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With a superior new format for home theater viewing, one necessarily must decide what films are worth repurchasing for a new collection?  Sure, there are plenty of fun films out there to showcase the superior image quality of high definition, but what about the films that just “deserve” to be part of any film lover’s collection ahead of most?

“CINDERELLA MAN”, while not popcorn fare, lending itself to repeated viewings, is a great film and deserves to be part of any film lovers’ collection.

There are problems with its “facts”, apparently the boxing champion, Max Baer, wasn’t the villain Ron Howard’s film intentionally makes him out to be.

With that aside, “CINDERELLA MAN” is a wonderful, inspiring film.  The tale of James J. Braddock’s rise, fall and then finding another shot at greatness, is told in a brilliant, compelling form here.  The viewer really feels Braddock’s story is “everyman’s” story.  The cast is terrific, and Russell Crowe proves again why directors are willing to put up with his embarrassing actions when the camera stops,…he’s brilliant here! Renee Zellweger is at her usual best, but many felt Paul Giamatti, as Braddock’s manager, was again, wrongly denied an Oscar.

The 2.35 image is noticeably superior to the standard dvd release, but it lacks the fine detail found in most of the other UNIVERSAL HD-DVD releases we’ve viewed thus far.  There’s an intentional grain consistent with theatrical showings, running through key scenes, but we noticed a softness throughout the film, that was actually distracting at times.

UNIVERSAL has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS mix. While we are annoyed with any UNIVERSAL release not fitted with DTS, the DOLBY DIGITAL mix is engaging and robust.  It’s not overly aggressive, but surrounds kick in well during boxing scenes and there’s a 360 degree atmosphere when most needed to boost the drama to any particular scene.

UNIVERSAL has included all of the extras from the previous “2 disc” edition onto one disc.  Three separate audio commentaries are offered, all of which should delight fans.  There’s also over a half-hour of deleted scenes!  For a change, some of these deleted scenes are so good, that one wishes they were left in the film!  Add to this a video journal from Crowe, featurettes and more, and there’s even more reason to consider this a worthy “early” edition to one’s “HD-DVD” library!