Monday Morning Critic – 42 (Review and Spoilers), Jackie Robinson And The Three Deaths Of The Sports Film – The Frankenstein Theory

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The one thing about this weekend that was kind of sad was that 42 somehow managed to have a very good opening weekend. At least it helped snuff out any more Scary Movie sequels as that film opened up at a solid $15 million but it had a $20 million budget, thus we might not be that lucky. But after watching 42, and looking at the slate of sports films on the horizon, one can only hope for one thing.

That sports films go the way of the western and come out rarely, if ever.

As much as I’m a sports head, and write about MMA and boxing, the one thing that generally tends to bore me are films about aspect of sports. And I’m talking the proper, studio dramas where everything is revised for cinematic purposes. Because if I have to see another sports film it might be the last … and Hollywood really doesn’t do them all that well as a whole, not just as of late. When it comes to cinema the realm of sports should be off limits, or be very guarded, I think.

It’s odd to say that, considering I spend most of my television viewing (and upgraded my cable) to have more sports programming available. I’d have not gotten cable, and just used my massive television for DVDs and the occasional network show, if I wasn’t a sports head. You just can’t watch the NFL regularly off live feeds or off torrents after the fact regularly like you can with television shows. Eventually you just want to turn on ESPN and watch the game live.

If there’s one area of film where the genre has effectively become a self parody of itself its that of anything sports-related. Right now sports films have just gotten worse for a wide variety of reasons. I tend to think of it as comprising three deaths.

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Death of Story-Telling – Much like the romantic comedy there was a time when the sports film was about being able to tell a good story. It’s just now we’ve figured out that it’s easy to just follow a formula instead: underdog from the wrong side of the tracks winds up winning the big game and such. It becomes a matter of how you tell the story and unfortunately Hollywood doesn’t do that with most sports films. They’ve become a test in a way; if you can tell a compelling story through the medium you’re a good story-teller.

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Rise of the Documentary – You know what the thing that ESPN’s 30 for 30 did better than any dramatic film did in sports over the past several years? Tell significant stories of note in a way that was clear, succinct and powerfully engaging. Sports documentaries have come a long way since it was Hoop Dreams and then everything else. In a niche sport on the fringes of the mainstream like MMA there are any number of brilliant documentaries that compliment the sport; you can’t say that about any modern sports film.

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Lack of high level actors – There’s no consistency in high level actors wanting to make a sports film. It’s a stepping stone genre, something for an actor on the come up to take as opposed to an established one looking to expand. For every Will Smith as Muhammad Ali or Russell Crowe as James J Braddock there are any number of up and comers and character actors playing famous athletes.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This Week’s DVD – The Frankenstein Theory

What if one of history’s most legendary monsters was real? That’s the idea behind The Frankenstein Theory, a found footage film that got a small release and would up going a slightly less direct path to video than DTV.

A professor (Kris Lemche) from money hires a documentary crew on what appears to be a wild goose chase. He thinks Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” was a fictionalized account of his family’s accomplishments, of course, and enlists them to go up to the Artic Circle with him to figure out if it’s true or not. They think he’s crazy, of course, and the film chronicles their voyage up north.

I’m not going to spoil the film, of course, but I really enjoyed it. I dislike horror films, it’s been well known, but I really enjoyed this one. It’s well edited, cut down to a solid run time without any filler and hit’s the notes it needs to hit very well.

Recommended … and we’ll be giving away a couple copies in the near future. Stay tuned.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Oblivion – Tom Cruise is Wall-E.

See it – Cruise getting divorced means more choices like this and less musicals. Not a bad thing.

The Lords of Salem – Rob Zombie’s latest.

Skip it – Rob Zombie’s latest.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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