Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Miracle (2004) – The US Versus the World, 1980

Written by Eric Guggenheim
Directed by Gavin O’Connor

I remember the Olympics in 1980 quite well, being more impressed with Eric Heiden’s performance than anything else. The U.S. Hockey team didn’t even grab my attention until more than halfway through the games, probably because so little was expected of them.  This is why what they accomplished is so amazing.

Miracle is based on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team.  Kurt Russell stars as Herb Brooks, the coach that would lead them to an unprecedented victory in the games.  It wasn’t just that they got the gold medal, but that they beat what everyone thought was the unstoppable Soviet hockey team.

Opens with the dramas of the decade before, shown in abstract film clips and headlines.  There’s a little background on Herb Brooks, so hopefully viewers will grasp just why coaching this team meant so much to him.  The film details him being named coach and building the team. His training methods might be questionable to some, but he delivered the results no one was expecting.

I thought Miracle was quite good.  It didn’t sugar-coat the story.  Brooks’ assistant coach, Craig Patrick (portrayed by Noah Emmerich) doesn’t see eye to eye with Brooks a number of times nor does he agree with his methods.  Brooks’ wife Patty (portrayed by Patricia Clarkson) also becomes aggravated by the way she sees her husband change during his time as coach of the team.  All of the acting is great and really gives an idea of the process leading up to the games.

What’s missing here is more on the players.  With the main focus being on Brooks, most of the players’ stories are lost.  For instance, it’s shown that Mike Eruzione (portrayed by Patrick Demsey) is named the team captain, but it’s hard to understand why he was chosen for this honor as he’s not the strongest player.  The backstory of what led them to this choice is never presented except for a few clips here and there.

Some of the reason for this might be in that casting the players in the film was done a bit differently.  Instead of casting actors and teaching them to play hockey, in this case they had to try out as hockey players before they were allowed to audition as actors.  This might be why the movie chose to limit the screen time for the players, although they do an adequate job when they are on-screen.

The disc I had only had one featurette on the making of the film along with a decent audio commentary track. There are discs on the market with more bonus material which I think would be more helpful for some people who don’t understand the background as to why this was such a huge deal for the U.S. Hockey Team. Either way, this is a great film.


· The Making of Miracle
• Audio Commentary with Director Gavin O’Connor, Director of Photography Daniel Stoloff, and Editor John Gilroy

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