Many critics claim that Seabiscuit is the first Oscar-worthy film of 2003. Based on the bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand, which is in turn based on the true story of the 1930's racehorse, the movie is a fun and well-acted sports drama that boasts some good characters and exciting race scenes. However, it never amounts to more than that.
Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper (this year's Best Supporting Actor), Tobey Maguire, William H. Macy and Elizabeth Banks headline the all-star cast whose characters come together to develop a formidable foe out what is seemingly a pathetic loser of a horse. As the country goes through the Great Depression, Seabiscuit becomes synonymous with the ordinary worker that never gives up and eventually prevails.
Seabiscuit has good acting all around, especially from Bridges and Maguire. Bridges, who is always good despite some poor films now and then, commands most scenes that he is in, though it is questionable as to whether his character was really as noble as he is portrayed here.
Maguire, with his newfound fame from Spider-Man, shows that he is a true acting talent. His character by far has the most depth; in fact, he is the only flawed character in the movie and thus makes him the most interesting. A stronger story into his past would have been interesting.
Cooper wasn't nearly as effective. A hugely talented actor that only recently found the praise he deserves, his character here is a little muted and uninteresting. His slow and simple speech here just isn't very interesting.
Seabiscuit, given a good cast with a good script, easily entertains from beginning to end. The movie especially shines in the race sequences that, while not overly ambitious, are consistently exciting. The one-on-one race is especially thrilling.
However, beyond good acting and race scenes, Seabiscuit sets no new benchmarks. It is fun to watch but not mind-blowing in any way or form.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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