The Winter Olympics start this week, and though some people see this as an opportunity to celebrate global harmony through sport, others see it as a reason to compile a list of movies. Some of these are masterpieces, and some are abominations, but they all have one thing in common: They are all better than the biathlon. So here they are, from best to worst: Miracle
Gavin O'ConnorStarring: Kurt Russell
, Patrick O'Brien Demsey
When a movie is based on true events, it often means that those events have been long-forgotten or ignored. Not so with Miracle, which is actually overshadowed by the event that it portrays. The U.S. men's hockey team's improbable victory at the 1980 Olympics is perhaps the greatest moment that American sports have ever seen. For the movie, this is both a blessing and a curse: On the one hand, Miracle can't take too many liberties with a story that so many people love and revere. On the other, the story is so incredible, there's no need to take liberties at all.
Miracle is a great movie because it strikes the perfect balance between sports and life. Though the story happens in Cold War America, the movie never becomes political. Though the story is about a hockey game, the movie does not overwhelm the screen with sports. Instead, it focuses on the players, the coaches, and the aspects of athletic greatness that can be applied to every part of life.
This is not a movie about a hockey game; this is a movie that climaxes with a hockey game. By the time the "miracle" takes place, the audience has seen how hard the players work, how often they persevere, and how much they sacrifice to make their dream come true. Though the ice rink is their stage, Miracle's message reaches much further: If they did it, you can too, no matter what your miracle might be.
Jon TurteltaubStarring: John Candy
, Doug E. Doug
Everyone loves a good underdog story, and Cool Runnings is one of the best. Based (loosely) on the story of the first Jamaican bobsled team to go to the Winter Olympics, it is a funny, inspirational movie that all audiences can enjoy.
Before we get into the strengths of this film (and it has plenty), let me acknowledge that this is not the most technically or stylistically impressive movie that Hollywood has ever made. It's not going to win any awards, and it's not going to be on any Top Five lists (unless they're incredibly specific, like this one). That said, Cool Runnings does the most important thing that a movie can do: It entertains. It keeps the audience involved. It makes the audience root for the main characters. Though the acting isn't great, it's good enough, and though it's not the funniest of movies, the humor does carry the plot with an ease that puts Blades of Glory to shame. None of the laughs in this movie are forced; they all happen naturally, and fit right into the story's flow.
Cool Runnings also boasts one of the best climactic scenes of any sports movie ever made. I don't care who you are or what you've been through, watching the last scene of this movie will inspire you to go out and accomplish something. If it doesn't, you have no soul, and you should probably be working on that instead of watching movies in the first place.Ice Castles
Taylor Firth, Rob Mayes
Ice Castles is a remake of a 1978 movie
of the same title, and it is actually a story worth retelling. A young undiscovered skater bursts onto the competitive scene, has a tragic accident that leaves her blind, then perseveres (with her boyfriend's help) and fulfills her dream of competing successfully on a national stage.
This movie's main problem is one of extremes: At different times, it is either too romantic, too serious, or too creepy. The movie never seems to find itself, and so it's impossible to settle completely into the story. Though there are a good number of scenes which feel right, there are an equal number which feel wrong, and the audience remains constantly in limbo, never quite absent, but never quite there.
To its credit, Ice Castles does succeed in portraying the central relationship, even as it struggles to piece together everything else. The depiction of first-year-in-college love is dead on, from the corny, prolonged goodbyes to the ridiculous argument starters. This makes it a good date movie, as it brings back fond memories of constantly checking for messages and fighting over Facebook statuses.
This movie could have been better, but it also could have been worse, and in the end it's kind of like a college relationship itself: Overall satisfying, but with some parts that just don't make sense. The Cutting Edge
Paul Michael GlaserStarring: D.B. Sweeney
, Moira Kelly
The Cutting Edge actually gets off to a good start, introducing main character Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) in a subtly hilarious scene where he oversleeps on the day of the Olympics because he spent the night with a German girl whose name he can't remember. This scene, unfortunately, is the high point of the movie, so it should be clear what kind of mediocrity we'll be dealing with from here on out.
This movie's biggest problem is a lack of originality, and the predictable storyline can be summed up like this: Hockey player boy has an accident and loses peripheral vision, which means he can't play hockey anymore. Figure skating girl is a bitch, and so can't find a partner to skate with. Stereotypical Russian skating coach has a crazy idea, and decides to pair half-blind hockey boy with all-bitch skating girl. As time passes, they fall in love, and take on the Olympic skating world together.
Besides the cookie-cutter plot, The Cutting Edge also suffers from bad acting and poor continuity. The final product looks terrible, and has no business on a big screen, in a video store, or anywhere except maybe UPN on a Sunday afternoon. It is a painfully standard, unimaginative sports/romance/comedy that made me want to swear off athletics, dating, and laughter for the rest of my life. Blades of Glory
Josh Gordon, Will SpeckStarring: Will Ferrell
, Jon Heder
This may be the worst movie ever made.
Blades of Glory isn't funny, it isn't amusing, it isn't even mildly entertaining. It's one and a half hours of annoying, punctuated by brief moments of awkwardness and discomfort. I laughed once during the entire movie, twice if you count a chuckle. Other than that, I spent my time wondering why people keep going to Will Ferrell and Jon Heder movies. Could it be that this is the most socially acceptable way of laughing at the mentally ill?
Image © PR Photos
I don't even know how to summarize this film, because there isn't a coherent plotline. The movie plays out like a random assortment of scenes that someone thought would be funny, and maybe they could have been, had they been performed by actors with talent. There is no characterization, no plausible back story, and no reason to care about anything that happens on the screen. The only bright spots are Will Arnett
and Amy Poehler
, who portray the villains about as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Unfortunately, they do not get nearly enough screen time to save this debacle of a movie.
Story by Jose Flores
Starpulse contributing writer