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cast: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah Emmerich, Sean McCann, and Kenneth Walsh

director: Gavin O'Conner

135 minutes (PG) 2004
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Walt Disney DVD Region 2 rental / retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Emily Webb
The true story of Herb Brooks, the player turned coach who led the 1980 US hockey team into competition against the seemingly unbeatable Soviets...

This is a quality production from Disney that has all the ingredients a sports movie should have - conflict, passion and underdogs. In this case, the US hockey team competing at the 1980 Winter Olympics. The film's title comes from broadcaster Al Michaels' now famous question, to the millions viewing Team USA's victory, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" Millions of Americans were transfixed by the team's rise to victory over the Russians, which is said to have restored a new sense of hope to the country in a downbeat mood post-Watergate and experiencing a loss of faith about her future.

The drama centres on Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) transforming a bunch of college hockey players into Olympic champions. (The real Brooks died in a car accident shortly after filming completed). Russell gives a commanding and emotionally guarded performance as Brooks. (Lots of close-ups of Russell's craggy face and helmet hair.) The ever-excellent and, in my opinion, underused, Patricia Clarkson (Pieces Of April, The Station Agent) is seamless as Brooks' wife Patty and actor's actor Noah Emmerich (Beautiful Girls, The Truman Show) provides excellent support as his assistant Craig.

I enjoyed this film because - despite some tried and true Disney-sized portions of cheese - it is authentic to the period in which it is set. From the costumes and hairstyles (sexy zip-front, polyester tracksuits and plaid suit jackets) to the effective integration of world events as background to the action on the ice, conveying the significance of the team's victory. The Soviets are portrayed stereotypically as severe, emotionless robots and the hockey scenes are fast and furious. It leaves you soaring with US-style patriotism... then feeling guilty for it.

DVD extras: a featurette, The Making Of Miracle.

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