Wednesday, October 17, 2012

30 in 30 - Day 16: Michael Jordan - To The Max

I was surprised when I took a look at the back of the dvd case holding tonight's film.  I'll admit, I've gotten in the habit of looking at movie lengths before I sit down to watch it.  Nothing against the films, I just think that knowing the length of a movie helps in understanding the pace of it as you watch.

This one was shorter.....a lot shorter than I had anticipated.  And in a way, I was a little disappointed by that.

If there was a positive, it was that I could zip through it before meeting up with a buddy for a couple beers.  A three hour epic and I wouldn't quite be half way through it.

Tonight's film - Michael Jordan: To The Max

Michael Jordan: To The Max (2000)
46 mins.
Rated: NR (this movie is suitable for all sports fans)

"Follow Michael Jordan's last basketball season as he leads the Chicago Bulls to their sixth NBA championship.  Michael Jordan: To The Max provides a rare glimpse of Michael Jordan on and off the court."  (source: the back of the dvd)

Another one from the unwatched dvd pile in my basement.

When I first sat down to watch this doc, it was at my computer (I've been in a habit of watching these films online).  But within the first two minutes, I stopped the dvd, ejected it, went down to the living room and popped it in the dvd player.  This film needs to be seen on as big a screen as you can.  Watching it on a little monitor does this movie a severe injustice.

After all, it was filmed and released in IMAX.

And what better way to whet the appetite of viewers than to have Jordan perform one of his patented foul line dunks - using one of those slick (at the time) 360 degree cameras.

We hear the imfamous Chicago Bulls pregame music as the backdrop for the pregame ritual both the players and fans go through before a Bulls game.  We are about to enter the last playoff run of Michael Jordan.  1998 will be Mike's final season and he wants to go out a winner.  He was the MVP during the regular season and easily handed the Nets in the first round of the playoffs.

The footage looks really impressive (even if I'm only watching it on my decent sized television at home).  Great shot selection and creative shooting gives this a distinctly unique look - suitable for a Jordan doc.

We intercut the playoff run with some of his philosophies and travels throughout his career and his life.  Michael starts by talking about his love of the game - this is the key to his success to his drive - to everything.  His passion for the game started as a kid.  He talks about being cut from his high school team and how it made him work harder.

We cut back to a round two playoff series against Charlotte.  Watching Chicago dominate another team isn't fantastically exciting, but it's part of the story I guess.

Turning weaknesses into strengths.  We hear from coach Phil Jackson as he describes how Jordan became a tremendous shooter and defender.  These were the parts of the game Jordan spent extra time working on - he wanted to be the best all-around player he could.

At the time Jordan started become an NBA superstar, the league was experiencing a globalization effect.  Commercials and Jordan branding were everywhere - worldwide.  It was the perfect storm for both Michael and the league.

We see the Bulls face off against Indiana next.  Reggie Miller and the Pacers put Chicago through everything they can handle and more, taking them to a deciding game 7.  Jordan talks about desire and the strength of believing that things will work out in the end.  That positive attitude is stronger in Jordan than anyone else in the league.

With Chicago now in the finals, the spotlight sits on Jordan one more time.  They go in against a well-rested Utah Jazz team that looks to take advantage of a more tired Bulls group.

Michael talks about his dad and how he was such an influence on him.  He was killed in August of 1993.  Mike talks about how he was inspired to play baseball because of his dad and that it was the advice of TRY that made him pursue it will all his focus and energy.

It was also his dad that inspired him to return to basketball and the game that he has such a gift for.

After winning game 1, Utah looks to already put a stranglehold on the trophy.  Jordan seems to enjoy the underdog status.

The high standards Jordan places on both himself as well as the rest of the team is focused on.  A guy like Scottie Pippen became a star in his own right because of the bar Michael Jordan placed on the team, on the way they played and the way they practiced.

Again, the series goes 7 games.  Jordan visualizes throughout that the Bulls will be successful, that they will be the better team mentally - even if they are the weaker team physically.

In true Jordan fashion, it is a steal and last second shot that puts the Bulls ahead to win the NBA finals.  The lasting image of Jordan on the court is one of perfection.

This was not too bad of a doc.  I would have loved it to be about twice as long, but with it being an IMAX movie, I can see how it would only end up being three quarters of an hour.

The footage as I mentioned is really nice.  Creative and with purpose.  Some of the stock footage and still photos don't get the fancy treatment I thought it would, but it didn't bother me too much.  The interviews were presented in a unique way.  I'm assuming it was because this would have been seen on a huge screen initially.

The interviews were just in small boxes placed on the screen on top of Jordan b-roll.  Not sure why the decision was made not to go full screen with them (except for Jordan himself).  Odd, but whatever.

The story of going throughout the playoffs one more time as we revisit some of the key aspects of Jordan is a fitting way to celebrate one of.....make that THE greatest basketball player of all time.

If you're a Jordan fan and have not watched this....I'd like to know why.  It's a good watch, would be awesome to see on the big IMAX screen, but doesn't break any new ground in Jordan docs.

2.5 out of 5

Here are some other reviews I found online for the film...

Rotten Tomatoes

High Def Digest

Roger Ebert

Up next - Knuckleball

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