The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Miracle

Submit to DeliciousSubmit to DiggSubmit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to StumbleuponSubmit to TechnoratiSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn

Judy Thorburn

Miracle

Las Vegas Tribune - http://www.lasvegastribune.com
Las Vegas Round The Clock
- http://www.lasvegasroundheclock.com

The Women Film Critics Circle - http://www.wfcc.wordpress.com
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
">
kreatia@
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

THIS “MIRACLE” ON ICE IS A WINNER

For those who weren’t born, or are too young to remember why the U.S. Hockey team’s victory in the 1980 Olympics made such an impact on the hearts of most Americans at the time, this aptly titled film, Miracle starts off by taking us back to the seventies. Through a montage of footage and audio clips we are given a background of the social and political climate of that decade that included disco fever, war protests, the bicentennial, the first test tube baby, Three Mile Island, Americans held hostage in Iran, and the gas crisis, among other newsworthy headlines.  It was also a scary time for our nation when the cold war was heating up between the U.S. and Russia, and we needed something to lift our spirits. Who would have figured it would come in the form of 20 young men with hockey sticks and a headstrong coach who was determined to go for the Gold?  It seemed almost impossible, but these underdogs took the world by storm by beating the seemingly invincible Russians who had dominated the sport for two decades.  It was a miraculous achievement that would go down in sports history.

Miracle, directed by Gavin O’Connor relays the true story of Herb Brooks, and how in only seven months, he recruited and led his team of hockey players to that famous victory at the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.  The casting could not have been more perfect.  Kurt Russell, who plays Brooks, had relocated to Vancouver, Canada with life partner Goldie Hawn so that their son, Wyatt, a serious hockey player, could pursue his dream career with the professionals, in the land where hockey reigns supreme. So, it seemed a perfect fit for the veteran actor to step into the coach’s skin. Kurt is marvelous, sinking his teeth into the role, and employing a seamless Minnesota accent to portray, the intense former hockey player turned coach, a man compelled to make up for his own loss when he was cut from the 1960 Olympic hockey team before they went on to win the Gold medal. This is surely Kurt’s most enthusiastic, ambitious, and emotionally demanding role to date.   The very hot, rising star Patricia Clarkson, (an Oscar nominee for Pieces of April) plays Herb’s wife, Patty. She does her best with the small supporting role of the sympathetic spouse who understands the underlying reason for her husband’s obsession, but who wishes he would spend more time with the family.

Brooks was a tough as nails man, determined to do things his own way, even against the wishes of the American Hockey Association, after he was chosen to put together a team from the best collegiate hockey players in the country.  He wasn’t looking for the “best” players. He wanted the “right” ones, which meant not only talent, but also players with the will and mindset to withstand the rigorous hard training, repetitive drills, and psychological tests he put them through.  Brooks would not tolerate fights or conflicts between old rivalries within his team, and insisted they consider the team their family; one they would whole-heartedly be committed to.  If they hated him for his mean tactics, that was OK. It meant they wouldn’t have time to hate each other.

The team consists of a few recognizable faces, but most are unknowns who do a commendable job. Since most of the concentration is on the team as a whole, we get to learn only a little about just a few of the young men and what motivated them to sacrifice and give so much of themselves for this sport.  Goalie Jimmy Craig, (Eddie Cahill), stands out as the one player who refused to take the Brook’s written test, butting heads with the coach more than once. He is driven to play for his mother who had died, and we see his father proud and rooting for his son in the stands.  And, while female fans distract some of the young guys, annihilation of the Soviets at the games soon becomes their number one goal, especially after the pep talk from their coach enforces their belief that the Soviet’s time is over, and says this is OUR time to win!

Miracle takes us behind the scenes at the grueling boot camp-like methods of training that the select group had to endure, and up to the recreated televised Olympic broadcasts with on air commentaries by real life sportscaster Al Michaels.  The cinematography by Dan Skoloff is exhilarating, capturing the speed and play-by-play action on the ice. My only problem is too many close-ups and not enough distant shots to follow the lightning fast moves of the players. However, it does not detract from the emotionally charged and exciting battle on the ice sequence that made everyone in America proud for one shining moment.  That same feeling was evident in the audience at my preview screening.  It has been a long time since I have seen an audience cheering like they did. I’d say that Miracle is the first uplifting, memorable film experience of 2004 and a great date movie for both men and women.

It’s unfortunate that Herb Brooks died shortly after filming began, and didn’t get to see his story on screen.  But, as it says in the closing moments, the fact is, “he lived it”.   His triumph on ice uplifted our spirits at a time when our nation was in need. In Miracle, the spark is rekindled. I hope he is sharing the glory once again, in spirit.