Secretariat Blu-Ray Review

“Another horse movie, and another uplifting drama.  Secretariat focuses on Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) who finds herself in charge of her ailing father’s horse ranch….”

Cover Art and Menus: 6/10
Both the cover and the menu for Secretariat feature a muted color palette that is used throughout the film, giving it a more realistic 1970’s period feel.  The cover shot is understated and therefore not as dramatic as it could be.  The menu features scenes from the movie with the score playing in the background.

Features: 7/10

  • Choreographing The Races – There were several horses used in this movie to play Secretariat, and this extra goes into detail about how they filmed the movie and what detail they focused on to make the horse racing seem true.
  • A Directors Inspiration – This is a great feature with Director Randall Wallace talking to Penny Chenery, the inspiration behind the movie.
  • Director Audio Commentary – Randall Wallace goes through in in-depth commentary here, and though it is a bit heady, it is a decent companion to the movie.
  • Secretariat Multi Angle Simulation – This is a neat inclusion, as there are interviews with several people as we get to see several different views of Secretariat racing as it is recreated.
  • 4 Deleted Scenes – There are about 10 minutes of deleted scenes, with commentary.
  • Heart Of A Champion – This 15 minute long feature focuses on Secretariat.
  • Music Video – A super strange inclusion here, as there is a music video for “Its Who You Are” by A.J. Michalka.
  • DVD Version Of The Movie – A standard DVD is included, but I would rather watch this one on Blu-ray.

The Movie: 7/10
Another horse movie, and another uplifting drama.  Secretariat focuses on Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) who finds herself in charge of her ailing father’s horse ranch, when she returns from California to the deep South with her family for her mother’s funeral.  She finds her father in poor health, and his horse ranch being taken apart.  Penny decides to forego returning to California with her husband and family in an effort to right the ship, and in doing so, she ends up having one of her horses sired to another excellent horse, thus birthing Secretariat, who Penny feels could be a champion racehorse.

Penny looks to train the horse, and hires the eccentric Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) who is not keen on helping until he finds out about Secretariat, and he decides to return from his own retirement from training to give it one last go.  The unlikely duo are confronted with even more issues when it is discovered that upon the death of her father, the estate owes more than $6 million in taxes.  Penny is not only confronted with the good ole’ boy mentality of the South, but she is forced to consider selling Secretariat just as he is starting to win some races.  Penny refuses, and is forced to leverage the horse by selling siring rights, thus placing her in a position where Secretariat must win the Triple Crown, which is next to impossible, of risk losing everything.

The movie itself is not short on fantastic moments, but it does suffer at times from a lack of focus.  Penny Chenery’s sacrifice to her family is shown at times, but I felt it could have been expanded on, and the rest of the movie just felt jolted at times.  The acting was well done, if not a bit over-dramatic.  John Malkovich brings a much needed touch of humor, and Nelsan Ellis as Eddie Sweat is a complete scene stealer (you can’t help but like all of the scenes that he is in.)  The movie is pretty good, even if it feels like many of the past horse movies that have been released.

The story of this racehorse is just incredible, and while they mainly focus on Penny Chenery (for good reason) the real star in the movie is the horse-racing, and I feel like they could have spent a bit more time on the horse itself.

Audio & Video: 8/10
The video here is for the most part sharp and detailed, and properly colored in muted tones for a nice atmospheric 1970’s feel (I thought we wore loud colors actually, so maybe the sepia colors just seem realistic due to the fact that the 1970s seem ancient.  The 2.35:1 aspect ratio features sweeping shots with lots of slow motion.  There is a hint of softness in some spots, but overall the picture is crisp.

The audio was tremendous, with my house shaking during some of the racing scenes.  Dialogue was well done, and there was ample use of the Surround Sound.

Value: 6/10
Secretariat is a good movie, but not a great movie.  The ending, even though we all know it is coming, is  very uplifting.  The acting is superb also, with great performances from both Diane Lane and John Malkovich, as well as a wonderful turn by Nelsan Ellis as Eddie Sweat, who really brings a warmth to the movie.  There are some decent extras included on the Blu-ray, and the presentation is good too.  Overall Secretariat is a good movie to enjoy, but it does suffer from some pacing issues and lack of focus at times.

Overall Score 7/10