“We Are Marshall” is Solid but Not Spectacular

3.5 out of 5 stars

The movie “We are Marshall” is the latest sports movie that tries to raise emotions and tug at your heartstrings. A tear or two is what the movie is trying to get, and while it tries hard to get those tears it doesn’t succeed in the end. The movie is another solidly-produced sports movie but if you are expecting something spectacular then you are going to be disappointed. The movie is based on a true story. In 1970 while traveling back from a football game at East Carolina University 75 members of Marshall’s football team, coaching staff, and also boosters were killed in a plane crash. The accident is probably the single greatest sports catastrophe of all-time. The movie centers around the rebuilding of the program and the community through a young and enthusiastic coach named Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey). While the real-life story is extremely sad, the movie just doesn’t achieve the same emotions as the real event. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is sad and will make you think and maybe even cry, but it’s not like other great sports movies where your eyes really fill up at the end. That’s the problem with “We Are Marshall.” It’s too much like every other sports movie and thus, struggles to carve its own niche. The actors do a great job in the film. The movie really showed off the acting skills of McConaughey. He does a great job of bringing optimism and hope to the movie and also helps to erase his sub-par acting in movies like “Failure to Launch” and “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” Matthew Fox of “Lost” television fame also does a solid job as assistant coach Red Dawson. Fox’s character doesn’t die in the plane crash because he goes on a recruiting visit. Fox does a superb job of showing the guilt that Dawson felt for not dying in the crash. Kate Mara is a surprise as well. The granddaughter of New York Giants’ owner Wellington Mara, she does a great job as Annie Cantrell, a cheerleader who was engaged to one of the players in the crash. “We are Marshall” has good actors and a good story line, but somewhere along the way the movie just doesn’t achieve its potential. “We are Marshall” is probably around the same level as “Coach Carter” and “Glory Road.” It’s a solid sports movie, but don’t expect anything more than that.