30 Odd Foot Grunts - Texas
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // Unrated // $29.99 // February 25, 2003
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted March 4, 2003
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The Movie:

If I remember correctly, "Texas" has been, at least for a year or so now, a big seller on Ebay, only available at shows for the band. The reason for all the attention is simple: what is otherwise a rather basic, rather rough-looking concert documentary stars one Russell Crowe. The "Gladiator" star has had this band as his side project for years now and, given the star's rise to fame, the band's popularity has also risen.

"Texas", surprisingly, is only partially devoted to the band's live performance in said state. The remainder of the documentary has the camera following the band around as they rehearse (at no less than Pinewood Studios, where the Bond films are shot), drive around and eventually, play in Austin, Texas.

"Texas" seems rather uneventful and low-key during its opening moments, but as it gets going, it offers some surprises and turns more entertaining. As for the unexpected part, Crowe turns out to be a very good singer, and the band offers good, solid classic rock. Clearly, given the history of this band - started long before Crowe's acting career got underway - this is no vanity project or simple hobby.

The documentary really gets going at about the thirty minute mark, as we follow the band as they prepare for their big show in Austin, Texas. Problems with the venue must be addressed, the band must rehearse and they're still worrying about the recording process for their new album. It's also no surprise that, when the (sold out) concert line forms, 95% of the audience is female.

"Texas" is basically an entertaining concert documentary that provides a decent glimpse into the behind-the-scenes life of the band. Both halves of the documentary work in a satisfactory fashion, but both could have been better. The opening half of "Texas" gives us a decent overview of the band's history, but doesn't tell us give us enough insight into the band or their music. The concert is decently filmed, but - and this is an issue with "Texas" as a whole - the show looks to have been filmed with a couple of basic cameras. A couple of strange wavy visual effects during the concert scenes are unnecessary (it looks early 90's MTV), too. The editing (which is occasionally to the music) could have been called less attention to itself, as well.

Overall, this is a perfectly enjoyable documentary that, with some more work and a bigger budget, could have been an even more involving look at Crowe's long-time musical project.


VIDEO: The documentary is presented in 1.78:1 non-anamorphic widescreen. The documentary is rather low-key and rough looking (I'm guessing it was shot on 16mm or video or both), which is rather unexpected, given the band's success. Sharpness and detail vary greatly throughout the show, with some dimly-lit interior scenes looking soft and rather hazy, while brighter, outdoor scenes tend to appear a bit sharper. The camera even goes out of focus a couple of times.

In terms of flaws, what concerns I did spot seemed to be due to the source material. Some slight-to-heavy grain is present throughout much of the documentary. However, no print flaws were spotted and compression artifacts were kept to a minimum. Edge enhancement was rarely visible, as well.

Colors were generally well-rendered, with only slight smearing occasionally visible.

SOUND: "Texas" is presented by Miramax in Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0. When played back in Pro Logic II or Neo-6, the 2.0 audio during the concert scenes offered a decent amount of envelopment. Audio quality was generally pleasing, with dialogue usually fairly easy to hear, if a little rough sounding at times. The music also sounds good, too, although a bigger budget would have likely allowed better recording. Oddly enough, the 5.1 presentation is not the default audio track, and I only realized the DVD included a 5.1 track after watching the film once through in 2.0. The 5.1 track does offer a noticable improvement in envelopment during the concert sequences, with nice (if still minor) reinforcement of the music by the rear speakers. This certainly isn't up to the kind of slick 5.1 expriences that most concert programs on DVD provide, but it works. Audio quality also seemed somewhat improved on the 5.1 track, as the 5.1 option came across as offering better clarity - both in terms of the music and the interviews.

EXTRAS: Although many of the supplements apparently can only be found by getting hints from the band's website (gruntland.com), readily available on the DVD are multi-angle segments, bonus footage, lyrics, music videos and photo galleries.

Final Thoughts: I liked "Texas", despite its flaws. I found the music to be very enjoyable and, as a result, was a little dissapointed that the documentary wasn't a bit more professional in appearance. Crowe's a great actor and, surprise - a very good musician, too. Miramax's re-release of this (apparently) band-made DVD is very good, too. Once you get past the somewhat confusing menus, there's a lot of features to explore. Audio/video quality are about as good as one an expected, given the material. Recommended for fans of the actor.

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