The Way Back To Realistic Drama

           The Way Back Poster


Sports movies, they take on all sorts of shapes, sizes, and budgets, as studios try to tell inspiring stories through the world of athletics.  Tonight, the man of many faces and struggles, is recruited to help bring that face up to hopefully inspire millions to overcome the obstacles life throws at them.  Yet, in the modern age, balancing that budget and handling the politics gets in the way of execution of the movies and with trailers being master edit pieces one can only wonder what is in store.  So I’m going to do my best to give you my thoughts as I review:


Movie:  The Way Back (2020)



Gavin O’Connor


Brad Ingelsby (screenplay), Gavin O’Connor


Ben AffleckJanina GavankarMichaela Watkins




  • Inspirational Tale
  • Realism
  • Piano Work
  • Seeing Influence At Times
  • Affleck’s Acting



  • Disjointed Plot Elements
  • The Realism at Times
  • The Pacing Of the Movie
  • The Other Characters
  • The Lack of Movie Heart At Times
  • The Masking Of A Sports Movie




Inspirational tales can be seen even in the simplest actions/speeches (just look at social media tales) and in a big screen adaptation, The Way Back accomplishes the goal.  Jack’s (Affleck) story is one that many people suffer from in the form of PTSD being handled by booze, and those men and women who have to work to find the light.  It’s a convincing performance that takes the realism of life and layers it thick into the film at hand with simple, direct dialogue and scenes that show that struggle.  An engaging piano score in the back leads to helping add on to the struggles of someone dealing with personal struggles, not really as a major orchestra or pop hit playing, but instead simplistic pieces that dwindle in the background.  The combination of these elements, alongside some grey camera filters, helps put you in the mindset of coping with trauma, and potentially finding the healthier means to get better and move from the incident.  I enjoyed the results, by seeing some of the players’ lives change, subtle changes in character that gradually got better, and the potential foreshadowing it brought (again goes with the realism).  Yet, the biggest like is the acting from Affleck himself.  As the central, and pretty much sole focus of the movie, Affleck takes his personal struggles and gives you a very good performance.  It’s not an original role, it’s not a massive role, it’s not even an Oscar role, but it’s a realistic figure that you can relate to in some form or manner.  Seeing the downfall, the remorse, the suffering in his face slowly change depending on the moment is a strong display of his acting skills to make this sort of adaptation of his life.  If you like realistic characters like this, who aren’t flashy or dramatically designed, you should be okay with this film.


   Yet, the trailers have not done this movie justice in how they are selling it, which is going to be the core of my dislikes for this movie.  It starts with the plot elements, The Way Back sort of crams a lot of life events and stories into 1.5 hours and watching this I felt it’s very rushed components.  The side stories that try to integrate Affleck’s characters are not very detailed or integrated, as they help add key moments to drive Jack’s life.  Unlike other movies like Hoosiers and Remember the Titans, the Way Back really drops the ball in the big picture aspect, choosing to hover around the gravity of Affleck’s character.  Realistic and potentially artistic mindset of a PTSD patient aside, the realism actually took away from this movie for me at times in how it limited not only the story, but the other pieces of the film.  First, the pacing.  The Way Back is not the most even paced film with slow moments taking reign in between big peaks of excitement.  While it is not the slowest movie for me, the consistent blandness does not make for the most entertaining film, relying on you the audience member to appreciate the realism at hand.  Second is the other characters of the film.  Having to do more with focusing one character than the others, the film fails to really make the other characters a worthwhile investment.  It feels like the Mighty Ducks film when we are just looking at Bombay alone, rather than having the team interact with him and drive him to be better.  As such, outside of some funny moments and a few grains to show what Jack’s actions sewed, the rest of the cast gets sidelined to focus on the issues at hands.  Now again, this realism is important for the artistic style, but the trailers sort of promised the magical sports treatment that I do rather enjoy seeing.  That’s where point three comes in is the lack of movie heart/magic that these films have come to enjoy.  Think back to your favorite moments of Remember The Titans, Hoosiers, or Miracle, those goose bump raising sequences where magic, planning, and over dramatization get you into the full energy of the movie and goes the extra mile.  That’s absent in this film, which was disappointing given how they could have designed some of the recovery moments with Affleck and the other characters.  Yet, the lack of magic is missed the most in the sports scenes.  I’m a victim of loving those overdone sequences of the good guys fighting the goliaths, with creative plays, dialogue to spur on the competitors, and the energy of being part of that fight.  Instead, this movie just shows brief clips of the players doing typical drills/shooting only to stop and show the score of the game in a rather boring and disappointing montage.  Even the big game sort of drops the ball, finally showing a little more of the game, but still not in the manner that other sports film icons have done.  It leads to again an offset pace and rather boring climax, bogged down again by the focus on one character.  That was the biggest disappointment is not integrating the sports part of his life with the personal and thus the disconnecting continued to shine through.




            The Way Back proves you can make a movie portraying pertinent issues with sports practice and not have the Hollywood effects drown it out.  You just have to make sure you are expecting it.  This film succeeds in the realism of portraying one man struggling to find his way back from a terrible time in life, but through work, patience, and support can get better.  It accomplishes the inspirational story in a calmer manner and using the central focus of Affleck, whose acting brings this role to life, you will be pleased with the story presented.  Yet, if you go in here looking for another sports film integrated with life lessons… you may disappointed.  So many disjointed side plots get the realistic treatment of being haphazardly integrated and not fully fleshed out.  It leads to uneven pacing for me, alongside underutilized secondary characters and the relationships that could have formed with the central character.  The realism also seems to take the entertainment magic away, especially when it comes to the sports moments that you might be coming to see.  Don’t expect drawn out games and those heroic moments that you’ve become accustomed to my friends, because they are not here.  As such, the final thing is that the inspirational tale is here for this film, but the problem is other movies have done this better like Remember the Titans, Miracle, and Hoosiers.  Given all this though, if you want realistic acting and a tale of succeeding, then this guy suggests a visit to the theater, but otherwise hold out for home viewing on this one.


My Scores are:


Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.5


A Different War Than Expected

Bennett's War Poster


On a weekend before a holiday, sometimes the movies run a little dry and this weekend seems to be following that trend. Tonight’s movies is about Bennett’s War. Have not heard of it?  Don’t worry, neither had I and if it had not been for a poster in my theater this film would have escaped my attention.  So what is this little advertised movie hold under the hood?  That’s where I come in with the hopes of giving some observations to help you decide if you want to make or break the bank seeing it.  Let’s get cracking as we look into:


Movie: Bennett’s War (2019)



Alex Ranarivelo


Alex Ranarivelo


Michael RoarkTrace AdkinsAli Afshar





  • Short Run Time
  • Decent Acting
  • Inspirational
  • Funny At parts
  • Motocross scenes




  • Felt sort of like an incomplete Story
  • Predictable
  • Took a While To Get to Motocross Scenes
  • Masked as An Army Flick
  • A Little More Character Involvement needed




A movie like this holds the potential to be an undiscovered treasure or a complete disaster.  For the most part this War had some features to it that I certainly found worth their weight in proverbial gold.  For one the short run time is nice, allowing for a chance to be a concise tale that was not too diluted by drama and bloated by long, drawn out moments that these unknowns sometimes take.  Next up the acting to which the stuntmen themselves probably take first place, but in regards to the actors the podium is taken by Ali Afshar and Allison Paigewhose characters turned out to be fun, dynamic groups that took the simplified parts and rode with it. Sure the other characters played their parts, but did not have quite the engaging personality these too did. Now these tidbits aside, the movie is another one of those inspirational flicks that are all about motivating people to face the odds and conquer their obstacles to achieve their dreams.  It uses the parlor tricks of a deep soundtrack, close camera angles, and the just the right amount of writing and acting to sell the scene and try to get some goosebumps stirring up.  Yet, the movie does not become a sob fest much to the chagrin of those looking for the latest religious drama. Bennett’s War manages to integrate some humor into the mix, primarily through Afshar’s character who like Jughead out of Archie Comics knows how to say the right thing at just the right time.  The biggest selling point though is the motocross scenes that are just waiting to fill the theater with the high definition sounds of the motor bikes.  The movie really harps on the dirt busting goodness of the sport and while it seems out of place, brings the excitement and bang that sports movies accomplish, especially when accompanied by some heavy rock.  The montage approach may be a little limited and cutting corners, but the two biggest races manage to find the balance and stride we love to see.


However, the movie sort of shows its limitations fairly well, more so in the form of the story telling itself.  For one thing it’s predictable, with too many of the haphazard tricks given away to show what is coming.  The writing, the foreshadowing, and the obvious overdramatized components that attempt to mislead do little to waiver one from the path.  Second, the film is masked as an army story either in the form of war itself or the recovery from the battles they face.  The opening uses the army as a means to explain the situation, but after that much of the army story is placed in storage for the sports path of the movie.  If the false advertisement does not get you, then perhaps the character involvement will get you instead.  Bennett’s war both accomplishes and fails to integrate all its characters in the fact that nearly every character serves its place, yet does not have the full-on inclusion I think they were looking for.  Adkins character in particular seemed to offer a lot more potential, but sort of crashed out like a second-string country song. The wife hits her moments but yet sort of beats around the bush and becomes a ploy for girl power instead of the aspect I enjoyed the most from her.  And as for another character, integrated at a decent moment, but then again lost to the wind.  Perhaps this is due to the motocross scenes which get a large amount of screen time than you might expect.  While I do rather enjoy these moments, the film sometimes sacrifices too much to get them in there.  Sometimes it was character development/story, and other times not enough heat in the races, but Bennett’s War is one of those I would have liked to see expand on more and find the balance I’ve seen these movies accomplishWhich brings me to the final point that the movie feels almost incomplete.  This war is more about the writers struggling to figure out the movie it wants to tell, patriotic pride and faith for healing or potentially a sports action movie to hopefully get bikes out into the business.  It’s this spin that although enjoyable could have struck a fine glance to deliver the full tale it wanted.




Overall, Bennett’s War has some solidly entertaining components that should potentially rope in a few groups this labor day weekend.  It’s inspirational, funny without trying too hard, and filled with dirt bike goodness that caters to a broader audience and sort of capture the heart of the movie Motocrossed from the Golden Age of Disney.  Yet, the film suffers from an indecisiveness of trying to cater too many, masking as  a potential army ranger recovering and struggling (aka American Sniper) on poster, but delivering a sports movie instead.  Again, I had fun with this movie, but this amplified version of the DCOM classic needs some more fine tuning or placement on the small screen track to maximize its potential. 


My scores are:


Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Taking This One To the Banks!

Brian Banks Poster


In an age where political issues swarm like an upset nest of hornets and movements taking place across the world, the movie business is looking to do its own public relations campaign in the form of films. No matter the topic of racism, sexism, or even just moments in history where ethnicity takes a role, we have been subjected to a number of films trying to capture the tales in all their “glory”.  Yet like all films, the art of bringing the class and magic to stories like this can again be a challenge that some struggle with. So my final review this week looks to see if this biography succeeds in telling a story without going too far down the melodramatic, political preaching that these movies sometimes become. Robbie K reviewing:


Movie: Brian Banks (2019)



Tom Shadyac


Doug Atchison


Aldis HodgeGreg KinnearSherri Shepherd






Musical effects

Emotional Display

Good Morale Lessons

Good Pace

Interesting Presentation




The question of real vs magic

Not as Much Morgan Freeman

Revealed Ending Early On

A Little Preachy At Times

More of the Lady Lawyers





The biography movies require that the character be hopefully represented by someone who not only looks like them, but can act like them.  And for this reviewer they succeeded in capturing the looks of the characters they portrayed. Brian Banks tale has some grade A acting that feels very realistic, but somehow manages to find that passion to sell the emotion and struggles of the events the football player went through.  Hodge in particular steals the show with his ability to take the drama and provide strength with it.  Kinnear on the other hand seems to have the lawyer role down pat, seriousness and stern, yet compassionate and fun.  The chemistry with all the cast really brings the scenario to life and making things feel real instead overly fake and doctored up by the studio.  Despite all the quality acting though, the movie has many other qualities that help bring this political issue to new levels that other movies did not succeed for me.  Some of it has to do with the presentation, primarily in how they take us on the trek of his case for freedom and the events leading up to it.  This film manages to blend the past and present in an interesting manner that is easy to follow, each piece of the puzzle fitting into a nice slot that was placed well during the quest for the truth.  In addition, the pace manages to strike a nice balance, managing to allocate plenty of time for character development, yet not move so slow that you wish the movie to end.  In addition, the film achieves the emotional delivery utilizing well written dialogues, camera work that captures the emotion, and musical editing that somehow manages to blend together and motivate one to become better. Note, I found this case a little more relevant to myself that may have helped, but I was impressed in how well the tale was presented feeling real, but no so real as to be dry and mundane.


Yet, the movie still has some things I would have liked to see improved upon.  One is how much of this is realistic vs. magic of the cinema.  For this movie, the emotion can sometimes cloud the evidence and get you caught up in the frenzy, but I feel it struck the equilibrium quite well for real vs. doctored.  Past this point, the movie’s component I would have liked was the better character balance of some of the group they worked hard to show off in the trailers.  The lady lawyers were some of these characters, two women who sort of got things moving, but then sort of got lost in the background.  I would have enjoyed more of their integration and perhaps dive into their lives.  However, the biggest surprise was that Morgan Freeman was not as prevalent as the trailers seemed to promise.  Luckily, he maximizes the time he is on the screen, bringing those same powerful performances he is famous for, still I had hoped the man who influenced so much would have been a little more integrated into the tale.  In regards to the story itself, again its motivational, but the ending is dropped off right at the beginning and thus taking with it the suspense of the film.  As for the morals, as powerful as they are, the movie sometimes drops into the preachy category, deviating too much in the political territory and veering away from the balanced telling I loved about this movie.


  As you can see, I loved this biography/drama well and found that the realism and emotion were able to truly inspire me about Brian’s journey and what his determination accomplished.  The film’s story, acting, and presentation accomplish the balance of reality with magic, all utilized well to teach the lessons I think these movies are all about. The movie could have been perfect had there been a little more tightening, primarily in the realm of utilizing Brian’s crew a little better, not giving the ending away in the first two minutes, and not going out of the way to state the political components it was presenting. This treasure will most likely go unnoticed given all the movies being released, but in terms of biography I recommend this one for a theater visit.  If not in the cards, check it out at home release, especially those looking to inspire others to overcome the goals.  Given all this, my scores for this movie are:


Biography/Drama/Sport:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5


Running To Inspirational Messages In This Okay Sports Movies

Run the Race Poster


Sports movies, they have many presentations and styles that make them so darn popular, but it’s often the ones that have the deep motivational themes and heart that really get the attention.  We Are Marshall, Pride of the Yankees, and of course Remember the Titans are just some of the films in the hall of film fame that are “timeless” pieces.  Yet, unsung heroes often wait on the bench, hoping to have their shot at shining amidst the stars.  Tim Tebow’s production is hoping to be one of those rookies to make a statement this weekend and this reviewer is ready to share his opinion.  Happy Friday folks and welcome to another review, this time on:


Movie: Run The Race (2019)



Chris Dowling


Jake McEntire (screenplay), Jason Baumgardner (screenplay)


Mykelti WilliamsonFrances FisherKristoffer Polaha





Well Acted

Pretty Cast

Sports Fueled Moments



Decently Paced




Run the Race’s likes center on some surprising balance in this fairly realistic portrayal of faith and football.  The cast of pretty thespians and cute physiques will be eye candy as they bring some decent acting to the mix of the family facing interesting circumstances. Their journey finds ways to bring the sports montage into the mix, crafting the story around the sports without becoming too invested into the mix.  It’s inspirational, finding some sequences that utilize the movie tricks and crafted speeches to get people going into action in helping face their problems.  The film goes deep into trying to teach the religious based life lessons it holds, and can really get some emotion going, as was seen in my audience and showing. And surprisingly, it’s got some decent pacing to it as well, finding a means to keep all these elements juggling smoothly, in hopes of getting to the end zone or finish line depending on the sport you like.  Nonetheless, the movie’s a nice sized package of inspirational messages delivered by poster worthy stars.




Plot Inconsistency

Sports Avenues Are Not Made Up

Rushed solutions

Unrealistic Manipulations






Despite the inspirational components to the movie there are some things that take it away from the majesty of the theater.  For me, the plot inconsistency is sort of the start as the race is ran a little too fast for some fo the plot lines to keep up with.  Some avenues keep the pace going well, but others like the romance arc, the tension with the dad, and even the rivalry of some of the characters are not quite as present as the main story line, leading to them hastily cleaned up by the end of the movie.  In addition, the sports montages are very simplistic, keeping the realistic component with them, but lacking those epic moments that make you want to scream out in delight.  Again, while I appreciate the down to Earth approach, this film really could have used some magic to help pep up the exciting sports it bombarded us with, even resorting to unrealistic manipulations of the system that were eye rolling. Instead, the religious aspect is where this film leads, using very preachy dialogue that while strong, motivational, and certainly a spiritual component sets up much of the movie’s “surprises”.  The predictable finish took away much of the emotion component for me and left me a little bored as I waited for the ending.  Still, the avenue of preaching the good word is something to be forewarned, and if you don’t want a case of faith, then you need to maybe hold off on this one.





Overall, Run The Race is actually a decent movie when it comes to religion influenced sports movies. A pretty cast will take on the task of instilling good messages that are deep and inspirational, while trying to develop the characters in the 105 minute run time.  Yet, the movie still runs into trouble when it comes to the memorable sports intense films.  It lacks the movie magic for one thing, and the preachiness may not be for everyone, especially if case of faith is not your cup of tea.  As predictable as it was though, this Friday Night Lights themed movie could have been better with a little more balance in terms of handling the other story themes and may injecting some movie magic as well. Worth a trip to theater?  I believe this one is best served for streaming to be honest, but that’s just my opinion. 


My scores are:


Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

I DeCreed This One Powerful Sequel

Creed II Poster

            The legacy of Rocky is an epic one that has etched its way into the hearts of sports movie fanatics until the end of time.  Despite their outdated cinema work, the movies hold such epic bouts of fist flying destruction, brazen masculinity, and surprisingly deep portrayal of sport vs. life.  It has worked super well for years, and with Creed reviving the series with a new, modern edge that showed a boxing movie can still pack the punches.  So a sequel to continue the new boxer’s legacy has emerged to challenge the rest of the Thanksgiving line up in hopes to win the championship of best box office.  Will it succeed?  Robbie K here to fill you in as I review:


Movie: Creed II (2018)



Steven Caple Jr.


Cheo Hodari Coker (story by), Ryan Coogler (characters)


Michael B. JordanSylvester StalloneTessa Thompson





The Character Development: Adonis Creed’s journey was soul searching and inspiring in the first film, and the sequel follows that back in spades. This film is dedicated to the torture of balancing pride of your career while trying to balance the other aspects of life.  Adonis goes through a lot of tough mental burdens, which helps stretch the limits of the character.  Of course Rocky himself still is finding ways to expand his own dynamic, still finding lessons to teach and learn as he himself goes through the throngs with his indirect nephew.  A Rocky films has always been about expanding the character and the traditions continues in the 8thinstallment.


The Music:  You like rap, hip hop, and R&B, you’ve got yourself a soundtrack that captivates the essence of the film.  It’s edgy, aggressive beat mixes beautifully with the actions scenes, mirroring the fighting lion that is Adonis in his quest for reaching his goals. Be ready for some hard-hitting beats, with potential aggressive lyrics that can be offensive.


Expanded Villain:  Most Rocky movies do a poor job of elaborating on the villainous boxer who wishes to stop our hero.  In this film though, the villains get a small subplot that helps to give them more details and appreciation.  Balancing this tale with the main story, crafts a much better investment in time when it comes to designing the rival boxer that I really liked, especially when even Ivan Drago contributes significantly to the tale.


The Rocky Feeling:  Creed II continues the tradition of the boxing movies, by crafting a tale that is all about getting guys in the macho, masculine mode.  Adonis’ next tale brings the motivational force to full light, instilling the testosterone fueled training, hype, enticement, and whatever else you are looking for.  Guys in my showing were hooting in delight, sometimes batting their hands together during the high adrenaline moments.  As for the females, well plenty of shirtless scenes and chiseled bodies to get you swooning if you like that. Past these moments though, classic fans will enjoy the bonds of coach and trainee once again working together to face life gloves up and eyes sharp.

The Final Fight:  We know the series is all about that final match, where contender and titan throw themselves into the ring in all their epic, sweaty glory.  Creed II has the finale you wait for, filled with the high adrenaline special effects, sound editing, high energy shots magic that studios craft.  As the bout progresses the raw emotion of both contenders is unleashed, in a manner worthy of the David Vs. Goliath status they were going for. It is an epic finish to all the buildup and lasts well enough to be worthy of inclusion.




A Little Too Aggressive at Times:  For me the in your face, high adrenaline moments were sometimes perfectly executed. Other times it was a little eye rolling and overdone.  The in your face moments, and fast to action attitude was fine in the first one, but at points in the movie it was a little sadder to watch. This plot point was supposedly conquered in the first one, yet they decided to harp on it as a recycled device. Small dislike, but we go with it.


Some Unnecessary Subplots: Creed II has a lot of heart and emotion with it, working to integrate a lot of angles to take Adonis’ life in to help shape the character.  Some of these angles worked quite well for me, and a couple of them didn’t.  I won’t say anything to minimize the spoilers, but there are a couple of tangents they took that didn’t quite add to the movie as much as they wanted.  I would have liked a few other subplots to get some more detail instead, but given the grand scheme of the movie it’s not quite as noticeable.


Carbon Copy:  A point that might make or break the movie depending on the audience Creed 2 loses points for originality.  While I understand that the first one wasn’t unique in terms of stories, Creed 2 really modeled its structure quite closely to one of the original Rocky movies, guess which one.  As such, the new coat of paint is quite refreshing, but given how much it follows the original in terms of main plot, it’s a little disappointing given the predictability of the movie that comes with it.  Will you be disappointed?  It really depends on how much you hate carbon copy plots.



The Verdict:

         Creed II delivers on the attitude the trailer promised long ago. By expanding upon the rivals, portraying more life components with career, and maintaining the feel of a Rocky Movie it’s going to please many fans of the franchise. Yet, the film still suffers from a tad too much modern aggression, some plot devices that didn’t quite need to be there, and a rehashed plot that will make or break the film. Overall though, I liked it and felt it fit very well in the universe and holding quality above a number of other installments.  So if you are looking for the testosterone driven plot line for the weekend, check this film out in spades this weekend, maximizing your experience in the theater. Otherwise definitely get ready for this one when it comes out to the wide public. 


My scores are:


Drama/Sport: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5 


Bump, Set, and Spiked Out Of Bounds

Miracle Season.jpg


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


Sean McNamara


David Aaron Cohen,  Elissa Matsueda (screenplay)


Helen Hunt,  Tiera Skovbye,  Erin Moriarty




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.




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 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

Preachy Morals with Football Flare


            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