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Invicible - DVD Review

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</script></div>{/googleAds}Invincible is hard to dislike. It has nearly everything a good sports movie should inspirational lift, a rousing soundtrack, a gritty lead character trying to beat the odds, and realistic sports action. It even has that special ingredient that makes it perfectly suited for a fun time at the movies with the entire family the wholesome goodness of Disney.

But it's missing the one component that keeps it from reaching that high plateau occupied by such great sports films as Hoosiers or Miracle a hero who really wants to succeed.

Mark Wahlberg plays Vincent Papale in the real-life story of a 30 year-old South Philadelphia bartender and Eagle's season ticket holder who attended open try-outs for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 ... and actually made the team! Papale is a down-on-his-luck, sad sack kind of guy whose wife just walked out and who just lost his job as a substitute teacher. But rather than seeing an opportunity to play in the NFL as a way of pulling himself up by the bootstraps, Wahlberg's Papale pursues the tryouts with a half-hearted, whatever-happens-happens mindset, all the while, expecting to be asked to leave the field at any moment. If feels like his decision to attend the tryouts was more for his buddies than it was for himself. His recognition of the reality that he really has no shot at making the team oftentimes seems more powerful than his will to beat the odds.

In Rocky (1976), we know that Rocky Balboa succeeded because of his grit, determination and hard work. In Invincible, even though Papale makes the team, he always seems a bit too willing, and even eager at times, to turn in his playbook. That portrayal just doesn't pack the genuine underdog punch it should. The real-life Papale was a courageous go-getter who, while humbled by the opportunity to even attend Eagles try-outs, jumped at the possibility of a second chance and never let up for the three years he was on the team. We never get the sense that Wahlberg's Papale really believes he belongs on the team, and it's for this reason Invincible never really soars.

Also at the core of the film's story is the legendary Dick Vermeil (Gregg Kinnear) who, after taking over an Eagles franchise on the verge of implosion following yet another losing season, decides to hold the open tryouts in hopes of infusing the team with new blood. Anyone who's familiar with Vermeil and his coaching philosophy knows that he is truly about spirit, grit and heart over raw talent. Kinnear's portrayal of the hypersensitive coach entering the powder keg of Philadelphia, a city so ready to turn on its team it actually threw snowballs at Santa Claus, is well-delivered and quite entertaining to watch.

Avoiding one of the cardinal sins of sports movies, the action in Invincible is some of the most realistic ever made for a football movie. In Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, the on-field action was so outrageous and over-the-top it detracted from the entire experience. But here, director Ericson Core, who doubles as the film's cinematographer, succeeds with sports action that looks like real football. Wahlberg moves like an athlete (in spite of his diminutive stature), the hits look real, and the players aren't afraid to hit each other for the camera. But while we're given a good sense of the brutality of the sport on the field, the film's PG rating leaves us with an unrealistically sanitized locker room.

The film is driven by an energizing backbeat of '70s top hits and even a few lesser known songs that feel right at home in the wide collars, silk shirts and platform shoes. Such numbers as The James Gang's Funk No. 49 and Let it Ride by BTO provide the perfect compliment to the action scenes. I must say I would never have imagined Ted Nugent's Stranglehold as a bed for a slow-mo action sequence but it worked beautifully. Others, such as Rare Earth's I Just Want to Celebrate, Grand Funk Railroad's Feelin' Alright, and Edgar Winter Group's Free Ride, though a bit overused in movies, carried on the era's mantle quite nicely.

Invincible wants so hard to be mentioned in the same breath as Rudy, Rocky, The Rookie, and Remember the Titans it even borrows similar themes. But for a truly great underdog-overcomes-the-odds story to succeed, we must truly care about the underdog. As a viewer, we want to watch a dream come true. And we want to think that something like that could happen to us one day. But in Invincible, Vincent Papale doesn't believe in himself, so why should I.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen 2.35:1

Subtitles: French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; commentary.

* Trailers - Original theatrical trailer for Invincible, as well as trailers for S1m0ne, Shine, Tumbleweeds
* DVD-Rom Interactive content

Sorely missing is a commentary track with the real Vincent Papale.

Number of discs: - 1 disc set with Keepcase Packaging.


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