(aka 'Untitled Marshall University Football Project')
We Are Marshall is
precisely what one expects from a true sports story: it's uplifting and
inspiring. Although the film does not ascend to the pinnacle of its genre
(arguably occupied by
Hoosiers), it's not too far down the mountain and the added ingredient
of a town's grief allows director McG to explore some issues not normally
tackled in this sort of motion picture. We Are Marshall stays
surprisingly true to the facts, keeping embellishments to the minimum necessary
to make the story cinematic. (The opening caption states "This is a true story"
not "This is based on a true story" or "This is inspired by a true story.") As
feel-good stories go, this is more successful than some of its higher profile
On November 14, 1970, a chartered plane crashed just short of an airport in West Virginia. On board were 37 players and six coaches from the Marshall Thundering Herd varsity football team, as well as the school's athletic director and various influential supporters. While many individual high-profile athletes have died over the years as a result of plane crashes (Roberto Clemente, Thurman Munson, Payne Stewart…) , the November 1970 incident marks one of the few times when an accident has wiped out an entire organization. (This has happened to several soccer teams as well as the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating team.)
We Are Marshall opens on the fatal day, showing the Marshall team losing their game, boarding the plane then never arriving home. In the wake of the accident, the initial impulse is to suspend the program. However, a rally organized by one of the surviving players, Nate Ruffin (Anthony Mackie), who did not make the trip due to an injury, prompts University President Donald Dedmon (David Strathairn) to change his mind. Several prominent citizens, including Paul Griffen (Ian McShane), whose son died on the plane, oppose Dedmon's change of heart. After feelers to numerous "name" coaches are rejected, Dedmon is forced to settle for Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey). Lengyel lures back Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), the only living member of the previous staff (he elected to drive rather than fly). Red, however, is haunted by survivor guilt. Using players from the junior varsity squad, incoming freshmen, and players from other sports, Lengyel builds a team for the 1971 season, but a single question hangs over the endeavor: Is fielding a team with little chance to win honoring the dead or mocking them?
Theatrical Release: December 12th, 2006
DVD Review: Warner - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.15 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
|Subtitles||English, English (CC), French, Spanish, None|
- Legendary Coaches (36:56)
The Warner DVD is as competent as you might have anticipated - progressively transferred, anamorphic on a dual-layered disc. It looks pretty spectacular - bright, vibrant colors, strong detail and not a glaring artifacts in sight. But I've been in the woods before and suspect the HD and Blu-ray will eclipse it visually (there is some room for improvement). The 5.1 track is very buoyant and is notable in a number of scenes - there are optional English, English (Close Captioned), French or Spanish subtitles offered. Technically this DVD is quite impressive and the image is as pristine as I can recall seeing for an SD disc - and as one would expect for such a modern film there are no visible damage marks or deficiencies of that nature.
I would have expected a commentary (or 2-disc effort) for a strong push in the sale of this DVD but there is none and the only real extra is 35 minute featurette - Legendary Coaches - How Coaches Overcome Adversity. It starts off with director McG discussing the attributes of; compassion for their players and dedication to their team with excerpts of clips from such notable coaches as Bobby Bowden (the winningest coach in NCAA Division I football), George Horton and Lute Olson. Unfortunately the DVD starts with a long cheesy advert for West Virginia (hosted by the stars of the film) and another on the NFL called 'America's Game' (what is that all about?) and finally a trailer for a X-mas film. You can chapter stop through them.
The film: Well, I must admit I was won over to some degree by this effort. This is by no means a great film and tends to take itself a little too seriously at times but the general 'feel' is an uplifting one despite its mainstream obviousness. I suspect those purchasing will get exactly what they expect. It's a big, competent production - full of the game of football with Homer-like heroic 'spirit of competition' ideals approaching it from another unique angle of course... and the fact that the whole thing purports to be a true story - this would be another of the film's virtues. Yeah - worth a spin for sure!