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2014 World Series Film
After World Series wins in 2010 and 2012, one could find little qualm from friends or foes if they pegged the San Francisco Giants for another appearance in the Fall Classic. And coming into 2014, they added veteran pitcher Tim Hudson and outfielder Michael Morse to a squad that still had catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and pitchers Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo and Madison Bumgarner. Perhaps most importantly, they still had manager Bruce Bochy. Bochy was a former catcher, playing a decade in Major League Baseball and his size 8+ hat was so large it was rumored you could put a six pack with ice into his helmet. But as baseball fans have learned in recent years, it may house one of the most brilliant baseball minds in recent memory, and the chronicles of Bochy's Giants towards another World Series Championship is chronicled in this film.
This World Series film is narrated by Colin Hanks (Parkland), and shows the run up to the Giants' postseason, where they finished 88-74, six games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, but enough to get a Wild Card Spot, where they went to Pittsburgh to play the rejuvenated Pirates. The Giants disposed of the Bucs handily behind a Brandon Crawford grand slam home run, and went south to play the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series. They won Game 1 in D.C. and took a marathon Game 2 in 18 innings and almost six and a half hours before eventually going to the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Where the National League World Series' representative was generally one of these teams and occasionally in hard fought affairs, this was less so as the Giants took the NLCS in five games and went on to play the Kansas City Royals from the American League, making their first Series appearance in almost 30 years.
Game 1 went as expected with an easy Giants win, but then the Royals won Games 2 and 3, prompting many to think that the Royals ‘didn't know it was a damn show, (they) thought it was a damn fight,' winning the next 2 before the Giants corrected course with an 11-4 win in Game 4. Game 5 saw them win behind Bumgarner's arm, his second shutout in the postseason and the third where he had given up a run or less. But the Royals stomped the Giants in Game 6 10-0 to set up Game 7, which lived up to the hype. The Giants scored a go-ahead run in the fourth inning and in the fifth, Bumgarner came on to pitch, barely three days after his start in Game 5. He closed the book on the Royals in the series and cinched his World Series MVP to boot, with two wins and a save in three games, allowing one run and striking out 17 in the process.
I maintain that if you know what the result of a subject is and still manage to suspend your memory or disbelief of it that it is a good film, fiction or non, and Major League Baseball and A&E manage to attain that nicely. From a format perspective, the regular season was with little note so a minimum of time is spent on that, more to get to the playoffs which was where the meat of things were. In past years, I seem to recall a bit more instances of where players had microphones and talk up moments with their teammates. You get some of it here but it is not as prevalent, so the film relies on Hanks' narration along with the requisite dramatic music cues and you know, it works. In lieu of the player audio you get interviews from them (along with Bochy) and they add a little bit of context to a moment in action, whether it is Bumgarner's relief turn in Game 7 or Pence talking about adopting the Daniel Bryan "YES!" chant in the clubhouse. It works well.
Perhaps I may be a little more detached from the World Series films or have built up a thick skin to them, but it would appear MLB Video and A&E/Lionsgate decided to try something new (heck, the other stuff had been done on previous Giants films I suppose), and the slightly new twist on telling the story is a pleasant surprise. If nothing else, I want the Giants to win even more World Series titles so the storytellers could be challenged. Here's hoping.The Blu-ray Disc:
AVC encode on a 1.78:1 widescreen presentation that looks very nice in 720p. Colors and flesh tones are reproduced naturally with no saturation problems, and the feature shifts from video of games to film shot at games to interviews with the players nicely. There are even moments of image detail to be gained from the interview segments which was a mild surprise. All in all this is a nice presentation to go with this shiny package.The Sound:
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless track is fine without being distracting or a deterrent to the film. Hanks' narration is consistent through the center channel during the film, and if I did not know any better, there is the slightest dusting of Liev Schreiber in his work which to be honest, I find no fault with. There is little in the way of channel panning or low end fidelity during the broadcast, and the game action sounds as accurate as it did when it first aired on television.Extras:
Some bits and pieces that accompany these World Series films. First, an MLB 162 segment on Morse (4:12) where he discusses his career and his thoughts on playing with the Giants. "Mission October" (5:12) shows the prank played on the rookies for the year, while "Regular Season Milestones and Highlights" (4:24) is self-explanatory, as is the "Clinching Moments" (2:55). "World Series Highlights" (9:39) show the key moments from the Classic, while there is some video from the subsequent parade in San Francisco (2:54). A nice montage showing the items going to the Baseball Hall of Fame completes things (1:33).Final Thoughts:
I believe if you are not a baseball fan (and I am not as much as I used to be) or a fan of the Giants, that the 2014 World Series film will, at the very least, earn some begrudging respect on how it tells the story as it had told it in various manners before. Technically it looks great and sounds good, and even has some odds and ends you might enjoy. Even in this specialized area of films on baseball, this is one of the better ones I can recall seeing.