Search This Blog

Monday, February 09, 2004

Miracle Review.

Three words: Go see it.

Following hard on the success of The Rookie (which you should also see), Disney is starting to turn into a fine studio for sports films. If they can keep it up, they might have something to counterbalance the string of animated failures.

Even if you normally don't like hockey, everybody who was alive at the time and above the age of reason remembers the Miracle on Ice. Miracle is a superb dramatization of the event, told mostly from the perspective of the late Herb Brooks, head coach of the U.S. team.

Kurt Russell plays Brooks, and is pitch perfect. Two scenes stand out: first, where Brooks runs the team through sprints after a tie against the perennially mediocre (or worse) Norwegian national team, and second, when he leaves the bench after the victory over the Soviets to express his jubiliation, alone.

The team is well-portrayed, although none has the opportunity to shine like Russell. Eddie Cahill is a good Jim Craig, and he has a couple of memorable scenes with his father and Brooks. Patrick O'Brien Dempsey's Mike Eruzione (they could be clones) and Michael Mantenuto's Jack O'Callaghan have moments, but that's pretty much it from the team perspective.

Yes, hockey purists, these guys can actually skate. This isn't Youngblood, where the stars look like they might fall to the ice at any second. What happens in the movie looks an awful lot like hockey to this purist. Right down to the chaos and instant momentum changes. I'm sure the editing helped, but there was some real aptitude on the part of the actors. How does the re-creation of the game work? How's this: The crowd was sucked in, cheering American goals and "awww"-ing scores by the Russians, and reveling in acrobatic saves by Craig. Al Michaels and Ken Dryden even reprised their roles as commentators for the film--a very nice touch.

It is a crowd pleaser from beginning to end, and I can't remember the last time I heard applause at the end of a film--until Miracle.

Finally, there is a brief, somber moment from recent history in the film: the Twin Towers make an appearance in a night skyline shot of Manhattan, just before a pre-Olympics game at the MSG.

Funny how it still hits me. Or maybe not so funny, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment