Judge Gordon Sullivan was a shrimp-eating champion on Super Bowl Sunday.
There are a few cities in America that have a truly unique vibe. These are cities where, once visited, a traveler could be led blindfolded onto a random street and, upon opening their eyes, immediately know what city they were in. Boston is one of those cities, so is San Francisco. In some ways, though, the ultimate American city is New Orleans, with its mix of French and Spanish influences, its place as a commerce center in the Mississippi Delta, and its seemingly contradictory pride at being both an American city but also apart and different as the center of Creole culture. Few, in fact, would deny that New Orleans has a vibrant culture that allows art and music to flourish, but compared to its cousins like Boston and San Francisco, New Orleans has always lacked one thing: a winning football team. All that changed in the 2009-10 season, as the New Orleans Saints started the season strong with thirteen straight wins and ended with their first Super Bowl championship. It was a tremendous physical and emotional journey that fans can now relive with New Orleans Saints: NFL Super Bowl XLIV Champions, an 80-minute look at the Saints' winning season.
NFL Super Bowl XLIV is a pretty straight look at the Saints' 2009-10 season, from the signing of Reggie Bush to the parades that accompanied their Super Bowl Triumph. It's obviously slanted towards the Saints, and it's pretty obvious (even to those who might not have heard before watching this DVD) that they're going to triumph in the end. There are occasional moments of interview footage culled from news broadcasts, but the majority of the running time is devoted to the games themselves. We get at least a few highlights from pretty much every game of this remarkable season as we see the journey of the Saints towards the Super Bowl. I can't say I've seen any other NFL Films productions, but from what I gather by seeing their trailers, this is a pretty standard look at a winning season.
The film does two things particularly well. The first is focusing on the football. This DVD basically plays out like one long highlight reel, and it really makes the Saints look good. I can't speak for a full game, but in these 78 minutes, the team is on. The passing looks tight and accurate, the runners look like they can't be stopped, and the defense crunch their opponents with sometimes startling power. Even the moments where they screw up seem epic in context. For people who just want to see a great team at the peak of their game, then this DVD provides almost an hour of on-the-field footage.
The other thing this DVD does well is maintain anticipation. I knew what was going to happen and I knew the Saints' record for the season before the first frame rolled, but the voiceover and quick pace of the film kept me on the edge of my seat surprisingly well. It should also be no surprise that a film entitled Super Bowl XLIV spends more and more time on the team as the big game approaches. After we're briefly introduced to the Saints' not so stellar history, each game gets successively more time until the final showdown. It's a nice structure that builds tension and shows just how emotional it must have been for Saints fans to experience their team's first Super Bowl victory.
My only serious complaint about the documentary is that all the work seems to have been put into the editing of the film from existing sources: on-the-field footage and the occasional press conference. Unlike the similar Yankees World Series DVD, this one features no on-camera interviews with the players after the fact. We get little hints at how the team feels, but an extended postmortem would have been nice. I also would have liked a closer look at some of the between-game goings-on. How did they train in the middle of a winning season? How did they prepare themselves for their various opponents? Also, more input from Saints' fans would have been good as well. How did they react to the thirteen-game winning streak and ultimate victory? That would certainly make it a different film, but one that would be even more fun to watch.
As a DVD package, New Orleans Saints is as solid as a linebacker. The video and audio are broadcast quality, but that's fine for this material. The extras somewhat address my concerns about the main feature, with extra interview moments, the halftime show (with The Who), some post-game ceremonies, and a closer look at Anthony Hargrove.
This is one DVD that pretty much every Saints fan will want to own. Only time will tell if the team can parlay this season into a revitalized club or not, but in either case this DVD will allow anyone to relive this magical season again and again.
Who dat? That's the Super Bowl XLIV Champions, not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
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