Saw the film "Miracle", of all things, last night. I know. A lot of you must be scratching your heads, asking, why? It's a Disney movie, so that's usually not a good sign. It's a sports movie, another worrying sign. That's why I was wary at first too. But I read somewhere that this film's getting a 2-disc DVD release. It's not a huge money maker like LXG, or Bad Boys 2, or T3. It's not a critically acclaimed film like Pulp Fiction or anything like that. So there must be something special about it to warrant a release like that. So I checked it out.
First of all, the director is Gavin O Connor, who last did the film 'Tumbleweeds'. And the lead actor is Kurt Russell, who gives a fantastic performance that should've at least won him some sort of acting nomination. I'm not sure what year this film is released in, but if it's 2004, I hope he gets an acting nod in the next Oscars. It would be a shame if he didn't.
The story? It's about the miraculous feat of the 1980 USA Olympics Ice Hockey team beating the Soviets in the semi-finals and later winning the gold. Smell the cheese anyone? I can definitely tell you one thing, this film is so unhip, it hurts. But you'll be surprised how good it is if you see it.
First of all, I think the filmmakers did a little bit of pre-flashing on the negative of the film before shooting because the film has this very authentic washed out look of the late 70s and early 80s films. Sometimes the colours look normal, but more often than not, this muted look is what you'll get. There are no fancy camera moves, but plenty of handheld ones to make it a bit more realistic. I definitely like the 'look' of the film.
The most surprising thing is that the films chose to focus on the coach, Herb (played by Kurt Russell). The players are all young, good looking guys, but the film chose to not dwell in who they are, or what their problems are, thus evading cliches like winning the final = winning back girlfriend, or winning the final = proving to everyone that you're not a dweeb, or winning the final = getting money to fund your terminally ill little brother's operation. Another ballsy move by the filmmakers.
The next thing is, THERE ARE NO VILLAINS!! The Soviet players are not bad guys (in any sense of the word, be it bullies or whatever), they are just another opponent. Even the hysteria (and political and emotional weight) surrounding the US team's dream run to the Gold medal is played down. It is strictly about the coach, and his obsession to build a TEAM. And that's it. If you ask me, that is pretty radical and ballsy in films like this.
You can even say that this film is actually a sort of character study on the coach, which I think is brilliantly done, because he is NEVER presented as a hero. He's obsessed with getting what he wants, can be very insensitive (even to his wife!!), and even downright cruel. You do get a well rounded character here, and as I said before, Kurt Russell is amazing here. You believe him 100%. The film IS centered around him and he carries it effortlessly.
My only complaints are the over-enthusiastic score, the little bit more effort that could be made to acquaint us with the players, and the sometimes pedestrian cinematography, especially during the training and the hockey games.
But all in all, a good movie with a fantastic performance that's worth checking out. 3 out of 4 stars.