White Men Can’t Jump (1992)

whiteDirector: Ron Shelton

Writer: Ron Shelton (Screenplay)

Starring: Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez, Tyra Ferrell, Cylk Cozart, Kadeem Hardison

 

Plot: Black and white basketball hustlers join forces to double their chances.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Great Sports Drama Comedy

 

Story: White Men Can’t Jump starts when we see Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) arriving at Venice Beach a notorious black man basketball court where Sidney Deane (Snipes) is a known hustler on the court. Billy looking completely out of place gets one over Sidney as was a former college player who needs to make a fast buck for himself and his girlfriend Gloria (Perez).

Sidney sees the skills Billy has and talks him into working as a partnership using Billy’s skills and Sidney’s connections to make the money fast. The two have their differences along the way but must put everything between in the background to win the new tournament that will help the both with their financial issues.

 

Thoughts on White Men Can’t Jump

 

Characters/PerformanceSidney is the streetwise hustler that has the gift of the talking his way out of any situation. Sidney can go on the court but he is also a very good businessman trying to support his family. Billy is terrible with money but a great basketball player, he is hustling to clear a debt to supporting his girlfriend who is also a firecracker who dream of being on jeopardy.

Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson are fantastic as the unlikely couple of hustlers showing they have chemistry to pull off every scene they are in. Rosie Perez brings the fire needed for her role as she helps Woody look all the more innocent in the role.stars

StoryThe story is easy to follow and shows how two men from difference backgrounds can work together to aim for the same thing once they put their difference behind them. We get to see the strong sides to both men as well as their weakness which is important for us to see as everything unfolds. I think this is an important story for people who need to learn to work as a team both on the court and off.

Comedy/SportsWe do get laughs coming through this film which is all good to enjoy, we also get to see the streets style of basketball where not everything is as planned to be as clean as professional basketball.

SettingsNearly the whole film is set in LA where we do spend a lot of time on the wrong sides of the tracks for Billy but this shows how honest these men can be on the court.genre

Final ThoughtsThis is a good time film that is well worth a watch by all the fans of the actors, the sport and comedy dramas.

 

Overall: A film that can be enjoyed by all that see it.

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Chariots of Fire (1981)

chaiotsDirector: Hugh Hudson

Writer: Colin Welland (Screenplay)

Starring: Nicholas Farrell, Nigel Havers, Ian Charleson, Ben Cross, Daniel Gerroll, Ian Holm

 

Plot: Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Dated Sports Biopic

 

Story: Chariots of Fire starts in 1919 Cambridge University as we follow Harold Abrahams (Cross), and Aubrey Montague (Farrell) in the elite university of England. Here we get to see how fast the Jewish Harold is, also in Scotland we get to see Eric Liddell (Charleson) a rugby player turned runner that is also in the elite of the racing speed but he is a devote Christian who doesn’t believe in playing sports on a Sunday.

What follows is seeing the paths both Eric and Harold take to become the best in the nation as they become favourites for the British team heading into the Olympics. The two become rivals but their own personal beliefs could become a barrier in going for the gold medal.

 

Thoughts on Chariots of Fire

 

Characters/PerformanceHaving the characters based on the real people makes it difficult to say anything bad about them, we have two men who have been forced to put aside their difference in religious beliefs to make an impact on the sport they love taking part in. this is a story of success which is easy to enjoy for all that are involved.

Performance wise everything is good without being anything truly special by anyone involved through the film.stars

StoryThis is a story about how two men put aside their difference to make their way to the top of the sport of athletes, it is easy to follow but does come off slightly too posh in places when you look at how the British come off.

Biography/SportsLooking into the way we follow the two men’s journey to the Olympics we get to see how the races unfold which is all good but I would say this is one of the more average biopics that I have seen.

SettingsThe settings show us the upper classes going into the sport of running, which is all good with the races at the Olympics coming off great for settings.genre

Final ThoughtsMy final thoughts are that this is slightly too British showing you had to come from money to achieve in sports at this time, I also don’t feel the film does enough to show us all of the characters involved.

 

Overall: Nice but no cigar especially when we prefer the struggle to make it and become the story of success, rather than the winner.

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Original v Remake Weekend – Rollerball (2002)

rllerDirector: John McTiernan

Writer: Larry Ferguson, John Pogue (Screenplay) William Harrison (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Chris Klein, Jean Reno, LL Cool J, Rebecca Romijn, Naveen Andrews Oleg Takarov

 

Plot: The big thing in 2005 is a violent sport which can have some pretty serious consequences… like dying.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Social Commentary 101

 

Story: Rollerball starts as we see aimless extreme sports lover Jonathan Cross (Klein) taking part in a boarding race through the streets of San Francisco only to be saved by his old friend Marcus Ridley (Cool J) who offers him a chance to take part in Rollerball in Central Asia where he can make a fortune for a couple of seasons work.

The sport is mostly hosted in Kazakhstan which while isn’t related to the film this does sum up big sports being offered major deals in Asia in the likes of football and cricket. Anyway, back to the story, Jonathan has become an overnight success in the sport and new favourite for owner Alexis Petrovich (Reno) with the sponsorship money pouring through Jonathan becomes the star for the whole crowd.

When the sport continues to draw a large audience with the violence we get to see just how deadly this sport can become as Jonathan’s popularity sky rockets he gets to live the life of luxury, fast cars, beautiful women and parties, but looking past this life Jonathan can see the problems within the country and with the sport he has become the star off.

 

Thoughts on Rollerball

 

Characters/PerformanceJonathan being made out to be the naïve extreme sports player works for this version of the film because he is the one that can see the problems in the sport he is the star of but isn’t able to take on what could easily be a dictator for the nation involved. Marcus is the best friend in the sport that is wiser to the country as well as happier to turn away from the problems he has seen. Aurora is your standard love interest with a dark past where she finds from the world. Alexis is the all powerful owner of the sport and what feel like the country that is desperate to be as rich as possible.

Performance wise Chris Klein does struggle to be the lead this film needs in places, but does pull the naïve side off well just not the action man lead. LL Cool J is fun as the best friend role while Rebecca Romijn does work for the love interest. Jean Reno does a good job as the power-hungry owner too. The rest of the supporting cast are all good without being scene stealers.stars

StoryThe story here is different in enough places from the original to only really use the sport as the remaining elements from the original. This time the sport has only just started to take off, the money is in it but the story focuses on the idea the sport is about to become the biggest sport in the world because of the nearly acquired blood lust of the audience, with the star player seeing this and wanting out and to stop this change to the sport. We get the feeling the rest of the world gets when they see the billionaires in similar countries spending money on sports when the rest of the country is struggle to make ends meet.

Action/Sci-Fi/SportsThe action is bigger and bloodier than the original film which shows how the fans will be drawn to the blood sport. The sports side is all entertaining for the fans.

SettingsThe settings are based in Asia showing how that is the new future for high paying sports owned by corrupt billionaire.

Special EffectsThe special effects for this film are all good but the night shot tries to be different and looks very difficult to watch.genre

Final ThoughtsI do have a personal soft spot for this movie and I can see why people don’t like it, but this is one film you can switch your brain off and enjoy the mad over the top entertainment.

 

Overall: Simple and enjoyable sports action movie.

Ratingrating

 

 

Original v Remake Weekend – Rollerball (1975)

rollerballDirector: Norman Jewison

Writer: William Harrison (Screenplay)

Starring: James Caan, John Houseman, Maud Adams, John Beck, Moses Gunn, Pamela Hensley

 

Plot: In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Entertaining Sci-Fi Sports Film

 

Story: Rollerball starts as we get to see how the sport of Rollerball is played with the star of the league Jonathan E (Caan) and his team picking up another win in the league. The sport of Rollerball is a mix of roller-skating, motorcycling and fighting diving into the violent desires of the audience.

Star player of the Houston team Jonathan E has the attention of the owner of the sport Bartholomew (Houseman)) who will be giving Jonathan his own show looking at his career as the team prepares for semi-finals of the season.

When the powers that be want to change the face of the sport they want Jonathan to retire from the game for the greater good for the world. When Jonathan doesn’t want follow through the league gets new deadlier rules Jonathan and his team must overcome the odds against them to win the title and bring down the corporations running the league.

 

Thoughts on Rollerball

 

Characters/PerformanceJonathan E is the star of a world-famous sport, he teaches up and coming players the game, while being a brilliant face for the sport for the media. He winning mentality is a threat to the people who run the sport but he will fight for trophies and his team mate’s lives. Bartholomew is your typical businessman owner of the league who wants to dictate how the league is run as well as not having anyone bigger than the sport.

Performance wise James Caan is great in the lead role showing the physical side of the sport as well as the brains to want to understand the bigger picture. John Houseman works as the businessman character too showing how corrupt the sport can become. Looking into the rest of the cast they all give good performances too.stars

StoryThe story shows once more a future world where people have found a dangerous sport to turn too while the rest of the world is under control from the corporate leaders. This at the core of the story is the look into one man having to stand up against these people to give the people of the world hope for the future that they won’t be controlled by the corporations.

Action/Sci-Fi/Sports – The action is big and grows through each game on the level of violence being taken into the game, we are kept on the edge through each game to see what the next big hit will be. The sci-fi side of the story comes from where the world is now turning to a sport to get them through their days.

SettingsThe Rollerball arena is a brilliant creation that shows just how deadly the sport can be, we also have plenty of futuristic looking settings showing us how this future will look.

Special EffectsAll the effects are well created to show the brutality of the sport with each game becoming more violent.genre

Final ThoughtsThis film is long and does play into the idea of corporate fear taking over the world nicely, the sport is entertaining to watch with the violent nature it has making it all come together to be an entertaining film.

 

Overall: This is a film that stands up there with the best of the sci-fi world created.

Ratingrating

 

 

Million Dollar Arm (2014)

millionDirector: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Tom McCarthy (Screenplay)

Starring: Joe Hamm, Aasif Mandvi, Alan Arkin, Lake Bell, Tzi Ma, Bill Paxton, Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal

 

Plot: A sports agent stages an unconventional recruitment strategy to get talented Indian cricket players to play Major League Baseball.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: What Sports is All About

 

Story: Million Dollar Arm starts JB (Hamm) a sports agent trying to make his own company reach new levels with his partner Aash (Mandvi) only to find himself stuck behind the higher-level competition. Losing the star client to the competition the two search for a new potential income as they search for new clients in new fields.

JB new idea is to bring over Indian cricket players and turn them into baseball pitchers within a year and recruiting pitching coach Tom House (Paxton) now he needs to find a scout to travel with him to find the best prospect.

JB must work with Vivek (Jariwala) to get his equipment retired scout Ray (Arkin) and Amit (Pitobash) a baseball coach in India who wants to work him for free. The search for the Million Dollar Arm is on sweeping through India. With the competition in full flow they find two players Rinku (Sharma) and Dinesh (Mittal) to take back to America.

As the two boys struggle with the new culture JB must keep the business together while the two players must learn to improve their skill in 6 months can it be done and the seemingly impossible risk can become sports new miracle.

 

Thoughts on Million Dollar Arm

 

StoryThe story follows the true story of how one sports agent takes the chance to bring Indian crickets to America to become baseball pitchers. On the surface this is a marketing campaign but the story itself gather heart because of the bond between JB and the boys. This is an underdog sports story with glimpses of the clash of culture between both sides of the world. This shows you can succeed with the effort and determination of the people who support you and that you could find success in any story.

Sports/DramaThe sports drama is very interesting because baseball isn’t a sport I have any interest in watching but the scouting and training in any sport do interest me a lot, this had my full attention as we see how it can be the personal life that cane make you a better athlete when it comes to competing because having the people supporting you can make you succeed.

Characters/PerformanceJon Hamm as the selfish sports agent that takes a risk with a new investment but his character never seems to support the boys he takes the risk on once they are back in America. Jon Hamm give us a great performance stepping up from television to the big screen. Sharman, Mittal, Pitobash, Mandvi and Jariwala all give great performances in their roles as we see the characters must deal with a new culture as well as new sport in what is a once in a life time opportunity. Alan Arkin has a small role but gets good laughs as the retired scout.

SettingsThe settings are used excellently with to show the different cultures being used through the film as we see the American fast forward glamorous lifestyle while India shows how together the people are with the religious beliefs going on there.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very interesting and compelling sports drama about showing how you can achieve what seems impossible to others by just take the chance, I feel everyone who likes a success story will enjoy this one even if you are not a baseball fan.

 

Overall: Delightful sports drama that can be enjoyed by all.

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