained what was going on much better than this film.
The Blu-ray Disc:
While the disc undoubtedly reproduces the original footage well, the movie doesn't look that impressive do to the source material. Filmed with HD cameras on the sailboat and adjoining vessels, the 1.85:1 AVC encoded image is uneven. Night scenes are in black and white and very grainy, and the daytime shots were sometimes soft. Water drops on the lens were common and a lot of the movie looked flat. The colors were generally fine and the disc doesn't look bad, just not exceptional.
The DTS-HD audio also suffered in the on-board segments, which admittedly is most of the film. There's a lot of background noise, waves, the ship creaking, and ropes being pulled, but the dialog is never hard to understand and while it's not as crisp as I would have liked it was fine for a documentary.
There is a pair of featurettes included with this movie. The first is Stories from the Sea, a 28-minute documentary on the race and the making of the film. Next up is Making the Cut an ESPN special that runs about 48 minutes and looks at the how the finalists for the race were chosen. These two were nice additions to the disc.
While there wasn't much information to be gleaned from this movie, there still were some interesting and exciting moments. Seeing their main rival pull up behind them in the middle of the
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.