Probably one of the most famous made-for-TV movies ever, "Brian's Song" is an excellent film that focuses on the friendship between two different men who are brought together to play on the Chicago Bears. Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams) and Brian Piccolo (James Caan) are the two men in question, and the movie shows them helping each other through the season as they run into problems along the way.
Midway through the film, the team finds out that Brian has cancer. Where the film could have been overly emotional or a sappy "movie-of-the-week", the film's relationships and dialogue are both honest and emotional without being manipulative. Both Williams and Caan turn in excellent performances, and the film's final scenes are quite touching.
It's a film that will probably have most in tears by the end, but I think the whole thing works well, from begining to end.
VIDEO: There are some noticable problems with the image quality on "Brian's Song", but on the flip side, this full-frame presentation is probably about the best that the film has ever looked. There is noticable graininess in some scenes, but these instances are isolated and not consistent throughout the entire film. There is also some dirt, marks and wear on the print used, as well. These problems vary in amount, as well. There is some slight shimmering, but no pixelation.
Colors are fine, most of the time they look solid and nicely saturated, but now and then they do look slightly faded. Sharpness is good, but not great; images look solid and nicely defined, but softness does creep in on occasion. Detail is fair as well, and clarity is generally pleasing.
This is a good presentation of the movie; it's flawed, but considering the movie's age, this is probably the best it looks on video.
SOUND: The film's audio is mono, and although it sounds somewhat thin at times, it doesn't contain any noticable distortion or hiss. The musical score sounds pretty dated, but generally clear, as well. Dialogue is fairly crisp and easily heard. About what you'd expect from the audio for a TV movie from the 70's..
MENUS:: Like the rest of the "Apes" films, "Conquest" has film-themed animation, including guns going off in the special features menu.
Commentary: This is a commentary from James Caan and Billy Dee Williams and I'm pleased to say that it's one of the more entertaining commentaries I've heard in the past year. The two simply have a whole lot of fun revisiting the movie and while it's not terribly technical in discussion, it's incredibly funny at times as the two goof on each other and the movie.
Comments from the two get less frequent and sometimes a little less humourous as the film goes on, but I still thought it was an enjoyable commentary. At least the first half contains some of the funniest comments I've heard in a commentary in quite a while.
Gale Sayers: First and Goal: This is a 10 minute featurette from Gale Sayers that details his history with football, and his relationship with fellow player Brian Piccolo. A very interesting and emotional featurette that leads the viewer through the friendship between these two men.
Trailers: Trailers for "Brian's Song", "Jerry Maguire" and "A League Of Their Own"
Also: Talent files.
Final Thoughts: "Brian's Song" is an excellent film, and although the image quality does show a bit of wear, the 25 year old film still looks pretty solid. The commentary is excellent, as well.