Wednesday, December 27, 2006

We Are Marshall: Post Premiere Comments

I have suppressed the urge to post on this subject because I really hoped I would be wrong, but it now appears my gut was correct.

Chris James nailed it when he wrote "We Are...A Flop!" I am so not surprised, and here's why:
  • The Title - While it is a cherished part of the Marshall and Huntington culture, The "We Are Marshall" chant really doesn't serve well as a title for the movie. I just doesn't say much to outsiders about what the movie is about. It is rare that a working title of a major motion picture ends up being the actual title and I was very surprised that they stuck with the original title all the way. It must have tested out pretty well in focus groups, but recent transplants to our area have told me that they thought the name was curious and that if they didn't know what the movie was about they wouldn't get it from the title. The fact is that not many people outside our area know the story and therefore will not make the connection. Too bad "Ashes to Glory" was already taken; I think that would have been much better.
  • The Actors - The "Sexiest Man Alive" list is replete with winners whose next career move was a bad one. Affleck had "Gigli", Clooney had "Batman." Now McConaughey has "We Are Marshall." This is his first venture outside the chick flick genre and from all accounts, his portrayal of Jack Lengyel is pretty hokey. Matthew Fox has a huge TV fan following but I don't seem him bringing in an audience. The total lack of a leading woman is problematic, too. Kate Mara and Kimberly Williams should have been played up more in the publicity.
  • The Timing - Let's face it, Christmas weekend releases are reserved for sure-fire family films (Toy Story, Babe, etc.) or Oscar contenders. This movie is neither. The field is way too crowded this time of year for a lackluster movie with little appeal to a wide audience.
  • The Director - I never understood why the local news media made such a fuss over director "McG". The highlights of his directing credits include two very bad movies (Charlie's Angels) and some Wierd Al Yankovick videos. I don't know any movie buff that is going to shell out their eight bucks to go see a movie because it was directed my McG.
I had really hoped that the movie was going to do well in spite of these obvious potential problems. How fitting it would have been if the movie would have overcome the obstacles and rise to greatness like the team in the story does. Sadly, the movie's fortunes looks more like a glory to ashes story.

The movie's failure is no reflection on Huntington or Marshall. The only thing the community did was to have expectations that were unrealistically high, and I blame McG and Co. for that.


Anonymous said...

I think the community's main concern was that the film stay true to the events of that tragedy, and to the spirit of how the program and town evolved afterwards. If it made a buck or two, it was gravy. In that regard, I think the community believes things turned out just fine.

The movie was not great. But, box office is the measure of success used by the studios. Ask any movie-goer how they liked a particular movie, and you won't hear "I really liked almost everything about it, but it was a lousy movie because it didn't make a profit." Nope. Most folks are interested in how a movie moves them, how the story is told. We Are Marshall has several problems that make it less than a great movie. But, whether or not the film is financially successful should not be the stick used to measuere it as a work of art.

Anonymous said...

Stay true to the events? How about the big scene where the people gather outside the building and yell out the cheer that wasn't invented until twenty years later?

The movie is phony.

charleswest said...

You are correct, Film Geek, that art shouldn't be judged on its financial success and that's not what I mean to say. It's just that it was great marketing opportunity for the school and city and the potential has been significantly reduced by the box office failure.

And Anonymous, it's called "artistic license". Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Charles: I agree with your last comment completely. I probably read your post too defensively. I apologize.

And anonymous: I think that scene falls into "the spirit of how the program and town evolved afterwards" part of my comment. Sure, it is fictional, but the spirit of what that scene represented is important to illustrate.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link.

I kind of feel like movie is kinda like the Wise Adminstration: not the worst thing ever, but everyone thought it would be soooo much more.