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I am the child of two St. Paul east- siders. My father has loved hockey
as long as he can remember. My mom, well, she just likes sports in
Hockey ruled my life from the very first moments. First my father's
practices and games, then my little brother, later on there were
friends, high school, and college. Now there is Gophers and Wild. I
that hockey will continue to define my life for a very long
That said, for Minnesota kids there are legends told to them from the beginning. How Paul Bunyan shaped our lakes and rivers, and lived "Up North", and there is Herb Brooks. Legends that define Minnesota heritage.
Herb Brooks was a man who shaped the way hockey is viewed in Minnesota. A stand out at St. Paul Johnson High School, and at the U. He went to coach his beloved Gophers and work with his idol John Mariucci. Now the ice at Mariucci Arena (not 2 miles from where I sit now) bears tribute to Herby. His coaching techniques are still used and abused throughout the state.
Kurt Russell paid apt tribute to our late leader, and I am positive he would be impressed. I was fortunate enough to get sneak-preview tickets to see Miracle, and I can honestly say I don't remember when I had such a good time at the movies. I don't think I stopped smiling once. Russell's accent was good throughout the movie, but on just a few lines I could have SWORN that he was a Minnesotan. He elongated his vowels very well.
Eddie Cahill did a superb job as Jim Clark. I wondered how exactly he would play someone so torn between immense sadness and undeniable pride. I was even more impressed with his hockey skills. I hope that this helps the very yummy Mr. Cahill move from TV-boyfriend dujor (friends, Sex and the City) to a great movie actor. As it is the only thing that disappointed me was that he was running around the Cities last summer, and I had no idea.
If you are still reading this it goes without saying that I think you should see this movie. Sure you know how it ends, you've probably seen the game at least once on ESPN Classic even if you are old enough to remember it in the first place. The portrayal of our country at such a dark time in the world's history is historically great. Apt tribute is paid to Afghanistan (even if we are repeating the USSR's mistakes now), the Ayatollah, the oil embargo, and the general distrust in government. The Miracle on Ice was a very bright spot in a very dark time, and Miracle does a wonderful job showing just that. To those who say, who outside the US cares? I say hockey fans care. Sports fans care. This is not just a hockey movie (though it is a great one); it is a movie about hard work and perseverance. Isn't that what America really stands for?
So, Bravo Disney. I think Herby would have been pleased. I know that I am.
Don't let the fact that this is a Disney movie deter you from watching
a thoroughly enjoyable and adult-level sports movie for two-plus hours.
Kurt Russell does an excellent job portraying coach Herb Brooks as a
complex and sometimes ruthless and inscrutable leader. Very
I am not a hockey fan - in fact I dislike the game intensely - yet I enjoyed the well-crafted scenes of competitive team play. Knowing the outcome of the BIG GAME did not detract at all from the excitement and suspense surrounding it. Sort of like the suspense Ron Howard achieved in Apollo 13 (where we knew in advance the outcome, but were worried about and later relieved for our astronauts).
A must-see for sports fans and non-fans alike.
I was too young to have known anything about this game when it was
played in real life, but it was definitely more than a game. It
concerned world politics and the cold war. The movie did a good job
showing how seemingly impossible it seemed for the young American team
to beat the best team in the world who had been playing together for 10
years. And Kurt Russell did a good job as the tough coach who was hard
on the players to get the most out of them. I also liked the way the
hockey games were filmed. I think hockey is the most boring sport and I
don't know any of the rules, but the way it was filmed let the least
knowlegdable person follow what was going on.
FINAL VERDICT: If you like sports movies, then don't miss this one.
'Miracles do happen', the announcer's original broadcast is heard
during the scenes recreated for this movie, 'Miracle.' Anyone who
remembers what happened during those Winter Olympics in 1980 will know
what this movie is about, and how it ends. However, there can be no
spoilers, because this is not a movie about a hockey game, or even the
sport of hockey. Nor is it about the players. It is solely about the
coach, Herb Brooks, who, with his unconventional style and wisdom about
the game, took these young hockey players to a level no one thought
possible. In the end it didn't really matter whether they won or lost
the game against the Russian. What mattered was that each of the 20
players found out what was possible inside himself.
The movie begins with a montage of scenes from the period, the years, leading up to the selection of the Olympic hockey team in the summer of 1979. The cold war. The oil shortage and long gasoline lines. The disgraced President Nixon. The embattled President Carter. The Russians invading Afganistan. Then we see coach Brooks doing it his own way. A year and a half of scouting, one day of try-outs, to pick the 26 players which would eventually be cut to 20 for the competition. The DVD extras show us how much went into making the movie faithful, including a session with Brooks himself, who died in an accident right after filming was wrapped up. A very fine movie of a very inspirational journey.
It's hard to recreate the magic of a once-in-a-lifetime event, but
Miracle comes pretty close.
It succeeds in recapturing the spirit of the times, the personality of coach Herb Brooks, the tension of the game, and the exhilaration of Al Michaels' famous call as the clock went to 0:00. While there are plenty of minor things I could quibble about, Miracle's ability to recapture the spirit of the Soviet upset makes it a success.
A movie about this subject could easily have been a stinker, but Miracle isn't that at all. It's a great sports movie that suffers only in comparison to the real story. I gave it 8/10.
I was wary at first of Disney production of this film. I didn't want the cheesy Mighty Ducks type of sports movie, especially when dealing with the awesome task completed by these players. I thought the film makers did a nice job and the movie itself was quite entertaining. I think it exposes a whole generation to the 1980 U.S. hockey team and what they accomplished. Even though I am not a fan of Kurt Russell, I thought he was very good as Herb Brooks. He had the mannerisms and the voice down very well. Russell is a huge hockey fan himself so I know it was honor for him to play Brooks. For die hard hockey fans, this movie will entertain and it does not poison the game action or what it is really like to play hockey.
MIRACLE, the Disney retelling of the U.S. Hockey squad's astonishing Gold
Medal performance at Lake Placid in 1980, is not a great film (a TV-movie
from 1981, "Miracle on Ice", despite the bizarre casting of 69-year old Karl
Malden as 43-year old coach Herb Brooks, is superior, although relying
heavily on TV footage for game sequences), but it does offer Kurt Russell in
one of the finest performances of his long career.
The 53-year old Russell, a life-long veteran of both TV and film (making his debut on a "Sugarfoot" TV episode, at age 6), has developed a reputation over the past two decades as a very competent, if not overpowering leading man, primarily in action films (ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, TOMBSTONE, BREAKDOWN) and comedies (USED CARS, CAPTAIN RON, OVERBOARD). What is often forgotten, however, is that he has remarkable 'range' as an actor, with brilliant performances in the TV-movie "Elvis" (1979), the underrated SWING SHIFT (1984, where he met his long-time love, Goldie Hawn), and 2003's DARK BLUE (as a crooked cop searching for redemption during the bloody aftermath of the Rodney King riots in L.A.). As age has carved his features, Russell has lost the "beach boy" glamor that had often 'stereotyped' him in the past, and gives his 'Herb Brooks' a sense of credibility and pain that lifts his performance to Academy Award caliber.
Herb Brooks was a remarkable person, long before Lake Placid. Despite success in coaching a string of national champion college hockey teams, he had never recovered from being the last player 'cut' from the 1960 Gold Medal U.S. hockey squad, and from being a member of the '64 and '68 teams that were humiliated by the Soviets. Driven by a desire to beat the nearly invincible Russian squad, he realized that a group of college 'all-stars' would never possess the 'team' skills to get the job done. Ruthlessly, refusing the assistance of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Committee, he pieced together a squad of talented skaters, 'broke' them, then remolded them to fit his vision, working them unmercifully for over six months, while spouting Vince Lombardi-like platitudes. Despite his torturous regimen, just days before the Olympics, his team would be humiliated by the Soviets, 10-3, and no one gave his squad a chance for a medal.
But Brooks had faith, and a squad that was 'hungry'...
While the film suffers from a lack of depth in the portrayal of the players (by the way, they do all their own skating; TV footage is not used), MIRACLE's 'feel' of the decade is well-done, using montages and voice-overs to convey the American sense of helplessness in a decade of tragedies. The unexpected U.S. victory galvanized the nation (Al Michaels' stunned reaction, "Do you believe in Miracles?", has become a catch phrase for both the game, and the times), and actually contributed to turning the country around.
While the Academy Awards will probably ignore Kurt Russell's commanding performance (as the film was not a 'hit'), MIRACLE is still a film worth viewing, given our own troubled times. While the film may not be 'great', it's message of hope is certainly worthwhile!
This was a pretty nice movie overall. It had its bad points but they
were more subtle. The good stuff was out in front: the realistic hockey
scenes and the inspiring true-life story of an amazing underdog sports
team pulling off the "miracle." That, of course, was the 1980 United
States Olympic hockey team winning the gold medal and along the way
becoming the first team in 20 years to defeat the Soviets.
The story also is about Herb Brooks, the coach of the team. Everything in here centers around him. Kurt Russell does a nice job playing him, although I don't understand the Polish accent Russell used. Why would Brooks have a Polish accent?
Over the years, sports movies - as in other genres - are becoming more and more realistic. This was about as good as it gets in that regard. A number of the actors are players, meaning they know how to skate. A documentary with the DVD shows the great lengths they went to in filming this in order make the action look realistic. It's not fake; these guys know how to play the game and the camera-work, along with the sound, is outstanding.
For a fairly long film (135 minutes) this film moves by fast and the drama is there but not super-intense since everyone knows the final result. The story is basically, as mentioned, about Brooks and the way he molded a group of kids together to play so well as a team. Many of his ideas would not have been implemented had others had a say, but Brooks proved them all wrong.
The only part of the film that was totally unnecessary was the typical Liberal slant that Hollywood just has to put in our faces every chance it gets. Here, they do it by quick cheap shots against Republican Presidents while airing an inspirational speech by Democrat Jimmy Carter. They have just stuck with the hockey angle, which the filmmakers here did extremely well. Still, it's a very good sports movie that even non- hockey fans should enjoy.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics, NBC broadcast a 30-minute documentary
piece on the 1980 US Olympic ice hockey team. While I knew the story of
how they beat the Soviets and won the Gold Medal (I had seen it live as
a kid), I was expecting some clichéd rhetoric about the team and what
they had done, akin to films like "Knute Rockne, All American" (1940)
and "Rocky" (1976). I was pleasantly surprised to find that the story
was anything but. The coach of that team, Herbert Brooks, was no
hackneyed clone of a Knute Rockne or a Vince Limbardo. Instead he was a
tight-fisted uncompromising hockey general who distanced himself from
his players, more like a Bobby Knight than a Knute. This was not
someone with whom teammates would feel comfortable having a beer.
Instead, his inspiration to the players came from the other direction,
by exposing their weaknesses and in some cases using unfairness and
resentment as anchors from which to get the best out of his players. I
decided that "Miracle" might be worth a look, especially as a prelude
to the US vs Canada in the gold medal round of 2010 Olympic Hockey.
Kurt Russell portrays Herbert Brooks as a lean and mean hockey coach who leaves sentimentality at the front door of the ice hockey rink. From the get-go he informs his players he's not there to be their friend. His goal is to let loose their highest playing potential coupled with the best conditioning among the Olympic hockey players at all costs. At times, he seems to be driving the players too hard well-beyond their comfort zones. Much of the story is the unconventional training techniques he uses to prepare the players for the 1980 Winter Olympics. According to the film, Brooks is relatively new to these techniques which he adopted while studying USSR hockey. His plan is to use the Soviets' techniques against them in the Olympics, which is not just about strategy but also about extreme discipline and an uncompromising tough sensibility akin to the military. One character points out that everything Brooks does has a purpose behind it.
The only short-coming in the script may be the portrayal of Brooks' wife who finds her relationship with her husband compromised, at least according to the film. I wondered if it played out in real life as in the film or if it was fabricated by the screenwriters. Too many sports movies have this sort of relationship with the wife acting as the balance between the obsessive coach and the needs of his family. She's been through this before. Why did she marry him in the first place? To be a successful account?
Certainly, most Americans know the outcome of the story, although the sequence of the game between the US and the Soviets is riveting and plays out about as well as the fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed. However, the meat of the story is really about the relationship between Brooks and his players, and the coach's single-minded determination to create the best Olympic team possible. By putting a certain amount of anger and determination into their hearts and heads, Brooks brings out the best in them, much like a sergeant in boot camp. The speech before the Americans played the Soviets is one of the better scenes of its type, leaving behind the "do it for the Gipper" silliness that has become a sports cliché. The only moment which was lacking in the film was the speech before the very final game when the US played Finland after the Soviets. In that speech, apparently Brooks told his team that if they didn't win, they would go to their graves regretting the missed opportunity. I would have liked to have seen Russell give that speech as well. Apparently Herb Brooks died before the principal shooting of this film had ended, and the film is dedicated to him. Just about as fitting a tribute as a coach could ask for.
In 1980, Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), a former Olympics hockey player cut from the winning 1960 U.S. team, put together a ragtag band of college hockey players, taking them to the Winter Olympics at Lake Placid to face the seemingly invincible Russian hockey team, winners of four successive gold medals. Miracle tells the true story of how they worked together to defy the odds working against them. Everyone likes a good upset especially when they can cheer on the winning team. Miracle gives you that story and its a nice film to watch with your family. I don't watch hockey because I don't really like it and its just not very appealing to me. But there's things that non-hockey fans can enjoy from this film. I liked the determination from the team and the inspiration the coach gave to them. Kurt Russell does an awesome job as Herb Brooks, probably his best performance in a long time. Patricia Clarkson does a good job playing his wife and all the players on the team aren't bad either. The one actor that was bad was Noah Emmerich, he just showed little to no emotion and didn't really put in a good effort. This wouldn't had been a problem if he had a small role but he was the assistant coach. Miracle is directed by Gavin O'Connor and he does a good job. The hockey itself wasn't actually that bad as some scenes of the game were pretty cool. The focus is on mainly on Russell and while you learn some stuff about the players it would had been nice if they had shifted some of the attention on them as well. The screenplay may be filled with clichés but the film does it right even if it feels like you have seen it before because you probably have. The film is 135 minutes long and for me it started dragging a little and getting kind of boring. The movie is also predictable so the ending game as well as the entire movie isn't really suspenseful. The focus is more on beating Russia then actually winning the medal. When they do play in the final game and win the medal, they only show them scoring the winning shot. After that Kurt Russell starts talking saying how they won the last game by coming up from behind. While we know the outcome to the whole thing it still would had been nice if they had added a few more scenes. Its also better then The Mighty Ducks but that's not a hard thing to do. Rating 7/10 a treat for hockey fans and a film that a normal movie-goer can enjoy.
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