The Natural (1984)

The Natural © TriStar Pictures. All Rights Reserved.
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Released:  Friday, May 11, 1984  
Length:  137 minutes
Studio: TriStar Pictures
Genre: Drama/Suspense
Rating: The Natural is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaSome material may not be suitable for children.


Synopsis

Nothing was going to stop Roy Hobbs from fulfilling his boyhood dream of baseball superstardom. Robert Redford stars in this inspiring fable that begins when 14-year-old Hobbs (Redford) fashions a powerful bat from a fallen oak tree. He soon impresses major league scouts with his ability, fixing his extraordinary talent in the mind of sportswriter Max Mercy (Robert Duvall), who eventually becomes instrumental in Hobb's career. But a meeting with a mysterious woman shatters his dream. Years pass and an older Hobbs reappears as a rookie from The New York Knights. Overcoming physical pain and defying those who have a stake in seeing the Knights lose, Hobbs, with his boyhood bat, has his chance to lead the Knights to the pennant and to finally fulfill his dream.

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The Natural images are © TriStar Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Natural 4K Ultra HD Review


Thirty-five years ago director Barry Levinson (Rain Man) adapted Bernard Malamud's 1952 novel into a major motion picture entitled The Natural.  For fans of America's pastime – baseball – the story is a beautiful telling of the game and life from one player's view.  For anyone else, it is a tale of human nature, triumph against the odds and an emotional journey of one man's life and his "calling".  Starring Robert Redford (All The President's Men) and Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction), The Natural sparked the imagination of many and offered something for almost everyone.  In celebration of the film's anniversary, it is being made available this month on 4K for the first time.

Roy Hobbs (Redford) had a talent for baseball.  At 19 years of age, he has the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs and boards a train leaving behind his girlfriend, Iris (Close).  Once there, Hobbs strikes out one of the greatest baseball players, "The Whammer" (Joe Don Baker; GoldenEye), which garners him some attention as the new, up and coming pitcher.  With that comes interest from a beautiful lady named Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey; Black Swan) who invites Hobbs to her hotel room and then proceeds to shoot him when he confirms that he aims to be "the best that ever lived".

Fast forward sixteen years and Hobbs is playing for a minor league team that is in last place, the New York Knights.  His manager though is reluctant to let Hobbs play thinking he is a has been.  Hobbs learns that the manager will lose his interest in the team if they don't win the pennant and as he starts helping the team to win, Hobbs is approached by the team owner to throw the season to which he refuses.  At the same time, Iris shows up and informs Hobbs that her son's father lives in New York but, of course, Hobbs doesn't make the connection.  As the team plays in the final game, Hobbs begins to bleed from his old gunshot wound as he helps the team to victory while Iris and their son look on from the stands.

The cast is wonderful and has plenty of terrific material to work with from this great script.  Redford was at the top of his game (no pun intended) when he made this film and he is surrounded by heavy hitters (pun intended).  Close and Hershey along with Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) are all excellent compliments to Redford and Robert Duvall (The Godfather) and Wilford Brimley (Cocoon) round out the cast nicely.

The 4K Blu-ray video quality is very good with a nice uptick.  While there is a graininess to some of the film, it is intentional to give the movie that 1950's feel.  The Dolby Atmos audio is also an improvement from the 2010 Blu-ray release. The crack of the bat and the crackle of the thunder are deep and true.  The combo pack offers previously released extras including the DIrector's Cut as well as the following: Theatrical Trailer, When Lightning Strikes: Creating The Natural, Extra Innings, Clubhouse Conversations, A Natural Gunned Down: The Stalking of Eddie Waitkus, Knights in Shining Armor: The Mythology of "The Natural" and The Heart of The Natural.

Even though the content has been previously released, the exceptional transfer to 4K makes buying this film worthwhile.  It's Redford in one of his best roles, surrounded by talented actors with striking visuals and an entertaining and well-done script.  It's also classic Levinson and showcases the director's work beautifully.

You can't go wrong adding this title to your home entertainment collection.  It's a home run!

Grade: A-

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