Goal! AKA Goal! The Dream Begins [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Shane Roberts/Noor Razzak (3rd December 2006).
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 ambitious 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.


Presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 this transfer is presented in high-definition 1080p / 24fps using MPEG-4 advanced video coding compression. This transfer is superb as expected, the image is infinitely sharp and displays depth and definition extremely well, you can almost make out the spectators in the crowd. The colors are lush and vibrant, with rich and deep black levels. Shadow detail is fine and consistent throughout, this transfer looks true to film, I'm growing more and more impressed with these transfer that Buena Vista have been producing, aside from minor grain this transfer is a stunner.


Four audio tracks are included, an English PCM 5.1 track encoded at 48kHz/16-bit as well as English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround tracks. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its PCM 5.1 uncompressed track. This track is probably better than most standard surround tracks, but is still a few steps behind behind a reference quality track. I was impressed with the clearness of the audio, the directional, environmental ambient surrounds were active during the stadium moments but they were not totally aggressive, I expected my speakers to rumble during those moments but I had to turn up the volume a little. Otherwise it's still an immersive and extremely well mixed surround track that should please most people.
Optional subtitles are also included in English for the hearing impaired, French and Spanish.


Buena Vista Home Entertainment has included some of the extras found on the film's DVD counterpart, this includes an audio commentary and a single featurette. Below is a close look at these supplements.

The video extras are presented in 1080p high definition.

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.

"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.

Also included is "Movie Showcase" which jumps to three key reference scenes that show off the high-definition quality.

I was very disappointed to discover that not all the extras from the DVD counterpart were ported over, there is no excuse for that.


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


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