We Are Marshall – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com




Matthew McConaughey ………. Jack Lengyel
Matthew Fox ………. Red Dawson
Ian McShane ………. Paul Griffen
Anthony Mackie ………. Nate Ruffin
Kate Mara ………. Annie Cantrell
January Jones ………. Carol Dawson
Brian Geraghty ………. Tom Bogden
David Strathairn ………. President Donald Dedmon
Kimberly Williams ………. Sandy Lengyel
Robert Patrick ………. Marshall Coach

The Movie

Underdog sports movies have been extremely popular in recent years. There seems to be at least a handful of these types of movies released each year. They usually follow the same formula. Either they are based on true stories or there is some adversity the team or individual must triumph over. In 2006, there were three of these movies released about football. Despite following on the heels of Invincible and Gridiron Gang, We Are Marshall is a slightly more bigger pill to swallow in the form of the overcoming adversity. The question here is not whether the underdogs can triumph or not, it’s how hard they must struggle before that happens?

We Are Marshall focuses on the aftermath of the November 14, 1970, plane crash that killed most of the Marshall University Thundering Herd, both players and coaches. University President Donald Dedmon (David Strathairn) leans towards indefinitely canceling the football program, but he is ultimately persuaded to reconsider by the pleas of the Marshall students the residents of Huntington, West Virginia, and most especially the few football players who didn’t make the flight. Dedmon hires a young new head coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey), who with the help of Red Dawson (Matthew Fox), try to rebuild the team and help heal the community in a relatively short time.

Never before has there been a challenge, such adversity, this intense. It doesn’t just affect a team; the community must overcome the aftermath as well. For small towns, football is often a way of life. It is the glue that holds everything together. So when a tragic event like this occurs, it can take years to overcome. The fact that we have to get through these events in a two-hour span is a little hard to swallow. At times it seems the movie exploits the real-life grief so that we get another triumph-over-adversity movie. That’s the main criticism.

One thing you can’t criticize, though, is the acting. Everyone in the cast performs their roles brilliantly. Matthew McConaughey surprises all with a strong dramatic lead role here. An odd casting choice on paper, but in execution McConaughey is near flawless. Matthew Fox does a respectable job as the main assistant coach. Even the young actors who portray the football players give their parts the justice they deserve.

Much like football is the glue that holds the entire town together, here to the acting holds this film afloat. The emotion is definitely there, but the great performances make the intense adversity that everyone must overcome a little more easier to swallow. Still, this film a little one-sided since everyone really seems to be willing to move on and get back to playing football so quickly. Yet for those who live in a small town like this and love football like the Marshall University community does, it’s really not that hard to believe. We Are Marshall is a little shallow, but it’s more inspirational and uplifting than anything sports-related of recent memory.

The Video:

The video is given in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The video quality is great and comparable to other new release DVDs. No problems at all.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. No problems real problems here either. The music and dialogue come out loud and clear.

The Extras:

“Legendary Coaches: How Coaches Overcome Adversity” Featurette
This is a pretty long featurette, running 37 minutes, talking all about coaches in college sports. We start out talking with the real Jack Lengyel and hear him describe his experiences with this entire situation. We then hear other famous coaches talk about their coaching experiences. These coaches include Bobby Bowden (Florida State University football coach), Pat Summitt (Tennessee women’s basketball coach), Lute Olsen (Arizona men’s basketball coach), George Horton (Cal State Fullerton University baseball coach), and John Wooden (UCLA men’s basketball coach). An interesting feature, even though it didn’t have much to do with the making of this movie.

“Marshall Now” Featurette
This is basically an one minute ad for Marshall University. It features famous alumni of the University telling you all about the school today. It’s trying to recruit kids to go there now. Nothing special. Should have been some more features on the movie.


This is not a football movie, despite what you might have heard. It’s about football, yes, but this movie is more about the people and relationships between them. How they overcome the odds and triumph is the real story here. Football is the background, although it does hold everything together. A recommended rental for everyone and recommended buy for those who love “underdog” stories.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for We Are Marshall
(OUT OF 10)






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