The last film Clooney directed was Good Night, and Good Luck, which was one of my favorite films of 2005, so I had high hopes when I sat down to watch Leatherheads. Regrettably, I was very disappointed. The early years of the NFL provided a great backdrop for what I thought would be a football movie, but it turned into a sappy romantic comedy without many laughs. Its only saving grace was the chemistry between Clooney and Zellweger, which is genuine, but the pacing was insufferably slow.
Fortunately, the video presentation is quite good. The Roaring 20s come to life with an AVC encode offering rich color saturation, tremendous detail, and rock-solid black levels. Shadow delineation is phenomenal, especially during the second act when Connolly and Littleton are walking through downtown Duluth and when Connolly and Rutherford have a "discussion" by the train tracks.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is a middling effort with a very basic sound design. The surround channels are rarely utilized for anything other than ambience, and the front soundstage is collapsed toward the center speaker. Granted, this is a dialog-rich track, and there are no issues with intelligibility. The score is loaded with music from the period, offering the only bright spot of an otherwise unremarkable soundtrack.
The bonus features don't offer much in the way of entertainment, unless you're a fan of director's commentaries. The supplements include an audio and video (PIP) commentary from Clooney and producer Grant Heslov. There is also a separate PIP "U-Control" track with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
Leatherheads has its moments, but they are few and far between. The video is outstanding, but the ho-hum DTS-HD MA soundtrack doesn't bring much to the table. Fans of Clooney and Zellweger may want to check it out, but I would rent it.
Release Date: September 16, 2008
Movie: 5 out of 10
Picture: 9 out of 10
Sound: 6 out of 10
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 Amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector