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A movie directed by Gavin O'Connor

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Although parts play like a Movie of the Week, Miracle delivers.

  • Feb 6, 2004
Pros: Russell and nostalgia.

Cons: No substance given to supporting roles.

The Bottom Line: A rousing and enjoyable film that although light, delivers the goods.

In 1980, America was in a state of transition and turmoil as political events threatened world stability. The Reagan era was just starting but the nation was still trying to deal with economic issues as well as the Iran hostage crisis, and long gas lines.

As if those issues were not enough, the Cold War was still in full swing and tensions had mounted due to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Against this backdrop, coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), is busy preparing a team of college Hockey players to represent the United States in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Since the Olympics were being held in Lake Placid New York, the pressure was on for the U.S. team to make a respectable showing as the Olympic committee did not want the team to be embarrassed in front of the home crowd.

This was a task easier said than done, as the young players would be facing the best the world could throw at them, including the invincible Russian team that had not lost a game in 15 years and had recently handily defeated a team of NHL All Stars. The Russians like many of the teams that the Americans would face had played with each other for years and were like well-oiled machines in comparison to the assembled Americans who had less than a year to prepare.

The early part of the film focuses on the team selection process and Brook’s constant pushing of the team mentally and physically, even when it is to the dismay of his assistant coaches and disdain of his players. The audience is introduced to the players but they are never given much depth as the story focuses on Brooks and his desire to beat the Russians.

The later part of the film deals with the warm up games the team faced and then swings into the Olympics and the march to glory. The games are recreated mainly in highlight format as the focus of the films game recreation is saved for the dramatic and emotional game with the Russians. The action is fast and furious and is very accurate to the actual game itself.

While very emotional and entertaining, much of “Miracle” unfolds like a movie of the week. Russell does a great job as Brooks, but the supporting cast is not given any chance to shine. Patricia Clarkson is wasted in the role of Mrs. Brooks as she is not given much to do other than utter a few lines of encouragement and be the wife by the side of the coach.

All that being said, “Miracle;” is an uplifting and enjoyable look back at arguably the greatest moment in U.S. sports history. The film does stir the emotions and those of us who were old enough to remember the huge shot of patriotic pride that enveloped the land during those magical two weeks and how that team gave a nation renewed hope for the future and made us feel good just when we needed it the most.

3 stars out of 5

Gareth Von Kallenbach



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More Miracle reviews
review by . May 10, 2010
      This review was written after my mother passed, the first one after.      MIRACLE       There are two things that lead me to write this review, the most important being that this film was one of my mom's favorites. She passed away recently after 13 years of battling various types of cancer [no lie, multiple]. The second being that the winter Olympics just passed with the US doing very well in hockey, in this true story they went all …
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Go USA! =)
review by . January 04, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
I am not a sports fan. Period. I'll watch the occasional few minutes of Michael Jordan in a tense playoff or a fantastically close Super Bowl on occasion, but beyond that, I have no interest.     I do find few movies about the fanatics who drives themselves to excel interesting or the fanatics who drive people to excel, to go far beyond what they themselves thought possible.     That's what "Miracle" is all about, a coach named Herb Brooks who drove a group …
review by . March 03, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
1979-1980 was a critical time in U.S. history. In fact, the post-9/11 world in which we now live in many ways resembles the beginning of that fateful decade. The Middle East was in turmoil and terrorists had hijacked a plane with a bunch of American citizens and was holding them hostage. People were afraid of traveling overseas because of the threat and gas shortages and prices caused people to begin carpooling, walking, and biking to work. The Cold War had been going on for almost 35 years without …
review by . September 04, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Miracle is the true story of the "Miracle on Ice" when the1980 US Olympic hockey team won the gold medal by defeating the Soviet Union and Finland. This movie centers around the coach, Herb Brooks, and how he steered his team to the gold medal. It certainly brings back all the nostalgia of that hockey team and is a fun movie to watch.     The extra features, especially the ESPN round table with Kurt Russell who played Herb Brooks, and three of the real players, including goalie …
review by . June 14, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Absolutely not! "Miracle" takes a simple hockey game(a sport deemed regional to this day), and shows viewers how it not only captivated a nation, but also how a game can come to represent change.This is a highly motivational film, full of subplots involving many of the characters and political undertones. When you boil down to it, though, this is a movie about Americans being Americans. Unlike most films, this one shows the Soviets as the arrogant, unstoppable force. Soviet hockey was exactly that …
About the reviewer
Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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About this movie


The miracle aboutMiracleis that it gets so many details right in telling its 24-year-old story about the historic victory of the U.S. hockey team at the 1980 Olympic Games. It's typical for Hollywood to compromise such period details as hairstyles and fashion when catering to a contemporary audience, butMiraclelooks and feels right in every detail, capturing the downbeat mood of post-Watergate America while showing how obsessively determined Minnesota hockey coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) managed to assemble a once-in-a-lifetime team and whip them into a victorious frenzy over their Soviet champion opponents. With sharp support from Patricia Clarkson (as Brooks's wife) and Noah Emmerich (as his long-suffering assistant), Russell grounds the film with a well-balanced combination of aloofness, intimidation, and closely guarded strategy. No doubt the real Brooks (who died in a car accident shortly after filming completed) would have approved. Thanks to director Gavin O'Connor (Tumbleweeds) and the producers of the similarly laudable sports filmsRemember the TitansandThe Rookie,Miraclebrings plenty of heart--and historical accuracy--to an old, familiar formula.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Gavin O'Connor
Genre: Drama, Family, History, Sport
Release Date: 6 February 2004 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG
Screen Writer: Eric Guggenheim
Runtime: 135 min
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