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Russell Crowe reunites with Ron Howard for the first time since A Beautiful Mind. Well, who could blame them after the success of that film? The pessimist inside us all says do not get your hopes up, there is no way Ron Howard can deliver another jewel. All I have to say to that is, he did. This film was a knockout!

Russell Crowe's portrayal of a sports legend continues his streak of powerful cinematic performances. Cinderella Man is the story of James Braddock, a rising star in the boxing ring during the late 1920s. His rise up the ranks is halted as the stock market crash of 1929 destroys the American economy. With a string of losses, injuries, and the end of his big paydays, Braddock suffers the same fate that thousands of other Americans felt during the Great Depression.

After losing his life earnings, Braddock struggles to provide for his wife (Zellweger) and three children while never fully losing his dream of returning to boxing. Due to a last minute cancellation and a recommendation by his manager (Giamatti), Braddock gets one last chance at glory and marks his place in boxing history.

It is Crowe's portrayal of Braddock that makes Cinderella Man stand out from the rest of the historical sports movies. Braddock fights, not for glory, but to feed his family. Along the way, Braddock becomes a hero and gives hope to other people struggling to survive the depression.

Of course none of us are short on a list of movies whose central meanings amount to one word: hope. Yet despite that, this film flickers on and keeps the audience entranced the whole time. Crowe's accent and look is a perfect capsule of the time and his boxing style is a perfect copy of Braddock's. The boxing matches in Cinderella Man are hands down the best ever shown in film. They keep the audience on the edge of its seat, holding its breath. The film's raw cinematography draws you into the ring, and leaves you feeling like you're sitting there in person.

Besides Crowe and the boxing scenes, the other bright spot in this film is Paul Giamatti's portrayal of manager Joe Gould. He adds a light to this film with wiseass remarks that I believe no other actor could have done. This role is like no other he has ever had and Giamatti shows the heart and soul of this manager. He and Crowe had better chemistry than most wife and husband teams!

Director Ron Howard has a calling for heartwarming tales and always succeeds at creating a bond between the audience and the characters. The audience will find themselves cheering as Braddock battles in the ring. This film is a show for everyone. Those of us who aren't huge boxing fans love this for the story and those who are not fans of history will love this for the fights. Howard does not film this movie for everyone; he keeps true to the character. This film will inspire the audience to work hard to achieve their dreams, just like Braddock would have wanted.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; featurettes; DVD-ROM features..

* Audio Commentaries:
o With director Ron Howard
o Writer Akiva Goldsman
o Co-writer Cliff Hollingsworth
* Featurettes:
o The Fight Card - 23 minute look at the casting process.
o A Filmmaking Journey - 14-minute look at the film's production by Ron Howard
o For the Record: A History in Boxing - 7-minute look at the film's attention to detail from historical records. Hosted by Angelo Dundee.
o Ringside Seats - 9 minute look at the historical footage of the Braddock-Baer fight from 1935.
o Friends and Family Behind the Legend - An 11-minute visit with Braddock's friends and family.
o Kodak Commercial.
o Pre-Fight Preperations - 25-minutes of featurettes that look at the script, set design, Crow's training and making a convincing crowd
o Russell Crow's Personal Journey - 28 minute video diary that covers Crow's personal training for the film.
o The Fight From Every Angle - 22-minute exploration of the film's fight choreography
o Braddock vs. Baer Championship Fight - 32-minute replay of the actual June 13, 1935 championship fight.
o Photo Montage
o Music Featurette
o The Human Face of the Depression - 5-minute visit with Ron Howard as he discusses his own family's experience with the Great Depression.
* Deleted and extended scenes: 10 Scenes totalling 21 minutes with optional commentary by Ron Howard.

Number of discs: - 2 - Snapcase packaging with a printed scrapbook that includes photos and commemorative cards.