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Michael Jordan, Above and Beyond (1996)

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Title: Michael Jordan, Above and Beyond (Video 1996)

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7 May 1996 (USA)  »

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Edited into Ultimate Jordan (2001) See more »

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The usual heartless corporate presentation that is saved by the charisma and energy of Jordan on and off court
16 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Following his third consecutive championship Michael Jordan was at the top of his game but could see no challenge ahead of him that he could use to give himself the hunger to go on. The murder of his father in a roadside robbery saw Jordan deciding to retire at age thirty and spend the season playing baseball instead. However on 19 March 1995, Jordan returned to the Bulls to play again at the Pacers, followed by a game winner against Atlanta and of course dropping 55 in New York. This documentary follows his return from retirement and the road to his next championship title.

After watching Air Time, I thought that the NBA people had managed to shake off the corporate marketing feel that had so hurt the earlier Jordan films (such as the weak Playground). However from the very start here we get a heavy polished voice-over from La Salle that immediately sounds like the whole thing is going to be overly earnest and heavy – not qualities that one would associate with the man himself. And so it is, as a terribly overbearing La Salle lumbers through the preamble to Jordan's retirement and the two seasons he was back before winning the title again. The approach lacks energy and feels polished, and as cheering as a slab of marble. God knows why they made it this way but fortunately, as he does on court, Jordan himself lifts it to be better than it deserves to be.

He does this by repeating the chatting style he had in Air Time and, again while he is not totally open and honest, he does come across as natural. This is his second gift after his basketball, the way he would always try and fit in with those around him, whether it was professionally or in his charity work. God know why they felt they needed La Salle as Jordan does lift it. It goes without saying that there are constant game clips and these are rarely less than impressive. Unfortunately the film appears to have been made midway through the championship winning season and looking back you cannot help feel that the DVD has broken because it seems illogical to not carry on to the natural conclusion of the season. Not sure why they did this considering the film itself seems sure that "Jordan is back", so why not wait for the outcome of that? So anyway, as a film it is mixed. The delivery and narration makes it feel like a passionless and cold corporate promotion video (which in a way it is) but the passion, charisma and energy of Jordan himself happily balances this out and makes the film better than it deserves to be.

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