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Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot Blu-ray Review

Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot (2015) movie poster Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot

US Theatrical Release Date: July 10, 2015 (German Release: September 18, 2014) / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Sebastian Dehnhardt / Producer: Leopold Hoesch

Notable Interview Subjects: Tom Amberry, Kim Bohuny, Jörg Brunner, Kobe Bryant, Ernie Butler, Rick Carlisle, Vince Carter, Nick Creme, Mark Cuban, Michael Finley, Fabian Frühwirth, Holger Geschwindner, Holger Grabow, Jason Kidd, Sarah Melton, Jürgen Meng, Ursula Meth, Steve Nash, Don Nelson, Donnie Nelson, Thomas Neundorfer, Dirk Nowitzki, Helga Nowitzki, Jörg Nowitzki, Silke Nowitzki, Ulrich Ott, George Raveling, Peter Sartorius, Ingo Sauer, Helmut Schmidt, Pit Stahl, Marc Stein, David Stern, Lisa Tyner, Marvin Willoughby, Yao Ming

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Although he is 37 years old, Dirk Nowitzki still ranks among the NBA's top players. The 2007 MVP and 2011 champion and Finals MVP may no longer be a top tier talent, but both the stats and your eyes indicate that he remains the best player on what is, against expectations, one of the better teams in the league.
Father Time is undefeated and he's largely responsible for Kobe Bryant's mostly terrible final season and the newfound irrelevance of future Hall of Famers Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But Nowitzki is one of a few players who have defied the aging process, using skill and will to make up for declines in athleticism.

Nowitzki isn't just noteworthy because he's an all-time great basketball player. His career also holds significance as Europe's unofficial basketball ambassador. Born and raised in West Germany, Nowitzki followed in the footsteps of a few successful talents, including Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Vlade Divac, and Sarunas Marciulionis, Europeans who came to America and made names for themselves in the NBA. But Nowitzki would exceed even the highest accolades of those All-NBA, All-Star, and Sixth Man of the Year trailblazers. Within years of his 1998 debut with the Dallas Mavericks, Nowitzki became a bona fide superstar.

Now in his eighteenth season still with the Mavericks, Nowitzki has proven himself in every way. He led the Mavs to their first NBA Finals in 2006 and then their first championship in 2011, having to defeat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh's "Super Friends" Miami Heat against all odds to achieve the latter. Nowitzki has never been the quickest or most agile of players, but he has flourished with unprecedented play as undoubtedly the best outside shooting power forward in history at what is traditionally a center's height of 7 feet tall.

The documentary "Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot" profiles and celebrates German NBA star Dirk Nowitzki.

The 2015 documentary Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot celebrates the accomplished German, who picked basketball over two other sports in which he showed promise, handball and tennis. The film examines Nowitzki's tremendous work ethic and his special lifelong training under Holger Geschwindner, who runs what he calls the Institute of No Applied Nonsense in Bavaria. Footage shows a gangly teenaged Nowitzki towering over his peers and developing his talents. Barely twenty, he is drafted by the Mavericks and courted by both head coach Don Nelson and his son Donnie.

The film is more focused on Nowitzki as a driven individual than as a specific type of player or an enduring achiever. Interviews with a wide variety of relevant sources, including former coaches (both Nelsons and current Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle), teammates (Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Michael Finley), and Western Conference opponents (Yao Ming, Kobe Bryant) plus Geschwindner, family members, journalists, and friends put Nowitzki's unprecedentedly smooth transition into context. Basketball's spread to Germany is itself put into context by a passage on the sport's origins and its debut appearance in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

The documentary defines Nowitzki's NBA career, which began as a typically struggling rookie on an historically bad team, by two obvious and distinguished seasons: those in which he led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals to take on the Heat in both 2006 (unsuccessfully) and 2011 (successfully). The film peaks with the 2011 triumph, making it somewhat less than timely, as Nowitzki has gotten the Mavs in the playoffs in all but one of the years since, but never out of the first round (something unlikely to change this season).

A young Dirk Nowitzki sports a fashionable '90s hairdo. Kobe Bryant speaks highly of Dirk Nowitzki, whose work ethic and competitive nature he acknowledges.

Not cinematic or groundbreaking, Nowitzki plays like a PR piece. Fully supporting that feel is the fact that it is distributed in North America by Magnolia Pictures, the indie film studio of Mark Cuban,
who has also owned the Mavericks since 2000 (who is obviously among the interview subjects). Nowitzki's visits to sick kids in hospitals and his willingness to accept less than a max contract to assemble some talent around him for that 2011 championship run are prominently featured. Meanwhile, some minor scandals -- Nowitzki's engagement to a woman with many identities wanted on fraud and Geschwindner's troubles stemming from tax evasion -- are treated swiftly and inconsequentially. At least, they are addressed at all, something the men's respective Wikipedia entries fail to do.

After opening in Dirk's native Germany back in September 2014, Nowitzki made its US premiere at April 2015's Dallas International Film Festival before opening in four standard theaters in July to extremely modest returns. The film is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.78:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (German/English)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($26.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

As a new film should on Blu-ray, Nowitzki looks good here. The film measures 1.78:1, though licensed 1.33:1 clips play within the center of the frame. All of it looks sharp and clean, perhaps not too surprising given that Nowitzki started playing basketball in the '90s. The interview footage and little bits of high quality game footage shot are the film at its best looking, but the picture is consistently good throughout (with the exception, for some reason, of Jason Kidd's interview clips.) The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is lively at the end, but fine throughout. Much of the dialogue is in Nowitzki's native German, which means that the subtitle track translating them should be on by default (it's not).

Dirk Nowitzki visits the classroom where he used to get in trouble in this deleted scene. Dirk Nowitzki discusses his experiences as the center of a documentary film in this English language bonus interview.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's all-HD bonus features begin with a long section comprised of nine deleted scenes (35:10).

They present a section of Geschwindner training Africans, more of Dirk's adolescent home movies, more on Nowitzki's experiences as an NBA rookie, more Steve Nash comments, more on the changes brought by Mark Cuban's ownership, and a section about the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation.

Next up comes a short English language interview of Dirk Nowitzki (12:56). He discusses his experiences as a documentary subject and movie star, his family's participation, seeing it at the premiere, his reluctance to make the movie but his gratitude at doing it, and some of the depictions captured in the film.

Nowitzki's theatrical trailer (1:51) is kindly preserved.

Finally, "Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment" repeats the four trailers and two ads with which the disc opens. They promote Skin Trade, Kill Me Three Times, The Deadlands, Sunshine Superman, Chideo, and AXS tv.

The creative main menu plays sound and video clips from the film alongside a close-up of the cover's steely-eyed hero shot. The disc does not resume playback or support bookmarking.

No inserts accompany the full-color disc within the unslipcovered eco-friendly keepcase.

A smiling Dirk Nowitzki lets his mouthguard hang during one of his 1,300 and counting games played for the Dallas Mavericks.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Admirably researched and thoroughly compiled, Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot nonetheless feels a tad underwhelming with its simple, flattering portrayal of the NBA's greatest European basketball player to date. There isn't enough personality to win its subject new fans, but those who already admire the enduring, soft-stroked big man should appreciate this lightweight, straightforward portrait.

Magnolia's Blu-ray offers fine picture and sound plus a solid 50 minutes of bonus features.

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Reviewed January 11, 2016.



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