Yes, Million Dollar Baby is a damn good movie, chock-full of fantastic performances, smart and insightful wriitng, a solid handful of fantastic boxing sequences, and a narrative left-turn that comes out of nowhere and smashes into you like a Mack truck.
This is a fantastic movie.
You don't need me telling you how phenomenally cool Clint Eastwood is, both as an actor and as a filmmaker -- but I will. This is a guy who went from starring in Italian cowboy movies to becoming one of Hollywood's premiere storytellers. The guy's done a truckful of bona-fide masterpieces, and Million Dollar Baby is only his latest piece of cinematic gold. (Unforgiven is still my favorite, though!)
Presenting his tale in crisp and efficient fashion, Eastwood is also smart enough to hire the best of the best, which explains why you'll see folks like Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman in leading roles; Eastwood wants to work only with the best, and (needless to say) he does precisely that.
Adapted from a series of stories by F.X. Toole (by superlative screenwriter Paul Haggis), Million Dollar Baby is not so much "about" boxing as it's about the power of the human spirit. That sounds like a pretty corny statement, I know, but the film takes a shocking left turn at the end of Act II, and you slowly begin to realize that Eastwood has a lot more on his mind than just a "big, rousing boxing finale."
Million Dollar Baby is gruff yet touching, smart and somewhat sweet, and an absolute heartbreaker through and through. I firmly believe the movie deserves all the praise it's earned thus far ... and a whole lot more.
Born to Fight is a 20-minute featurette full of cast & crew interviews, while the 14-minute Producers Round 15 is pretty much more of the same, only it focuses a bit more on Mr. Toole's source material and the methods in which the stories were translated for the big screen. The final featurette is a 25-minute sit-down called James Lipton Takes on 3, which sees the ever-annoying Mr. Lipton moderating a round-table discussion with Eastwood, Freeman, and Swank.
Frankly I was expecting a bit more in the supplement department than roughly one hour of various interview / chit-chat segments, but each one offers some solid insight on how Million Dollar Baby got made, so I'm not complaining all that loudly. (A cast & crew commentary would have been the icing on the cake, though!)