I've never been a very big fan of McG. Charlie's Angels was okay, even if it was glossy trash. Unfortunately, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle was glossy trash that smelled like dog doo-doo, and is one of the most unbearable monstrosities to ever grace the silver screen. While I'm still not even remotely happy that the director has been hired on to do Terminator 4, his first entry into the drama genre, We Are Marshall, is surprisingly decent.
We Are Marshall starts with the tragic events that occurred on November 14th, 1970, when an airplane carrying most of the Marshall University football team and all but one of the staff members (played by Matthew Fox) crashed, killing all aboard. With no students to fill the once hugely popular football team, and controversy and limitations over whether the football program should be put back together, the decision was made to proceed. This movie looks at that first season, as a relatively inexperienced head coach (Matthew McConaughey) tapes together a ragtag team full of freshman. No one expected them to win many games, and they don't, but We Are Marshall looks at the courage, if you want to be sentimental, to push on nonetheless.
Marshall is a pretty good movie, with a likable cast, a moving storyline and some decent sport moments. McConaughey, Fox and the rest of the cast do a good job and carry the film reasonably well. This is one of the more heartfelt sports movies to come along in quite a well, as it is based on true and seriously tragic events. That being said...
It's still a sports movie, however. Marshall works pretty good, and McG gets some decent football sequences into the movie, but there's nothing remarkable here. Yes, the tragedy is sad, but the movie leans too much on those events. Beyond that, the film never establishes any unique or intriguing relationships that we care about. Marshall focuses mainly on McConaughey's attempts to put a team together, but shouldn't the movie have focused more on the students? I would have liked to see how the freshman players interacted with older students who actually lost people in the crash; did they fully realize the emotional consequences of their game? What was mood like on campus? It's these interesting dynamics that could have set Marshall apart, but the film doesn't go down that path. Instead, it stays true to the regular football storyline, which is fine, except it doesn't stand out there, either. As it is, We Are Marshall needed more football sequences and better development of the players.
It's definitely not Remember the Titans.
We Are Marshall is pretty good, but not the powerhouse it wanted to be. Had McG and the writers set out to make a kick ass football movie, or a more serious drama about how the tragedy affected everyone's lives, the movie could have been something, but instead there's nothing new to see here.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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