Director Peter Berg's penchant to go too far out with camera movements has really hindered most of his films. While some of this dizzying motion camera acrobatics still pops up in "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS," it's easily his best film. A lot of this has to do with the actors and screenplay, and "some" restraint from Berg.
"FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" revolves around the Permian Panthers High School Football team of Western Texas, and their attempt to win their fifth championship season in a row. However, like all great films, in "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" football is a metaphor for anything else in life one holds important and values. "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" manages to transcend the "sports film" genre, while still offering enough insight into the game, to please sports fans and newcomers. Billy Bob Thornton as the team's coach, does what he does best, he assumes the role, without letting anyone think he's acting. There's never a scene wherein one thinks they're watching Bill Bob, rather than Gary Gaines, and his lines are powerful and often stirring.
Small-town life, relationships, disappointments and inspirational messaging, have seldom been handled in a commercial film, as well as they've been addressed in "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" and it's the kind of film one can easily revisit many times.
UNIVERSAL has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. Colors are solid throughout, and in scene-to-scene comparisons with the previous HD-DVD presentation, this blu-ray offers deeper blacks, providing better detail in darker scenes. There's consistent grain present, but it's intentional, offering a gritty feel to the film's atmosphere without feeling intrusive. While detail is typically impressive, and there are some great moments wherein the image has the "jump-off-the-screen" depth impact one hopes for with blu-ray, these aren't consistent, and "FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS" doesn't stand up to the scrutiny of the best UNIVERSAL blu-ray releases available. It's good, but not great.
UNIVERSAL has presented a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which is notably better than the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on dvd, and Dolby Digital Plus of HD-DVD. It's an aggressive mix, and while the game scenes offer the best use of discrete and panning effects, even more subtle ambient effects are fully realized with this mix and its wonderful lossless fidelity. A REFERENCE QUALITY MIX!
All of the previous extras have been carried over for this release, including a great commentary with Berg and writer Buzz Bissinger. Deleted scenes are offered, but none of them were essential viewing. The featurettes, especially "PETER BERG DISCUSSES A SCENE IN THE MOVIE," are certain to please the film's fans, whom might not typically look at the extras.