Whether you like them or not, documentaries have become mainstream genre of film, whether they contain a political statement on an important issue, or just aim to inform the casual viewer of some unknown culture. Paul Hough's "The Backyard" fits into the latter of those categories, with a ruthless look at Backyard Wrestling. The phenomena has been around for decades, yet only recently has become more and more popular.
The film follows the tried and true documentary formula, offering a slew of interviews with various backyard wrestlers and relatives, along with some interesting interviews with WWE legend Rob Van Dam. The film also has a number of lengthy fight scenes, which brings us to the film's double-edged blade.
The fight scenes in the film are viciously violent. While this may attract some viewers, it can also turn quite a few off. I'm a veteran of the horror film genre, and usually gore doesn't really phase me, but there were certain scenes in the film that did make me feel ill.
That being said, the movie is very enjoyable. A large portion of it focuses on one wrestler in particular, The Lizard, and his story is heart-warming and by the end of it you genuinely care for his future in wrestling.
Image Entertainment has outdone themselves on the transfer of this film. It is presented in it's original 1.33:1 full-screen aspect ratio, meaning you have black bars on the left of the right of the image. The quality of the transfer is amazing, despite it's low-budget source material. There are some instances of grain due to limitations of the media the film was shot on, but for the most part the image is crisp and clean. Colors and black level range from very good to poor, but once again this is due to the limitations of the original source material.
The sound is very crisp, and sounds good with both headphones and on the PSP's speakers. Dialog is easy to hear, and is never overshadowed by ambient background noise or the soundtrack. However if you plan on watching the movie on the go in noisy places, remember to pack a pair of headphones as the film offers no subtitles.
However while the disc has no subtitles, it does have some special features, which are usually sorely missing on most UMD releases. Included are about 13 minutes of deleted scenes, which are enjoyable but only really interesting to fans of wrestling, in particular Rob Van Dam. Also on the disc are three trailers for other documentaries, which are interesting if you're a fan of the genre. However there is no separate menu for these features, and selecting "Special Features" from the main menu plays all the bonus features on the disc, only allowing you to skip through them with the next chapter button.
Image Entertainment has put together a solid UMD release for "The Backyard," showing that a movie doesn't have to be a Hollywood blockbuster to get a release on the growing media format. If you're a fan of wrestling, or just enjoy documentaries, I would definitely recommend picking this one up.