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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Ultimate Jordan
Ultimate Jordan
USA // Unrated // October 23, 2001
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Loren Halek | posted December 17, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Feature

Ultimate Jordan comes out on the heels of Michael Jordan's re-entry into professional basketball. This DVD release was not planned to coincide with Jordan's comeback with the Washington Wizards, but I'm sure it has helped sales quite a bit. Ultimate Jordan is a collection of 5 shorts that were originally released on VHS chronicling Jordan's play and history during the years of 1989-1999. The 5 shorts are: Come Fly With Me, Michael Jordan's Playground, Air Time, Above & Beyond and His Airness. The first 3 are on the first disc while the other 2, along with many extras, are on the second disc.

Come Fly With Me (roughly 45 minutes), first released in 1989, is a look into Jordan's early years with the Bulls and his history with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The legend is just beginning to take shape. This is before any championships had been won yet. There are many interviews with people such as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.

Michael Jordan's Playground (roughly 45 minutes), first released in 1991, is mostly a showpiece. There are many clips of Jordan doing what he does best. It has a side story going on about a little boy trying to get on his school's basketball team. He isn't the greatest player and Jordan helps him with moves on the court. This is an allusion to Jordan's early years where he was geared more toward baseball than basketball.

Air Time (roughly 45 minutes), first released in 1993, is about Jordan's first two NBA championships and his time with the Dream Team that won the Gold Medal in Barcelona. The legend is starting to solidify his place in history.

Above and Beyond (roughly 53 minutes), first released in 1996, is a piece narrated by Eric La Salle of TV's ER. It goes over the trials and tribulations of Jordan's father dying, Jordan's first retirement, his brief flirtation with professional baseball and his re-emergence into professional basketball.

His Airness (roughly 53 minutes), released in 1999, looks back at Jordan's then re-retired career. It goes over his many accomplishments in his career. It also talks about the other championships he won with the Bulls. It's a bit funny to watch this because of Jordan's entrance into the NBA again. Bob Costas' line of "this may have been Jordan's final shot ever" when he made the shot against the Jazz is kind of moot now.

I will admit I am a big fan of Michael Jordan. For the casual fan, His Airness is probably all you need to see to get the general scope of Michael Jordan. It condenses the history from the other 4 shorts and overlooks Jordan's whole career. This is not to say it takes the place of the other 4 shorts though. The other 4 shorts are very honed in on the years that they cover. For the true Jordan fan who has or hasn't seen these shorts on video, this collection is well worth the price to pay. For any non-fans of basketball or Jordan himself, it would be very wise to stay away from this collection.


Video: The video is a very mixed bag. The older footage (pre-NBA) contained in Come Fly With Me and Michael Jordan's Playground are very grainy. The footage of Jordan's shot that won the NCAA championship for the University of North Carolina is very poor. However, when one of the later shorts shows the same game the footage is much cleaner. The other 3 look pretty good, but it certainly won't win any awards. All the pieces are shown in Full-Frame 1.33:1 ratio, the way they were originally released.

Sound: Offered in remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, the sound goes from bad to very good. The sound is very quiet and feels like you're in a tunnel in the first 2 shorts. The 5.1 is very spotty. There are some parts where footage is shown where you hear the whole crowd. Then there are other parts where you don't feel like you're there. This collection is obviously not sound intensive such as something like Jordan to the MAX would be.

Menus: The menus are very static in their presentation. There is a bit of animation at the very beginning of the menu screens, but that is about it. They are easy to navigate, but don't offer anything extraordinary.

Extras: There are quite a bit of extras in this collection:

Top 10 Lists: There are quite a few Top 10 lists located in the Extras section. They are Michael's Greatest Moves, Michael's Greatest Clutch Shots, Michael's Greatest Assists, and of course Michael's Greatest Dunks. Each list is supported by said in-game action. Each one lasts about 3 ½ minutes each.

Great Michael Memories: This is a collection of interviews from players around the NBA who opposed Jordan during his career. The talking about the awe and fear of Jordan is very interesting in this section. Jordan has lots of friends in the NBA that are on other teams and everyone just seems inspired that they played against him.

Jill Scott Musical Tribute: Basically a highlight clip with Jill Scott's "It's Love" playing.

It's Gotta Be the Shoes: A collection of advertisement cuts done by Jordan for Nike. Such people as Mars Blackman (Spike Lee) and Bugs Bunny are in this section. They show logos for the Air Jordan's for the years that the 5 shorts were produced. The thing that is sad about this section is that they don't have the actual commercials. That would have been a great addition.

Michael Jordan Timeline: This is a timeline for Jordan's career from 1982-2000. There are roughly 30 second clips for each year that show the highlights Jordan did in that specific year. It ends with Jordan announcing he will be a part owner of the Washington Wizards and becoming president of the club.

Slam Dunk Contest Highlights: A roughly 5 minute extra that shows the highlights of Jordan's dunks at the annual Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend.

Michael's Greatest 8: This is Jordan counting down his greatest 8 accomplishments. It counts down to the last shot Michael made before he retired the second time that won the 6th championship for the Chicago Bulls. Michael may have other great moments in the future.

DVD-ROM Features: A comprehensive statistical overview of Jordan's spectacular career; Upper Deck trading card gallery; EA Sports game sampler; trivia game; photo gallery; Jordan Internet links

This collection also came with a 16-page booklet with information on the DVD and many pictures of Jordan. It's another nice plus.

Final Thoughts: If you're a Jordan fan, Ultimate Jordan is the ultimate buy for now. Not only do you get 5 previously released shorts on him, but you also get a plethora of extras. The extras add to the 5 shorts and make this purchase well worth your money. If you're not a Jordan fan but are interested in his history, this is a great place to start. You certainly find out a lot about the man and the legend. If you're not at all interested in Jordan or basketball, steer clear. Recommended for everyone, highly recommended for Jordan fans.
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