Goal! aka Goal! The Dream Begins
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Shane Roberts & Noor Razzak (1st January 2001).
The Film

Right from the kick off this young Mexican immigrant Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) spends his childhood growing up in the barrios of LA dreaming of playing professional football (soccer to Americans). It looks like he'll have to settle for working with his father, Hernan (Tony Plana) as a gardener to the rich set until he's spotted playing for his local team by Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane) an ex-agent from the UK. This gets him a trial with Newcastle FC in the UK.
"Goal! The Dream Begins" (which is the first of a trilogy), directed by Danny Cannon is stylishly shot and well acted but also entirely predictable and formulaic.
Being a lifelong football fan I really enjoyed it but it does use every sports film cliché, some of them twice. The unavoidable training montage sequences, the bull headed father who believes hard work is better pursued than ambitous dreams, the many second chances given our protagonist, the love interest plot line and also our hero's shining moment that is so obvious it can be seen from space.
Santiago's rise from one day trial to reserve team and then first team in just over a month also stretches credibility more than a little bit. Most especially the fact that he also gets one or two many 'last chances' after under-performing, something that rarely happens in professional sports.
Newcomer Becker is pretty convincing as a talented player even though he hadn't played much football before getting the part. I think it was better that an unknown was cast rather than a familiar face and also that he's an actor pretending to play a footballer rather than the other way around. That said, the part that really counts, the football, is fantastic. The film was fully backed by FIFA and Cannon and his crew were able to film at actual matches. These scenes feature big name players from Newcastle, Liverpool etc. and have then been seamlessly edited together with ones including the actors. Lots of ground level camera work on the field and great crowd shots from inside the stands really lend an authentic atmosphere.
Alessandro Nivola does a good job as Stantiago's cockney playboy teammate who is more than slightly based on real player Craig Bellamy as well as cameos by some top players including "Becks" are fun for any lover of the world's favourite game.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1, this anamrophic transfer is about as good as one can expect from such a recent film. The image is sharp and holds detail well, especially in darker scenes and night time scenes. Colors come across as vivid and well presented especially skin tones, The film does have some hues that add a sense of geography to the film for example the L.A. scenes have a orange-yellow hues to the scenes and the U.K. part of the film is much colder. These hues hold up well and also presents blacks deeply with shadow detail remaining consistently good throughout the print. Overall this is a fine transfer that should please everyone.

Audio

Three audio tracks are included all of which are in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, we have an English, French and Spanish tracks. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its English soundtrack, although the beginning of the film is partly spoken in Spanish and these scenes include English subtitles. The dialogue was clear and distortion free but the real sweetness of this track lies in the stadium scenes, the speakers literally are a buzz with crowd reactions and ambient noise that will immerse the viewer into the film. I also found that the music also made excellent use of the sound space. Overall this is a pleasing 5.1 mix that compliments the solid video.
Optional subtitles are also included in Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista Home Entertainment has included an audio commentary, three featurettes, a music video plus a collection of bonus trailers for this release. Below is a close look at these supplements.

First up we have a feature-length audio commentary with director Danny Cannon and screenwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. From the start Cannon states that they'll try not to bore us but that inevitably happens not because they don't offer anything of interest but rather their dry and monotone delivery can put anyone to sleep. In any case if you manage to stay awake throughout this track you will find something of interest especially if you're a football fan and also a fan of this film. They discuss their involvement in the film, the genesis of the story, the involvement of FIFA and Newcastle United, the cast and also shooting at actual matches which seemed to have been a lot of fun. You get the sense that these guys are truly fans of the game and enjoyed their experience working on this film.

Following that is "The Beautiful Game" featurette which runs for 6 minutes 48 seconds, this clip takes a look at the fandom surrounding football and how it's basically a religion in most parts of the world. This clip seems like it was produced for the average American showing them that there is actually a game bigger than Gridiron and Baseball combined. It also takes a look at the Newcastle United, how the game inspires people and also the attraction that is Real Madrid a team with some of the world's best players on their roster.

"Behind The Pitch" is an EPK featurette that runs for 10 minutes 57 seconds and covers the making of this film. It lets us in on the trilogy planned for our hero, the participation of FIFA during the filming, the emphasis on character and story, casting an unknown in the lead and the training he had to endure as well as establishing a club that would be a main part of the story. The clip additionally covers the weather faced in Newcastle and the cameos of famous footballers among other things. This clip covers the basics and sells the concept of the film to the viewer as all good EPK's should do.

Next up is "Golden Moments From The FIFA World Cup" featurette that runs for 3 minutes 26 seconds, this is essentially a montage clip of famous and memorable moments in football history.

Also included on the disc is the music video for "Playground Superstar" by the Happy Mondays which runs for 3 minutes 56 seconds, direct from the film's soundtrack is this clip that will likely only be viewed once by anyone that owns this DVD as it's not worth repeated viewing.

A collection of bonus trailers round out the extras on this disc, the first four of which are start-up and can be skipped. They include:

- "The Heart of the Game" which runs for 2 minutes 12 seconds.
- "Lost Season 2" which runs for 1 minute 27 seconds.
- "The Miracle Match" which runs for 36 seconds.
- Anti-piracy spot which runs for 47 seconds.
- "Grey's Anatomy Season 2" which runs for 1 minute 45 seconds.
- "Stick It!" which runs for 2 minutes 29 seconds.
- "Disney's Wide World of Sports" which runs for 35 seconds.

Overall

The Film: B Video: A Audio: A Extras: C+ Overall: B+

 


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