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Currentfilm.com Review:

A powerful and inspiring drama from director Clint Eastwood, "Invictus" stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The picture begins after Mandela's release from prison and rise to power. However, with great responsibility comes great challenges: the country is divided and in turmoil. Additionally, a decision is about to be made to end the country's rugby team.

Rather than letting a symbol of the country go quietly, he instead sees it as a chance to build a symbol of a country taking its first big steps towards recovery. Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), the team's captain, is initially skeptical about the entire enterprise, but the more the two leaders - one of a team, one of a country - get to know one another, Francois becomes more inspired and the team does start winning matches. He and the other players also start to believe in Mandela's vision of (and ability to) rebuilding the country.

The movie is certainly a traditional sports drama, but Eastwood blends a traditional sports story with an engaging, enjoyable historical drama. The film does seem to shy away from some of the grimmer aspects of the story in an attempt to have the whole feel moving and inspirational, but never enough that the film never feels manipulative thanks to Eastwood's steady, sure direction.

A few mild issues do present themselves - a couple of song choices do seem a tad heavy-handed and unnecessary, but otherwise the film feels genuine and sincere. I also found the film's pacing to be surprisingly brisk - while a couple of moments seemed like filler, the pair of hours otherwise moves along quickly.

Strong performances from Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon also propel the film. Freeman is at his best, offering a warm, intelligent and often powerful portrayal of Mandela. It's a riveting performance and one that was rightly nominated for an Oscar. Damon offers a subtle, moving performance, as well. Supporting performances are fine, but this is clearly Damon and Freeman's film.

Overall, "Invictus" remains one of the more enjoyable films I've seen recently - it's certainly another solid effort from Eastwood.

The set includes a Blu-Ray copy of the film and another disc with a DVD/digital copy combo disk.


VIDEO: "Invictus" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.40:1 (1080p/AVC). The presentation is quite nice, with only a few minor concerns presenting themselves throughout the running time. The presentation has a slightly harsh appearance, which looks to accurately present the intended look of the film. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, with only a few slight instances of softness. No edge enhancement, pixelation or print flaws are noticed. The presentation does show a little bit of grain, but this gives the presentation a film-like look. Colors are a little on the subdued side - although again, this appears to be the intended look of the picture. Overall, a top-notch presentation.

SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. The film's sound design is relatively muted, which is understandable given the material. Surrounds do come into play with some of the outdoor/crowd scenes, but the audio is otherwise spread across the front speakers. Audio quality is fine, with clear dialogue and no distortion or other faults.

EXTRAS: We get a picture-in-picture feature exploring the production, "The Eastwood Factor" (a look back at Eastwood's career), "Mandela Meets Morgan" documentary, as well as the "Matt Damon Plays Rugby" featurette.

The set includes a Blu-Ray copy of the film and another disc with a DVD/digital copy combo disk.

Final Thoughts: Overall, "Invictus" remains one of the more enjoyable films I've seen recently - it's another solid effort from Eastwood, with terrific performances from the two leads. The Blu-Ray presentation boasts first-rate image quality and fine audio quality. Recommended.

Film Grade
The Film B+
DVD Grades
Video B+
Audio: B
Extras: C-

DVD Information

Warner Brothers Home Entertainment
DTS-HD 5.1 (English)
133 minutes
Subtitles: English/
Rated R
Available At Amazon.com: Invictus (Blu-Ray)