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Sunday, December 03, 2006


Yes, it's movie review time and today's title is Miracle. This is the story of the 1980 Olympic hockey team that beat the USSR and won the gold medal at Lake Placid. In this version of the story, the focus is on the coach, Herb Brooks played by Kurt Russell. (See? If someone stays in Hollywood long enough, even I'll learn the name. ;-O) I don't think I need to recap the action, do I? This was voted the sports story of the century by Sports Illustrated, so I'm sure you all know it.

There was a lot to love about this movie. Kurt Russell did a stellar job playing Coach Brooks and every expression on his face helped tell the story. Fabulous acting by Kurt, I thought, and everyone else in the movie. Actually, I didn't think about the acting until after the final credits were rolling, so I'd say that means it was good. I could believe for the length of the story that this was Herb Brooks, not Kurt playing Herb.

Another thing I really liked was that the movie opened with a montage of world events for the ten years preceding the 1980 Winter Olympics. This put the game in context for the political and social climate of the time. It's easy to forget that the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and the US was going to boycott the Summer Olympics that year in protest or that the Soviet Bloc had threatened to boycott the Winter Games. They didn't, but it had been a real threat. The other thing that's easy to forget in this world we live in now is that the Cold War was still very much alive and well in 1980 and that this was viewed as more than a game by a lot of people.

The hockey scenes were very well done, and when I watched the extra on the DVD that took the viewer behind the scenes, I discovered it was because they'd cast hockey players who could act. True! They actually tested them on hockey skills with some NHL coaches before they were allowed to read for the roles. They had to have a certain level of ability or they weren't even considered. The casting was done all across the US and in Vancouver, Canada as well. I didn't notice any real deficiencies in the acting, so I think this strategy worked.

The best part about this movie, though, was that despite the fact I knew the outcome--the USA wins the gold medal--there was enough suspense during the Olympic hockey scenes to keep me on the edge of my seat. I was actually stressed out, wondering whether or not they'd win. :-)

The movie is 136 minutes long, which made me hesitate because it was pretty late when I popped it in and I was already tired, but the time flew by. It felt like a much shorter film. There was always something going on--if it wasn't action, it was character development--and I couldn't believe how quickly the end came. This movie made me remember just why I used to love hockey so much. I might have to catch a few Wild games on TV this winter. :-)

At the very end, when the credits were playing, they showed the actors names and what that hockey player was doing now. I really liked that they did that, gave us a chance to catch up on what happened to the 1980 team.

My rating: 5 stars

Go watch this movie; it's fabulous!