Miracle on DVD
At a time when the United States' morale really needed a shot in the arm, a
band of medium-talented hockey players gave the country just that.
It was a miracle. And it came true.
Miracle is the true story of the US national hockey team that competed in -
and won - the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York.
This was no all star team; rather it was a group of wannabes hand-assembled
by coach Herb Brooks (Magnificently played by Kurt Russell) specifically to
beat the supposedly unbeatable Soviets.
This is an excellent movie, not just because of the story but because the
filmmakers got the period right. It was a time when America suffered from years
of soul searching after the debacle that was Vietnam, when the economy was in
the tank, the Iranians were thumbning their noses at the country and holding
its diplomats hostage, and the country's leadership under Jimmy Carter was weak,
ineffective, and depressing.
The US needed something to feel good about, to restore its confidence. And
Ronald Reagan wasn't yet president...
Miracle starts with Herb Brooks being interviewed for the job - and because
he wants to build the team his way he doesn't think he'll get it. But he does,
and then he starts breaking every rule or conventional wisdom in order to build
the team his way.
And of course he does, though not before his skaters are forced to go above
and beyond the normal call of duty, stripping themselves of their individuality
and molding them into a real team.
Miracle does an excellent job of putting the story and its era into perspective.
The movie looks and feels right in its details, including the downbeat mood
of America and the upbeat Brooks, a man who drove the team to the breaking point
to reach that brass ring.
Russell is often underrated as an actor; as Herb Brooks he's excellent - and
with his Bobby Orr-like haircut and laughable 1970's era clothes it's easy to
forget he isn't really Brooks. Patricia Clarkson plays Brooks' somewhat supportive
wife and Noah Emmerich is his long-suffering assistant. The cast is rounded
out by a gang of hockey players who can also act, as the team, and the combination
is first rate.
The hockey scenes are extremely well staged and it looks as if they've re-staged
the actual games portrayed. We aren't hockey fans enough to really know, but
it's certainly believable.
The climactic game between the US and the Soviets wasn't actually the game
that earned the team the gold medal - and we don't get to see the gold medal
game. But it was the Russians who were the world powerhouse and the team to
beat, and that's where the focus of the movie rightly belongs.
The gut-wrenching game is recreated in remarkable detail, including hits and
chants of "USA! USA!" It's enough to make you proud to be an American, even
if you aren't one!
The THX-certified 2 disc DVD set is also excellent. The picture of the movie
itself is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and it's bright
and sharp and clean and terrific. This is basically reference quality stuff
- as is the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio that puts you in the arenas with
Commentary by director Gavin O'Connor, editor John Gilroy and director
of photography Daniel Stoloff
"The Making of Miracle"
"First Impressions: Herb Brooks with Kurt Russell and the filmmakers"
Miracle ESPN roundtable with memebers of the 1980 team, Russell and host
"From Hockey to Hollywood: The Actors' Journey" featurette
The Sound Of Miracle behind the scenes featurette
Miracle from Walt Disney Home Entertainment
136 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich
Produced by Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray,
Written by Eric Guggenheim, directed by Gavin O'Connor
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