Michael Jordan To The Max

Michael Jordan To The Max (2000)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Michael Jordan
Extras: Commentary Track, Featurettes, Trailers, TV Spot, Talent Files

I’ve never been a big fan of basketball and the thought of watching a DVD on the sport sounds about as thrilling as, well, watching golf. But, as with most hard and fast rules, there’s always an exception and in this case his name is Michael Jordan. The man simply transcends the sport and remains the most recognizable face on the planet. What better subject for a film projected onto a six-story tall screen than the larger-than-life Air Jordan? While ’Michael Jordan to the Max’ is still showing in IMAX theaters, it’s also available on DVD from Fox.

The 46-minute film focuses on the Chicago Bulls’s 1998 season — one that ended in yet another NBA championship and the retirement of their marquee player. As an examination of Michael Jordan’s life and work, the film intercuts exciting game footage with insightful comments from family, friends, and fans. Among those interviewed are Dean Smith, Phil Jackson, Spike Lee, Bob Costas, and Deloris Jordan. In addition, the man himself sits down to talk about what it means to be Michael Jordan. Some of his comments may seem self-aggrandizing but, considering his fame and fortune, he has stayed remarkably humble and well-grounded.

’Michael Jordan to the Max’ is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Most IMAX movies are filmed with a 1.33:1 ratio as that is the shape of the IMAX screen. This appears to be a case similar to ’Fantasia 2000’ in which the feature is filmed, or perhaps matted, to a slightly wider scope to facilitate viewing in regular movie theaters. The end result on DVD is that a feature in this wider aspect ratio can be anamorphically enhanced. That issue aside, the picture itself is excellent. Colors are bold without becoming oversaturated, black levels offer a great deal of shadow detail, and sharpness is rock solid. As is to be expected for such a new feature, nicks and blemishes are non-existent. A bit of film grain pops up here and there but that’s about the only fault I could find with this image.

Audio comes in DD 2.0 and 5.1 English mixes as well as a DD 5.1 French mix. The 5.1 soundtrack is quite good and offers a fair amount of dynamic range. The ever-present music is well-balanced and only rises up to overwhelm the soundtrack in appropriate places. Deep bass kicks in regularly and the surrounds come alive with the ambiance of the basketball court. As is the case with most IMAX films, the soundtrack is stellar.

The DVD also offers a number of bonus features. First up is a filmmaker commentary that focuses more on Michael Jordan than on the technical aspects of creating the film — resulting in a discussion that is quite entertaining. Next is a behind-the-scenes featurette that gives some idea of how difficult it is to film an IMAX feature. Another brief featurette focuses on the techniques used to create the ’bullet-time’ slam dunk sequence. Rounding out the extras are two theatrical trailers, a TV spot, and talent files.

You don’t have to be a hoops fan to appreciate the phenomena that is Michael Jordan. ’Michael Jordan to the Max’ offers a glimpse at his remarkable life captured through his own eyes, the eyes of those around him, and a few strategically placed IMAX cameras. Fox’s new DVD release features exceptional audio and video and even includes a few nice extras. Michael Jordan fans will likely grab this disc up without a moment’s hesitation but even those, like myself, who don’t usually cotton to the game of roundball should find this to be an exciting, well-produced look at the most famous man in the world.