We Are Marshall is a seemingly formulaic sports drama that nonetheless creates the appropriate amount of heartache and inspiration to rise above the sum of its parts. The initial crash, though offscreen, is traumatic in its effect upon the characters: mothers, fathers, fiancées, sons, daughters, and guilt-racked survivors.
The mourning community is populated by skilled actors, including Ian McShane as a grieving father, David Strathairn as Don Dedmon, and Matthew Fox as Red Dawson. Being a huge fan of Lost, I found it enjoyable to see Fox, who played a different Jack throughout the hit series, in another role.
While Matthew McConaughey received praise for his portrayal of Jack Lengyel and recently won an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, I didn’t care for him at first. His folksy quirkiness is at times more annoying than likable, but he grows into the character nicely by the end. Still, in Lengyel’s scenes with Red, I can’t help but feel that Matthew Fox seems to be more of an Oscar-worthy actor than McConaughey.
The film has some memorable and often funny training montages to great ‘70s music, as well as a number of cameos by various notable coaches and other famous people. Another thing I liked was the fact that Lengyel never promised miracles and never delivered any. Yet, despite all the pain Huntington, West Virginia endured, Marshall’s Thundering Herd went on to achieve great success, titles that would have never been won had the town just given up after the crash. While there is no real mention of God amidst the tragedy, some scenes in a church reveal the town nevertheless sought comfort in the Lord.
We Are Marshall may not be a perfect film, but it possesses some undeniably powerful moments, such as when a rival college’s players are shown with crosses on their helmets in solidarity with Marshall, plus a rousing ending that proves that a tragic loss need not define one’s future.
Best line: (Jack Lengyel) “Ya see, Red, it doesn’t matter if we win, or if we lose. It’s not even about how we play the game. What matters is that we play the game. That we take the field. That we suit up on Saturdays and we keep this program alive. We play the game, and, Red, I’m tellin’ ya one day… not today, not tomorrow. Not this season probably. Not next season either, but one day you and I are gonna wake up suddenly; we’re gonna be like every other team, in every other sport where winning is everything, and nothing else matters. When that day comes… well, that’s when we’ll honor them.”Artistry: 6 Characters/Actors: 7 Entertainment: 6 Visual Effects: 5 Originality: 5 Watchability: 6 Other (brief language): -2 TOTAL: 33 out of 60
Next: #280 – A Bug’s Life
© 2014 S. G. Liput