Cinderella Man (2005) - Widescreen Edition
|Genre(s): Biographical / Drama / Sports|
|Universal || PG13 - 144 minutes - $29.98 || December 6th, 2005|
|Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2005-12-01|
Writer(s): Cliff Hollingsworth (story), Cliff Hollingsworth (screenplay) and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti, Craig Bierko, Paddy Considine, Bruce McGill
Theatrical Release Date: June 3rd, 2005
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After seeing the movie again after many months, I still think it's the best film of the year. Here's my original review:
Cinderella Man has long been one of my most anticiapted film of this year. Mainly because Russell Crowe is my favorite actor and because I was a big fan of A Beautiful Mind. After seeing it, I would definitely say it's my favorite film of the year so far. It reminded me of classic Hollywood filmmaking when people actually cared about telling stories on film. It's also nice to see a summer film that isn't drenched in special effects either. I know a lot of people are going to compare this to A Beautiful Mind, which is understandable, but they really aren't that close to one another. ABM was more emotional and psychological. Cinderella Man is more of an audience involved film that is much more of a crowd pleaser. People are also going to try and compare this to Seabiscuit, which is understandable too, but I thought this movie was much much better. The problem with Seabiscuit is that it felt distant and the fact that it seemed to drag too much in many places. In Cinderella Man, it is much more personal because you follow Braddock and his family through the depression. You see a man go from riches to rags beceause of the depression and the film captures this beautifully. I think Richard Roeper may have said it best about this film so far. He said the first half is a family oriented film about survival, and the second half is a boxing movie, which is very true.
Ron Howard has definitely matured as a director too. The boxing sequences are handeled greatly. Especially the final sequence between Max Baer and James Braddock. I can't say that Howard does anything original in terms of the filming, but he still manages to pull off the scenes very well. I would rank the boxing sequences with Ali and Raging Bull as three of the best I've ever seen. Like Ali and Raging Bull, you feel like you're in the ring with Braddock and you feel every blow he takes. Raging Bull's sequences are still my favorite by far, but I like Howard's work on this film too. The film itself if shot beautifully by cinematographer Salvatore Totino. He captures the gritty look of the depression very well. From a technical standpoint, the film is amazing. The score from Thomas Newman is very subtle, but fits the film perfectly, just like James Horner's work in ABM. It reminded me a lot of Newman's scores for Road to Perdition and The Shawshank Redemption. He also incorporates old fashioned music from the time period like he did in Road to Perdition and Shawshank too. The art direction, costume design and editing were all done exceptionally well too.
In terms of acting, the entire cast does a great job. Russell Crowe is great as usual. His ability to morph himself into any role he does is the main reason why he is easily my favorite actor working in film today. Whether he is a Captain on a ship, a gladiator, a cop, a nazi skinhead, a hockey player, a 55 year old tobacco whistle blower, or a schizophrenic mathematician, Crowe always seems to become his characters through dedication. At this point, anyone who doesn't think Crowe is one of the best actors working in film today has to be blind. He carries the film beautifully on his shoulders and takes the film up 3 or 4 notches because of his dedication to the part. He is an actor who is truly an artist to me. He only picks scripts that he will dedicate himself 110% too, which is why he doesn't make 18 films per year like some other actors do. That is the main reason why he is so great in every film he is in. I also loved Paul Giamatti's performance as Joe. His work is great and is definitely nomination worthy especially after his snub for Sideways. He and Crowe have great chemistry between them. Renée Zellweger also gives a solid performance as Mae. She doesn't have much to work with (she's the typical supporting wife), but still does a good job. Nevertheless, she and Crowe have a great relationship with one another which makes the story believable. I also liked the performances from the three young children, Bruce McGill, Chuck Shamata, Craig Bierko and a small part from Paddy Considine as well. Overall, it is a great ensemble piece of acting. Everyone contributes greatly to the film.
In the end, Cinderella Man is just great to watch and like ABM, the story is very inspirational. I can't really comment on the rest of the reactions from the audience because it was the premiere and naturally they all went crazy for it. I'll definitely see it again to see what other film goers think. But if I had to guess, I would say that this film will be a great crowd pleaser. I thoroughly enjoyed the film from beginning to end. Personally, I am not sure if I like it more than ABM yet. I'll have to see it a few more times before I can make a final judgment. If you know the story of James Braddock, are a fan of Russell Crowe or just like great and well told stories you'll definitely enjoy the film.
The one disc edition of the film has 6 deleted scenes, which run about 20 minutes long. I don’t think any of them needed to be in the film, but they’re still very good scenes. There’s a great emotional scene between Joe Gould and Jim Braddock which reinforces Paul Giamatti and Russell Crowe’s already great performances. There is also a great scene between Mae and Jim which is an extension of the “shoe polish” scene that we see in the film. There’s also a deleted scene in which a man pulls a gun because he wasn’t selected to work on the docks. The scene is a little too over the top and I could see why it was cut. Probably the one I liked the most was the final deleted scene in which Jim narrates President Roosevelt’s powerful words with a montage of scenes. On the whole, I liked all six of the deleted scenes and definitely think they’re worth watching.
The next extra is “The Fight Card: Casting Cinderella Man.” This featurette runs about 23 minutes and focuses on why the makers of the film selected each actor to take on the various roles. We see why Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger and Paul Giamatti were attracted to the project. We also get to see Jim Braddock’s real life granddaughter Rosemarie DeWitt and how she ended up getting a small but important role in the film.
“The Man, The Movie, The Legend: A Filmmaking Journey,” is the next featurette on the DVD. This one is about 14 minutes and discusses Russell Crowe’s attraction to the script as well as how he finally convinced Ron Howard to direct the film. The producers of the film also talk about why Toronto was the ideal place to shoot the film. We also see cinematographer Salvatore Totino discuss how he wanted to create a gritty look for the film. The costume designer and set designer Wynn Thomas also discuss how they all worked together to give the film its depression era look.
The next extra is “For the Record: The History of Boxing.” This one is about 6 minutes long and generally discusses Angelo Dundee’s involvement on the film. Dundee talks about the training he had for the actors in order to capture the authenticity of boxing. Ron Howard and Dundee also talk about how they helped Giamatti with some of the boxing lingo.
“Ringside Seats,” is probably the most fascinating extra on the one disc edition of the DVD. Boxing historian and expert Norman Mailer, sits down with director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and screenwriting Akiva Goldsman to discuss the specifics of the real Braddock vs. Baer fight. It runs about 10 minutes and is great to see Mailer analyze each fighter’s strategies throughout the fight. As a huge fan of boxing, I can definitely say this is a great featurette to watch. I think huge fans of boxing (like myself) will really like this extra.
The final extra on the one disc edition of the film is “Jim Braddock: The Friends and Family behind the Legend.” It runs about 11 minutes and it discusses the story of the real Jim Braddock and his family. Jim’s son, Howard, also discusses his involvement in the film. The best part of this featurette is the actual footage of Jim Braddock and his family narrated by Braddock himself.
On a side note, the final product of the one disc edition of the film includes commentary on the deleted scenes by Ron Howard. The one disc edition also includes commentary tracks from Ron Howard, Akiva Goldman and Cliff Hollingsworth during the film. This feature will be reviewed soon.
The next set of extras is included in the gift set edition and not in the one disc edition of the movie:
The gift set edition includes a set of 10 more deleted scenes that runs about 15 minutes long. Almost all these scenes are just extensions of scenes we already see in the film. We see more into “Hooverville,” more pre and post fight scenes as well as more with the Braddock family. Big fans of the film will enjoy these additional scenes.
The next extra is definitely the highlight of the DVD package. This mini-documentary runs about 28 minutes and is titled “Russell Crowe’s Personal Journey: Becoming Jim Braddock.” There’s great footage of Russell on the set as well as him training at his home in Australia. The mini-doc is cut together very well and includes Russell’s own music in the background. We see Russell training and conditioning methods to not only get into Braddock’s body shape, but into boxing shape as well. Crowe’s dedication to the part is most notably seen when he dislocates his shoulder. We see actual footage of his surgery and rehab back into fighting shape. I don’t think there’s any other actor in the world that would put himself in such pain for a part in a film. We also see Russell training with Super Lightweight Champion Kostya Tszyu at his gym. The other actors in the film are also shown training at Russell’s farm. We also see Russell and his father pull some pranks involving crocodiles and snakes on a couple of the boxers. As I said, this extra is really put together nicely and is worth seeing.
“Lights, Camera, Action: The Fight from Every Angle,” is the next extra included on the gift set edition of the film. This one goes about 21 minutes and focuses on the research the makers of the film used to get the most authentic boxing look they could get. We see cinematographer Salvatore Totino and Ron Howard’s tricks they used to make the audience feel like they are actually in the ring. Totino and Howard discuss various angles and techniques in editing as well. The complex fight choreography is also discussed in this extra. Stunt choreographer Nick Powell talks about the different choreography used in each fight in the film.
The gift set DVD also includes two featurettes on the music for the film. Composer Thomas Newman discusses what inspired him to create the music for the film. The two featurettes run for about 8 minutes total.
The next featurette is titled “Human Face of the Depression,” which lasts about 6 minutes. Director Ron Howard discusses his fascination with the Depression era. The featurette includes a montage of photos and actual footage from that time period. We also see more into Braddock’s background and struggle during the Depression.
The next set of featurettes, entitled “Pre-Fight Preparations,” runs approximately 25 minutes total. We see more in depth discussion into the journey of the script and how Cliff Hollingsworth researched Braddock’s life to get his script as authentic as possible.
Production designer Wynn Thomas also discusses how they created the sets. Thomas and his crew discuss the difficulty in reconstructing Madison Square Garden in Toronto. We also see more on Russell Crowe’s transformation into Jim Braddock. We also see the make-up used on Russell to make him look as close to Braddock as possible. The last part is a short featurette on the “extras” used in the film. The filmmakers discuss the nearly 30,000 inflatable plastic dolls used to fill in all the seats for Madison Square Garden.
The final extra is probably the most fascinating to watch. It is the actual “Braddock vs. Baer” fight footage. It lasts about 31 minutes and is mostly highlights of the epic 15 round fight. It’s amazing to see actual footage of the fight and equally as interesting to see how the film’s version differs from the actual fight in some ways.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
As I mentioned earlier, this is not the 100% final product, but it was still enough to see that Universal has put together a great package. The commentary tracks will probably push my rating up to 5/5 stars for the special features once I listen to them. My overall rating will likely jump up to 5/5 stars as well. The 2 Disc Gift Set is most definitely worth owning for huge fans of the film as well as fans of Jim Braddock himself.