Tag: Jason Gray-Stanford

The Miracle Season

Oh, it is the spring time. Is it time for an inspirational sports movie? Shit, I didn´t know. I wasn´t ready.

The more and more inspirational sports moments they decide to turn into films, they more obscure or recent they have to grab them. When we had Million Dollar Arm a few years ago, it was literally only a couple years after the event. We used to have to wait 10+ years to get a film about the sports event in question. Hell, we finally got a Tonya Harding movie just last year.

I honestly don´t know if The Miracle Season is a current event or something really old. I just know it is a volleyball film, which is not really common at all. So it is an inspirational volleyball film to get people excited about that sport, and winning and stuff.

Want to know the last inspirational volleyball film I remember watching? Phat Beach.

Holy shit, did they find a missing Mara sister for the lead role?

First of all, get ready, this film is set in Iowa. Now, everyone is not white in the movie, but they probably had to add some people of color because reality is too scary and they want to imagine it not so intense.

The main two white girls that this movie is about are Kelly (Erin Moriarty) and Line (Danika Yarosh). She was Caroline, but hated it, so she want by Line or Liner. They were BFFs since 3 years old, and their families have been close. And now they play volleyball together, going into their senior year of high school. Their team won the state championship in volleyball the previous year, and now they are ready to repeat!

Well, the coach (Helen Hunt) is. The rest seem to be cocky and goof off, even after losing their first game. Long story short, Line dies in a scooter accident, and now the team is even more fucked. She was the captain, the center, and the life force of their program. Her dad (William Hurt) is going through the most, because his wife died of cancer a week later, but her condition the knew about.

This is a true story again, so you know most likely how this story is going to end, or else, why would the movie exist?

Also starring Jason Gray-Stanford, Burkely Duffield, and Jillian Fargey. A few other girls on the team that stand out include Lillian Doucet-Roche as the freshman, who isn’t blonde, Tiera Skovbye as the most athletic one, who you can tell from the other blondes by her hair band, and Nesta Cooper, who is someone who isn’t even white like the rest of her team.

There we go. There’s that classic sports ending movie shot.

First of all, let me note that originally I was going to rate this lower, because I was annoyed at how they were “Hollywood-ing” up a real story, which happens very often. Creating a bit of extra drama in order to keep things going, instead of sticking to the truth. Well, then I watched a 14 minute special on the events, and every part I assume was extra was real. My bad.

Secondly, here are some coincidences. This film is about the death of Line of course, and the team coming together to repeat. It is also about Kelly, her best friend, coping with their loss and turning into a leader for the team to rally behind as well. Kelly after the events of the film went on to college at Iowa State from 2011-2015, where she probably played some volleyball too.

Well, I was at Iowa State from 2012-2014 for graduate school. I was a Geophysics graduate student, and she was a microbiology student, and those two sciences shared the same relatively small building on that campus, so there is a really good chance I have walked by or seen this real life person before. Heck, I had even bought things from the Microbiology club for their fundraisers. I find it a bit bizarre that this person who went through these crazy life experiences was near my own personal existance for so long without knowing, and now they have a movie about them.

Well, Kelly went on to graduate school to be a PA, and is currently in Houston, Texas trying to finish that. Hey. I am in in Houston, Texas.

Cough. Okay. Sorry. Moving on. To talk about the actual movie? Well, the acting is really average to below average. Yarosh was insufferable as Line. Way too much, and that may have been Line in real life, but it sort of just irritated me. I was ready for her to die. They loved spending time on their grief, so they didn’t spend as much time as I would have hoped on actual volleyball.

Outside of the occasional montage, the volleyball games were basically described by the first 1-2 serves and the last 1-2 serves, without much in between. Most of the characters don’t have any discernible personality. The freshman player has the next most personality after Kelly, and that is because of her fresh-ness only.

The Miracle Season is an okay film for its accuracy to the story and its ability to make you feel a bit compelled. It is not one where you will be blown away by the acting from any party involved. It has minor issues occasionally like one near the end where the server changes in between points at a time when that totally wouldn’t happen. But again, this is our only volleyball movie for the next 20+ years probably, so it will have to do.

2 out of 4.

Earth To Echo

It is clear from the trailers of Earth To Echo that it is going for a modernized, new ET feel. Kids find an alien, government wants to get it, they want to help it get home.

But wait? Didn’t we just have another movie try that? Yeah, a few years ago, Super 8 tried to make a similar claim. And I loved Super 8, it just didn’t make a lot of money an people forgot about it, despite it being a very well shot film.

So instead I won’t think about it like a new ET. Mostly because I didn’t find ET enjoyable in the slightest. Let the alien + kid genre stand on its own, I say!

Kids these days. Playing outside with technology. What’s the world coming to?

Out of all the themes present in Earth To Echo, the largest and most pronounced must be the theme of friendship. This story is about three childhood friends who have grown up in a neighborhood together.

The three friends are Tuck (Astro), a guy who has an active youtube page so he makes sure to record a lot of his activities for hits. Aka, the reason we get a movie out of this. We have Munch (Reese Hartwig), a “weirdo” / mama’s boy who is into a lot more nerdier things and electronics. And we have Alex (Teo Halm), a foster kid who doesn’t come out of his shell too much. They have been best friends for many many years, and now they have to move away.

Why? Because they are building an interstate through their subdivision, and nothing can be done about it. So all of their parents are packing up to leave their Nevada home and never see each other again. But wait! Something weird is happening in the area. Phones are messing up and breaking. Actually, it seems as if the phones are showing a map to a location in the desert some 20 miles away.

Well, if they are all about to move, why not spend their last night together going on a treasure hunt and building lasting memories. Yay, memories.

Unfortunately, they get into a situation much greater than they bargained for, when they find alien life.

Don’t worry, this isn’t just a dude adventure (or a dudeventure). We got a chick, eventually, with Ella Wahlestedt, and the big bad government guy played by Jason Gray-Stanford.

Hey look! They almost made it so he could’t be easily turned into a toy. Almost.

The idea of a “shaky cam” movie scares a lot of people who think it is just a cheap gimmick. In this case, it adds a lot to the movie and only feels uncomfortable a few times near the beginning. Maybe a little bit too much bike offroading action, but other than that, it was really well done.

My main issues with Earth To Echo (outside of camera work) involve mostly technical issues. The timing of events in this movie seems to be all over the place, where they cram almost a whole day’s of activities into one night somehow. It took me out of the experience on more than one occasion.

But the film has a lot of positives!

First of all, it was actually pretty funny. The boys had great chemistry with each other, tons of jokes and amusing moments occurred throughout the film and I was laughing out loud on several occasions. Because their chemistry was so great, it of course awakened the nostalgia of hanging out with your neighborhood friends back in the day, doing dumb things to pass the time. Good times, and good feelings.

The film also had the necessary tense moments once things began to get too hard for the few kids to handle. With over half of the film set during the night time, it does certainly help for the scarier moments, and thankfully it never feels too dark to not see what is going on.

Overall, it ended up being pretty entertaining. The fact that it was about friendship first, and aliens second kind of give it a more personal and relatable feel. I guess I liked it better than Super 8, despite the ratings. Mostly because I haven’t watched Super 8 since I saw it for the first time (and it is still very pretty), but I can see myself seeing Earth To Echo over and over.

3 out of 4.