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We Are Marshall (2006)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Legendary Coaches: (36:58) How Coaches Overcome Adversity
Featurette-Marshall Now : Promo (01:02)
Theatrical Trailer-4x3: (02:29)
Year Of Production
||Cast & Crew
Warner Home Video
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
We Are Marshall is yet another movie that starts with the cliché "this is a true story". In this case the cliché is apt. This screenplay is very strongly based on a true story, and that screenplay should have been the basis of a moving and memorable film. Unfortunately this screen treatment does not deliver that film. The story remains strong, but the film is weak indeed.
In 1970 a plane crash in West Virginia just outside the town of Huntington resulted in the deaths of all seventy-five on board. Of these fifty-five were either in or connected to the local Marshall University Football team. The other twenty were either members of the college faculty and administration or prominent townspeople. Huntington is a devastated town and initially there is no desire to rebuild the team. Eventually, urged on by one of the very few remaining players, Nate Ruffin (Anthony Mackie), Team President Dedman (David Strathairn) recruits a new coach, Jack Lenguel (Matthew McConaughey). Lenguel persuades reluctant assistant coach Red Dawson (Matthew Fox) to help him recruit new players. Dawson had not been on the fated plane due to a last minute quirk of fate.
Lenguel and Dawson have their problems. Rules prohibit the recruitment of freshmen, and it is to the younger, still living, collegiates that they must look. That's one obstacle to be overcome. There are individual human problems as well, including a grieving parent, Paul Griffen (Ian McShane) and the girl who would have been his daughter-in-law, Annie Cantrell (Kate Mara). Through all the trials and tribulations we follow the rebuilding of the new team through to their initial test on the field and beyond.
This all has the making of a really strong, emotional sporting tale. There are two major drawbacks. One is the director and the other is the star.
McG - that's all the name the man has - has previously directed TV and the two Charlie's Angels movies. All the terrible testosterone clichés of sports movies are here. Slow motion without end, pointless over-editing that gives us no sense of the game at all, and a soaring "inspirational" score. The director also has to take some of the responsibility for Matthew McConaughey's acting, and he does LOTS of it in this movie. Was it Spencer Tracy who said acting should be invisible? McConaughey, who kept reminding me of Popeye the Sailor without the pipe, is obviously creating a "character" and one has to give him some credit for playing against his glamour boy image, but this is just bad acting. After this, and his previous effort at "acting" in Two for the Money, here's hoping he returns to romantic comedies and light hearted fare like Sahara where he is so successful and charming.
There are a few good things along the way. Matthew Fox as assistant coach Red Dawson - his hair colour fluctuating alarmingly in some scenes - gives a moving, sincere performance, underplaying very nicely in contrast to the other Matthew's excesses. Fox was impressive in TV's Lost, before that show itself became lost, and shows big screen promise. Ian McShane gives a very subdued and effective performance, nothing like his histrionics in TV's Deadwood, and Kate Mara and Anthony Mackie have some very nice moments as well. David Strathairn, usually so reliable, has very little to work with, and his reaction close-ups watching the crucial game late in the film are downright embarrassing.
I'm normally a real sucker for emotional sports movies - from The Stratton Story, through Field of Dreams and 61*, to the two Prefontaine movies and Seabiscuit to name just a few. We are Marshall is, on the other hand, a disappointing waste of a potentially powerful tale.
Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.
This is a very nice transfer. Clear, sharp and clean.
The image is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 - not 2.35:1 as the sleeve indicates - and is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is extremely sharp and clear, with a total absence of artefacts.
Shadow detail is excellent and there is no low level noise.
The colour palette was quite attractively subdued, which looks like a genuine effort here to give some feeling of the past to the events.
Aliasing was quite prominent in scenes where the grandstands were empty, the vacant benches creating a problem. There was also a small amount on some of the fine detail on clothing.
Subtitles are available in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Arabic and Hebrew. The English Subtitles were sampled and found to be very accurate.
The layer change occurs between Chapters 18 and 19, at 78:28. There is a very slight freeze with no loss of sound.
Video Ratings Summary
This is an excellent audio transfer that I could not fault technically.
There is only one audio track on this release, English in Dolby Digital 5.1.
The dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.
There were no sync problems.
The reproduction of the score by Christophe Beck was excellent, making extensive use of the surround speakers and excellent subwoofer bass.
The surround channels were used very effectively in the arena scenes, creating an enveloping environment.
The subwoofer was used to emphasise the heavy body contact during the football games.
The entire sound system is utilised extensively throughout the film - and if you are "into" the movie I'm sure your enjoyment will be increased by the aural experience.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
There is really only one extra on the disc, but it is quite a hefty one, the Featrurette : Legendary Coaches.
Menu The menu is 16x9 enhanced and is very basic.
There is a collage of a couple of stills from the film, and the main "inspirational" theme is heard.
31 scenes on 6 screens with thumbnail stills. No sound.
Featurette : Legendary Coaches : (36:58)
This featurette is introduced by McG, the director, who introduces us to "the greatest winners of all time ... truly legendary coaches".
The first six minutes is the most interesting as it is devoted to Jack Lenguel himself. Very interesting to see the actual person today, and to see that he is nothing like the caricature presented by Matthew McConaughey. After that we get five other coaches from a range of sporting areas, each of whom has his, or her in one case, inspirational tale to tell. It's OK, but a bit on the preachy side.
The featurette is presented 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and there are English captions.
Marshall Now : (01:02)
This is really nothing more than a TV ad which seems to be promoting enrolment at Marshall - "a free cell phone to all students" is a sadly ominous post Columbine enticement.
Alumni are shown in their post-collegiate fields of endeavour and achievement - the chorus of Les Mis !!!!!!
It is presented 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.
The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0, without captions.
Theatrical Trailer : (02.29)
The trailer is presented 2.35:1 but does not have 16x9 enhancement.
The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.
A montage of what you would expect. Emotional faces, crashing bodies and inspirational music.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version misses out on : Arabic and Hebrew subtitles.
The Region 4 version misses out on : the French language track in Dolby Digital 5.1; and
Spanish and French subtitles.
That's a definite "draw" unless there are linguistic reasons to prefer one over the other.
We Are Marshall is personally a very disappointing experience. If you absolutely LOVE American football your experience may be different. I am an admirer of Matthew McConaughey. He is a charismatic and charming star, but he overreaches in this movie and it is embarrassing. The entire project has an adolescent view of what should have been a really moving adult story. A shame that this material has been wasted on this travesty. It looks good, sounds great so maybe that's enough. Not for me.
© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, January 21, 2008
|DVD||Onkyo-SP500, using Component output|
|Display||Philips Plasma 42FD9954/69c.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player.
Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
|Speakers||VAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)|