Sugar Blu-ray: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

It is a metaphor for trying to achieve the American Dream even when that dream carries with it a lot of baggage.
  • OVERALL
    4.0
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Picture
  • Sound
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
It is uplifting seeing such a well made movie.
THE BAD
Why do movies like this barely get released theatrically and on DVD?
THE FEATURE
Sugar is not a typical baseball story. It examines the story of 19 year old Miguel Santos (Algenis Perez Soto). In trying to make a better life for his family, he goes from the Dominican Republic to the United States to play in the minor leagues. However, as much as Miguel may love the game he struggles when he lands in Iowa. There is a seismic shift in his life with the culture, the language and the detachment he feels being away from home. Add to this that he carries not only his own financial future but the future of his family on his shoulders, and it soon becomes clear that this movie is not just about playing baseball. It is a metaphor for trying to achieve the American Dream even when that dream carries with it a lot of baggage.

The difference between a movie like this and The Rookie (starring Dennis Quaid) is that Miguel Santos has nothing to go back to if his dream doesn't work out. Having left his home and family behind, he is someone who is constantly up against a wall as far as the odds being stacked against him. Directors/Writers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck have made yet another great movie about people in impossible situations just trying to cope.
THE EXTRAS
Deleted Scenes

The deleted scenes they have put on this release look good enough. They are in standard definition but they look really good here. Sometimes standard fare on a Blu-ray disc doesn't play as sharp or as nicely as it should. It can end up being blocky and almost choppy in its presentation. I didn't notice too much of that here. The scenes themselves were interesting but I don't think they opened up Miguel Santos story that much more. The scenes mainly seemed like they were excised because they ultimately took up time that detracted from the story being told. Also, it doesn't seem like they were having as much fun making this film as they did making Half Nelson.

Play Beisbol!: The Dominican Dream

Making Sugar and Casting Sugar

I have put these two featurettes together simply because they are so similar and they cover a lot of the pieces of the moviemaking process. The Making Of featurette looks at how this movie came together. They talk to the cast and crew and we hear general anecdotes of what it's like to shoot a baseball movie, and how it is always hard to work with small amounts of money to bring any story to the big screen. Casting Sugar covers exactly what the title says it does. I always find this process to be somewhat tedious and I always wonder why filmmakers put it on their discs. Afterall, so much of movies is that suspension of disbelief. Why in the world would I want to see the actor behind this character, when there's more mystique just seeing him as the character?
THE VIDEO
1080p High Definition / 1.78:1. This film looked really sharp on Blu-ray. It was shot by Andrij Parekh and edited by Anna Boden. It is a very tight feel and the images seem almost airy. I got the impression that Fleck, Boden and every one else involved was trying to make this film capture the sense of awe that Santos would seemingly feel being placed in a situation like this. There were a few moments where the images seemed to get an almost dark grey cast over them, but I didn't notice this that much. There are a lot of colors in this movie. It seems like the team behind it also wanted it to have a wide palate, thus representing the many colors of the U.S.. I don't know that Iowa has ever been made to look as pretty as it is here.
THE AUDIO
Spanish, Portuguese Dolby TrueHD 5.1. English and Spanish stereo. Subtitled in English, Spanish, French Portuguese and Spanish. The audio on this was good from a musical perspective. I say that because so much of this movie is in another language. The sound was solid but due to the nature of this film (it's smaller scope, story and subject matter) it didn't really need to have that much kick behind it. All in all, everything sounded about as good as I expected it to here.
THE PACKAGE
Miguel Santos stands in front of a packed ballpark with fireworks going off above him. The back cover gives us 5 images from this film, critic's quotes, a description of what Sugar is about, a Special Features listing, technical specs and a cast list.
THE FINAL WORD
Sony Pictures is usually very adept in how they bring out a movie like this. They start small and then build out the picture as the word of mouth spreads. This doesn't seem like it happened at all here. It is as if they dropped this film in the marketplace and just thought that it would perform. I am not sure what the budget was but something tells me that nobody broken even with a gross just over $1 million dollars.

How in the world did the independent movie scene get in this shape? I am not talking about the quality of the movies because we seem to be at a point in history where the scene is thriving. There are a lot of independent films being made and many of them are good. However, there doesn't seem to be a moviegoing public to support them. Many of them barely get released and former ancillary markets like cable TV, DVD, etc., no longer seem to offer the cash flows they once did. Perhaps there are just too many films?

Whatever the case, Sugar is the kind of movie that makes me happy people like Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck can get their movies made at all.

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Comments (1)

  1. 313td

    Nice review.

    5 years agoby @313tdFlag