Cancelled, report to the library"
When Ken Carter (Jackson) is offered the chance to return
to his old high school in Richmond and coach the basketball team, he inherits
a group of young men who only won four games in the previous season. Promising
them that he will turn them into winners if they adhere to the rules of
a contract that every player has to sign, he starts training the team for
the new season. After going undefeated for many games, Coach Carter discovers
that even though he has forfilled his promise, his players haven't and have
let their academic progress suffer. Controversially the coach makes the
decision to cancel every practice and game until the team's grades are up
Sports movies are always the same. We witness a hapless team
or player changing their fortunes around and becoming the best that they
can be. Can 'Coach Carter' be any different?
Based on a true story, the movie has all the hallmarks of
a standard sports film but as you get into it you release it is slightly
different. Here we have a story of a man who saw potential in his team.
This is nothing new in a sports film you might be saying to yourself but
the potential he saw wasn't just on the basketball court. The film highlights
the plight of high school students in the Richmond area, informing us that
there is less than a 40% graduation rate and an even smaller percentage
that then go onto college. What Coach Ken Carter did was what most of the
academic staff should have been doing in the first place, pushing the students
to their full potential. To him playing basketball was a privilege and the
only way you could play for his team was to have a 2.3 grade point average.
This gave the boys the chance to go for college scholarships and a way for
changing their lives for the better.
Samuel L. Jackson performance as Ken Carter drives the film.
You can imagine actually listening to this man and accepting his methods
and rules, as he has you best interests at heart. It could have been so
easy for Jackson to play the part as a tyrant or do-gooder but he makes
the character believable and someone who has the welfare and future prospects
of his players at the forefront of his mind. His support is also good from
the young actors who play the Richmond team. Rick Gonzalez stands out as
Timo Cruz, the young man tempted by the rewards of a life of crime who gets
to see that basketball could be an escape. The rest of the cast are also
good, even though they tend to be a little to stereotypical at times.
'Coach Carter' is a different kind of feel-good sports movie.
While some of the elements are slightly clichéd, there is enough here to
be different from the usual, run of the mill sports film that is a forgone
conclusion before you even sit down to watch it. Not as hard hitting as
it could have been but still very watchable all the same, 'Coach Carter'
is a movie that has a strong message that most people should listen to.
PICTURE & SOUND
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
sound, the movie is presented well.
Coach Carter: The Man behind the Movie (19.41 mins)
Producer Mike Tollin and star Samuel L. Jackson are joined by the actual
Richmond Oilers team members from the class of 1999, to talk about the
real Coach Ken Carter. The man himself talks about how he came to Richmond
High, his background and connection with the school. The team reveal how
they felt about his approach and how the 'lockout' affected them and their
class. The featurette also takes you behind the scenes of the 5th Anniversary
of the Lockout, were the team come back to share what they are doing now
and play a game.
Fast Break at Richmond High (11.40 mins)
Producer Mike Tollin, basketball coordinator Mark Ellis, producer Brian
Robbins, Coach Ken Carter and stars Samuel L. Jackson, Channing Tatum,
Robert Ri'chard, Rob Brown, Texas Battle, Nana Gbewonyo and Rick Gonzalez
take you behind the scenes of the basketball training for the movie. Here
we see how the actors and extras trained for the shoot and how they endured
a rigorous regime under the tutelage of Mark Ellis to prepare them for
play the game for up to twelve hours a day.
Deleted Scenes (12.12 mins)
Entitled 'Damien wants to celebrate with the team', 'Worm jokes with coach',
'The team checks out mansions', 'Kenyon at the party with Berkley girl',
'Coach with the team in the library' and 'The team welcomes Cruz back/Kyra
breaks up with Kenyon' these deleted scenes are all good but with an introduction
or commentary track, we don't know why they were removed.
Music Video - Twista featuring Faith Evans 'Hope' (4.26 mins)
A promotional video that includes appearances by Samuel L. Jackson and
the team from 'Coach Carter'
Paramount has done a good job with the DVD transfer of 'Coach Carter'.
While the inclusion of a commentary track would have been an added bonus,
the featurette about the real Coach and his team more than makes up for
this. Fans of the film should be very pleased and for those who didn't
catch the theatrical release, this is a good sports movie to rent.
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