New on DVD: Two sports dramas that aspire to inspirational finishes
A little-known cyclist becomes 'The Flying Scotsman,' while 'We Are Marshall' dramatizes a football team's rebirth after tragedy.
The Flying Scotsman (PG-13)
"The Flying Scotsman" has two counts against it from the get-go: First, it's about cycling, a sport most Americans would rather ignore. And secondly, it's a sports movie without quite enough juice – even in those familiar, glossy cut-scenes in which an athlete in training huffs and puffs and sweats and screams. The flat story line follows the career of Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree (Jonny Lee Miller) – who suffered from mental illness – without ever truly engaging the viewer. We are meant to understand that a salvation of sorts lies in fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional cyclist. There is a salvation, finally, but it is purely aesthetic: The final racing scenes are sharp and exciting. Grade: C–
– Matthew Shaer
We are Marshall (PG)
The latest entry in the inspirational, true-story sports drama starts in 1970 when a plane crash kills almost all of Marshall University's football team. So, when new coach Jack Lengyel (Matthew McConaughey) – whose optimism isn't so much "glass half full" as it is "cup brimming over" – tries to rebuild a team soon after, some townsfolk in Huntington, W. Va., wonder if it's too soon. Director McG efficiently moves the plot to the end zone through a series of efficient blitzes without ever scoring an emotional touchdown. Fortunately, McConaughey has fun in the role, leavening a fairly mopey story. The DVD only has one bonus feature, but it's a terrific one: A documentary in which famous varsity coaches, including Bobby Bowden and Pat Summitt, talk about their philosophies on success. Grade: B– – Stephen Humphries