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Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.


Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris


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Movie review

'Miracle' makes you a believer

By BILLY NORRIS
Published February 9, 2004

hockey team on ice
[Walt Disney Pictures]
U.S. coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell, center) leads his college hockey players to victory against the mighty Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Miracle.

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Miracle

Rating: PG

Summary: Miracle is the retelling of what was considered by some to be the single greatest sports moment in the 20th century. Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is a husband, father and highly ambitious hockey coach with a huge heart and a voracious appetite for success. He is hired to coach the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, based on his vision of a hybrid style of the game - mixing the traditional Canadian style with the rough, harsh Russian style. His young team comprises some of the country's most skilled amateur athletes. But the players' skills are far surpassed by those of their opponents, especially the Soviets. The team, led by Rob McClanahan (Nathan West), Jack O'Callahan (Michael Mantenuto) and Mike Eruzione (Patrick O'Brien Demsey), has a number of social differences to overcome. Their fortitude and resilience is tested continually, right up to the final moment of the final game against Finland in the 1980 Olympics. It is Brooks' take-no-prisoners approach to pushing his team beyond its limit that eventually leads it to unexpected heights.

My view: What an incredible film this is! Even if you are not a hockey fan, it doesn't matter; it transcends the sports theme. This film instills a sense of deep-rooted American pride in you as you observe the trials and tribulations of this young team. The teammates melded together on screen as if they were the real 1980 team. Their relationships are intense and believable. It was not difficult to sense the dedication and commitment to making this film a completely accurate re-creation of not only the game and the original team but of the time period. The whole aura of the 1980s was captured in a way that pulls you into it. This was especially apparent in Russell's performance; he spent three months skating every day, and studying tapes of the real Herb Brooks (who was killed in an automobile accident last year) so he could bring as much emotion and authenticity to the character as possible. The scenes on the ice were quite impressive. All 133 plays were choreographed and filmed by the same company, Reelsports Solutions, that created the action shots in Disney's other recent sports film, The Rookie. But the icing on the cake is the use of the actual play-by-play commentary from the U.S.-Russia semifinal game by ABC sportscaster Al Michaels, who immortalized the phrase, "Do you believe in miracles?" It gives it that extra reality boost.

Recommendations: This is a must-see for just about anyone. I am sure it will really grab you and hold you. The PG rating is there because of the rough sports action and some language, and it's a long movie (more than two hours), so viewers younger than 10 are likely to start squirming (as I witnessed at the screening I attended).

Grade: A

- Billy Norris, 16, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School, and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified February 6, 2004, 13:27:16]

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