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Overall Rating

Awesome: 43.56%
Worth A Look44.55%
Average: 7.92%
Pretty Bad: 0.99%
Total Crap: 2.97%

8 reviews, 53 user ratings

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by Collin Souter

"Not a perfect movie about its subject, but it's probably the right one."
4 stars

I have to plead ignorance right off the bat here and say that I have no recollection of that important Olympic hockey game that took place back in 1980. I was only eight years old and had no concept of the world outside my Star Wars toys and the first girl I ever had a crush on. The events depicted in the new movie “Miracle” have little to no importance for me, so walking in I had only rudimentary knowledge of said event. Friends of mine expressed the impact the game had on America at the time and it made perfect sense. I learned quite a bit from “Miracle,” but in a way I wish I had learned a bit more.

The movie puts the events into perspective with a terrific opening montage that brings to light the state of dread this country had been in during the ‘70s. Gas shortages, Nixon’s resignation, disco, etc. No ‘70s fixture has been left un-exposed. Clearly, the nation needed something to brighten its spirits, to strengthen its muscle and to reawaken its pride in being American. One can only watch the Death Star blow up so many times before you have to walk out of the theater and into the real world where nobody seems to be winning anything.

Enter Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), who has just been offered the position to coach the U.S. Olympic hockey team. Brooks has a quiet yet rough exterior about him. He never seems to get emotional about much of anything and he takes the coaching position very seriously. He accepts the job and proceeds to put together “not the best team, but the right one.” His wife, Patty (Patricia Clarkson), loves the opportunity this brings for her husband, but it seems to be a one-way conversation between the two.

The team consists of hockey players from all over the country and with diverse backgrounds. A rivalry between a Minnesota player and a Boston player comes into focus early on in the story, but is quickly laid to rest by the coach who sees his team as one force fighting for one country. After their first big loss, coach Brooks keeps his team after the game for one long, grueling night of skating back and forth across the ice until his message comes in loud and clear. Play as one and for one cause.

Lingering within the background of this story is the rest of the world’s problems seeping in within the cracks of what would otherwise be a standard sports drama. “Miracle” does have its share of standard sports movie clichés, but the way in which the world’s events come into view without the use of a sledgehammer to help make a point should not be dismissed. We occasionally see TV footage of the hostage crisis in the background and a conversation takes place while waiting in a long line for gas. That’s it. Little things like that come and go, but never to an annoying extreme. “Miracle” clearly tells the story of a country that needed a hero and got one, rather unexpectedly.

And the heroes are pretty exciting to watch. The hockey scenes look fantastic as director Gavin O’Connor lets his cameras get right in the middle of the action, swerving breathlessly though the game as well as though the crowds watching it. I have been told by friends that the all-important game against the Soviets at Lake Placid—the big finale—has been re-created so thoroughly and with such detail that their jaws hit the floor in disbelief (I can only take their word for it). This is important to know, because one shot to me felt pretty anti-climactic, but only because when it comes to sports I have been raised on mostly sports movie clichés. As I said before, I don’t know this story inside and out, but there’s still plenty to cheer about, regardless.

At the forefront of this movie, however, is a wonderfully understated performance by Kurt Russell, who has long been one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. A true everyman, Russell has always had the knack for knowing when to go over the top (almost anything directed by John Carpenter) and when to hold steady. Here, with a nicely polished Upper Midwestern accent, Russell gives one of his most dignified and effortless performances. Noah Emmerich, as Brooks assistant Craig Patrick, is the perfect “friend” for the team and the emotionally distant Brooks. He brings the same sense of comforting balance to this story as he did for “The Truman Show.”

“Miracle” gets most of the elements right for a good sports story. I only wish I had known more about the team members. Perhaps it’s inevitable that the movie would have to distance itself from the players. Perhaps twenty people would be too many and if it were to get in a little deeper, many players would have been left out completely. And perhaps if the movie did go that route, it would not have been fair for the story. It’s a solid argument either way, but I walked out of “Miracle” wishing I had known more about their diverse backgrounds than the movie made clear. I wondered if O’Connor made the right choice to focus on the team as one unit the same way Brooks did. I can say that “Miracle” might not be the best movie about this event, but it just might be the right one.

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originally posted: 02/06/04 16:28:38
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User Comments

9/12/15 Anne Well done. You are with the team and coach all the way! 4 stars
10/08/09 Anita totally surprised by Kurt Russel's performance - I had to remind myself it was him. 5 stars
8/31/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
12/02/06 shagtex just keep yelling USA over and over and stay home 1 stars
12/01/06 SabresFanatic Think David vs Goliath only with the brillant Herb Brooks coaching David to victory! Great 5 stars
11/10/06 Anonymous I think this movie was the best. My mum and dad are like fanatics of too, now :] 5 stars
10/03/05 Angeli Grace One of the unforgettable achievements in the USA sports history. I love it! 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Hockey? I thought this thing was about America dominating the world 2 stars
2/11/05 Jeff Anderson Along with SLAP SHOT, this IS the greatest hockey film of ALL TIME in spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/07/05 Poopy McPoop Crap I just wanted to be the only one who rated this movie bad...i really liked it tho 1 stars
12/22/04 Landshark The best medicine for wounds of the long-suffering hockey fan 5 stars
11/19/04 Zeus Greatest moment in sports history. Got to love it 5 stars
10/30/04 Lee ausome 5 stars
6/14/04 Spiderfan50 Dream On! It'll be hard to find a better hocky movie! 5 stars
6/01/04 Ryan Absolutely incredible, best hockey movie I've ever seen. Any fan of the sport needs to see 5 stars
6/01/04 maggie saw it three times and bought the dvd which is great 5 stars
5/31/04 prongs inspirational movie 5 stars
5/30/04 Frazier A patriotic sports movie that gives us national pride 5 stars
5/27/04 Matt Great movie for Hockey fans!!! 5 stars
5/19/04 ryan ransom i loved it i got some while watching it!!!!!!!!1 5 stars
4/17/04 Robyn Jamil-Walid Intense;watchable;a little too self-indulgent at times;subplot with wife mostly annoying. 4 stars
3/31/04 Alex This movie is very inspiring. This is a great movie for the whole family. 4 stars
3/30/04 Mike V It was a Disney movie before it was a Disney movie. 5 stars
3/17/04 Chris I like the movie alot but it played it safe a little to much. Still a good see. 4 stars
3/16/04 Mike Sierchio I knew the story intimately and still found myself on the edge of my seat. 5 stars
3/14/04 E-Rock A well done movie. Game sequences are nicely edited, and the story is well-adapted. 4 stars
3/14/04 Jillian Truly something inspirational, shows us how it is a team comes together when its needed 5 stars
3/10/04 Bob Gifford Overachieves typical expectations 5 stars
3/08/04 Edler A very solid, well made, well acted, entertaining, and inspiring movie. 4 stars
3/04/04 m.gallegos Great! I was on the edge of my seat,even though I knew how it would turn out! 5 stars
3/03/04 Sarah I thought it was fantastic, i saw it in the U.S and wasnt sure what 2 expect, but i luvd it 5 stars
3/02/04 Wendranh Slow to build excitement, but worth it. 4 stars
3/01/04 ashley bevis 4 good sex call gary betts on 01303 243289 5 stars
2/22/04 Tom Bonner Great movie! I remember this like it was yesterday and what it for the US. Kurt is perfect! 5 stars
2/21/04 Ross Riley Best Sports Movie Of ALL TIME 5 stars
2/20/04 Koitus Could have used more footage of exhibition loss (7-3); or other Olympic games. 3 stars
2/16/04 Edler Oh yeah! A great sports movie with amazing insight into the dreary and depressing 1970's. 5 stars
2/16/04 Claire Proce excellent movie... we need more of this kind!! 5 stars
2/16/04 Kev Enjoyable, but it lacked meaning and development 3 stars
2/16/04 Bobbie K Entertaining; but would like to have seen more depth to other characters 4 stars
2/15/04 Joker94 Great Film, if you can't see that, you have no heart! 5 stars
2/15/04 ajay I enjoyed this movie... 4 stars
2/10/04 luke good but beating soviets overshadowed winning the gold 4 stars
2/09/04 Jeremy Sexton Loved every minute of it. I would have stayed for another hour of film! 5 stars
2/09/04 Tyler Bauer Great. Top Notch. Fantastic. 5 stars
2/09/04 Vicious Yanks shouldn't make hockey films. 1 stars
2/09/04 Brad good 5 stars
2/08/04 bullit16 I felt like I was 7 again watching the games on TV. Wonderful! 5 stars
2/08/04 david a may generall a good film; uplifting and will get your tear quotient for the week met. 4 stars
2/08/04 Glen Hull Very entertaining 4 stars
2/04/04 Carly O'Conner Loved It 4 stars
2/04/04 Nicole Great movie. Whatever I was expecting, it was better. 4 stars
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  06-Feb-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 18-May-2004



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