Bump, Set, and Spiked Out Of Bounds

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It would not be American Hollywood without a little sports motivated movie to ring in the Spring season.  Tonight, yours truly starts his double decker review with a film that looks to be an inspiration to… high school volleyball players and their younger counterparts.  Based on true events, tonight’s review starts with a move that will hopefully bump, set, and spike your way to scoring high-points fun.  Tired of all the sports puns?  Yeah me too, so let’s get started with yet another Robbie Movie Review on:

 

Title:  The Miracle Season

Director:

Sean McNamara

Writers:

David Aaron Cohen,  Elissa Matsueda (screenplay)

Stars:

Helen Hunt,  Tiera Skovbye,  Erin Moriarty

 

 

LIKES:

The Pace:  Movies like this strike a chord for their key demographics, but to the rest of the world it can fall on deaf ears.  Fortunately for those who accompany tweens and teens, the movie isn’t that long and the pace is decent to keep things on point.  The editing was able to tighten what could have been a drawn-out film and as such gets you into the games/drama quick and then gets you right back out. 

 

The Inspiration:  Miracle, Remember the Titans, even Million Dollar Arm have proven effective in motivating the audience members (primarily aspiring athletes) to go an accomplish their dreams and goals…well some of us anyway.  The Miracle Season is yet another win on the board of motivation, utilizing a polished script, great visualization, and tailored acting to deliver the messages within.  Hope, remembering, inner strength, and will power are just some of the qualities that audience members can soak up. No matter how many times I see portrayals like this I get the feelings all over.

 

The Musical Score:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but a good musical score can really drive the point home for movies.  The Miracle Season rings strong in this category, bringing a powerful orchestra score to the game sequences to amplify the effects of an already high stress scene.  While the Katy Perry songs are cute, cuddly, and well-fitting for empowerment, it’s really the drum infused, high school spirited instrumental work that brings the full power of the movie.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  These movies seldom have big surprises, and this movie is no exception.  The trailers have already given away the major events, and given it is an inspirational sports’ movie, you can pretty much guess what will happen. No surprises, no major twists, not even suspenseful teasing…it’s just one predictable montage. 

 

Preachy:  Movies are famous for crossing the lines into this territory, it just depends on how powerful the monologue and speech are to provide the message.  Where Disney fueled movies have accomplished the dramatic delivery, this movie only managed to hit 50% in regards to the power of delivering the message.  Instead, the simplistic lines, overdramatic camera angles, and obvious direction take the movie down a semi-cheesy preach fest that eventually feels like it belongs on a day-time soap opera.  It delivers the message well enough but fails to deliver the magic that Disney has made famous.

 

Shotty Character Development:  Again, a good effort, but does not quite reach maximum work the movie could have really used.  The main characters of Kelly, Brez and Ernie (Moriarty, Hunt, and William Hurt respectively) get the most in terms of evolution, but past these characters the rest are very simplistic in regards to growing.  Most of the team are simply extras to fill in the team and allow for some volleyball shots, while others have a few lines that show promise of deeper involvement, but then taper off.  In a movie all about the players and the miracle they experienced, I was hoping for more depth in the team as a whole.

 

Editing Disproportionate: While the movie is fairly tight, I felt that the editing took out the wrong material of what I wanted to see.  The Miracle Season focuses on the slower parts of the journey, taking more time to show practice, talking, and preparation than the actual games.  When the big moments come up you might expect a few decent sequences of awesome volleyball action.  However, the movie instead traded these potentially exciting bouts for more tear-jerking moments of sulking, girl talk, and some unneeded detours that added little for me in the movie.  Sentimental?  Yes.  Hard hitting, sports prowess?  Not even close.

 

Anti-Climactic: All of these dislikes sum up to one things, anti-climactic.  The Miracle Season may be motivating, but it really lacks the exciting climax I was hoping to get in the movie.  Even in the final games, the montages experience a drought of any dramatic tension, presented as just a bland spectacle of spandex wearing warriors doing some cool choreography.  I do admit, there are some awe inspiring plays, but as a whole needed more to get the full effects.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Miracle Season is certainly a public service announcement about the power of hard work, hope, and teamwork.  It will serve as the fuel for future young females (especially athletes) to have a fantastic season, and push their limits.  As a collective work though, it needed to add more pizazz overall and really add the magic to their moments to create the tension they wanted.  In addition, more development of characters and team relationships could have taken this movie farther, but still it’s got the gusto to appeal to its demographic.  While an enjoyable movie, this film is best left to renting than the theater in my opinion, unless you need it for the big game to inspire the troops. 

 

My scores:

Drama/Sport:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

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Preachy Morals with Football Flare

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            Sports movies, a compromise of two great pastimes rolled into one blockbuster smash hit. We’ve had a variety of movies about the various sports from hockey to baseball, however the popular trend in the modern age seems to be football. Why football seems to be the sport where all miracles happen I don’t know, but nevertheless this weekend adds another work to the ever-growing library. My final review to close the weekend out is on When the Game Stands Tall. What does this movie have in store for you? Read on to find out.

 

We know the general formula for a team-based film: team gets built; they start looking good, hit a few obstacles, and come back stronger than ever. This movie is no different in the grand scheme of things, but changes the order slightly to give a little deviation from the norm. At the beginning we get introduced into the legendary De La Salle football team, a high school sports program that goes on a 151 win streak via live footage. From there we meet a few key players in the story, as the passing of the rights as well as the fundamental morals on which the program is built on are told. After that it becomes the familiar drama that seems to accompany this movie, though in this case it is about the Streak. The cultural shock rips away their pride, taking its toll on every member of the team that, when combined with a few other incidents revealed in the trailers, creates the “story”. It’s predictable, and lacks originality, as most football movies are, yet somehow the movie is still entertaining. This may be partly due to the simplistic comedy in the movie. A few of the players have some choice lines that are well timed to maximize their humor. There are also a few comical scenes as well, both in training and on game footage that gave me a few chuckles.

 

However, the story is not really the powerful part of the movie here, but more so the morals within it. The legendary coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) has a great approach to many of life’s lessons and struggles. Almost every line contains some teaching about finding yourself, understanding the true qualities to appreciate in the given circumstances. Fame, fortune, a winning streak are all addressed by this man and his staff as they try to drive home honest morals into the players. Yet the coach isn’t some holier than thou man, no he has some lessons to learn on his own as well and goes through the journey with his team. But the morals aren’t just loaded into one man’s dialogue, but also in the presentation of numerous scenes. From the combination of music and visuals, the audience will feel the full emotional force of the scene at hand. I found myself getting goose bumps during some of the more inspirational moments, a tribute to the strength movie magic can have. I have to admit that much of this movie is preachy and done in the manner to bring you into the locker room. However it got stale, and loss the shine it held at the beginning of the film, proving once again overuse of any movie aspect can lose effect.

 

As for the game scenes, they too are some of the better sequences I’ve experienced in a long time. Unlike other movies, where one gets glimpses of the game, When the game stands tall manages to create some decent games that are filled with action and flare. Again, music helps bring you into the moment, the symphony from the orchestra psyching you up and filling you with energy. What is even better for me in this film is that this game wasn’t just glorifying the main team, but actually showed their failings too. That’s right we get to see other teams scores in some well coordinated plays to give you a true game, and not a one sided blitz. Overall, these scenes are also dolled up with a lot of movie flare and zest, but it does add more entertainment to break away from the distraught in the drama. That isn’t to say there isn’t drama in the game itself, but it has a different twist to keep things interesting and balanced.

 

When the game stands tall is a decent sports film, still filled with the movie magic flare that Hollywood pumps into it. Those who lack emotion will be bored and find most of the movie cheesy and rather bland. While I didn’t mention the acting, due to the numerous characters, the cast in this film did a great job bringing the team to life, in particular Caviezel who stole most of the show. The biggest audience I can recommend coming to see this film are sports enthusiasts, those who love Remember the Titans, and drama lovers who actually enjoy embracing their emotions. This is a movie filled to the brim with pride, and should be a good fix for those awaiting the next sports masterpiece. However, I would recommend waiting for the movie to come out on DVD/Netflix ,because you can get longer games for practically free on your entertainment console, though I can’t guarantee as much excitement. My scores for When The Game Stands Tall are:

 

Drama/Sport: 7.5-8

Movie Overall: 7.0