Marshall (2017)

Director: Reginald Hudlin

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, Dan Stevens, Sterling K. Brown, James Cromwell

Screenplay: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Koskoff

118 mins. Rated PG-13.

 

Chadwick Boseman (Captain America: Civil War, Gods of Egypt) has played a lot of biopics, this one being the fourth time. Is it his best?

Marshall is the story of Thurgood Marshall (Boseman) and his teaming up with Insurance lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad, Frozen, Beauty and the Beast) to defend Joseph Spell (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, TV’s This is Us), a colored man accused of raping a woman he works for in one of Marshall’s early cases.

There are no noticeably poor actors in the film, but the standouts come in Boseman and Brown.  Brown himself turns in an incredible performance as Spell, a man who is so terrified of his situation that he doesn’t know to trust, who to talk to, and how to act. His is a stoic thoughtful performance. Boseman, too, disappears into his role as Thurgood Marshall. Boseman is no stranger to playing real life men, having already become James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and Floyd Little in his career, and his performance as the future Supreme Court Justice is exemplary.

Credit should be given to Josh Gad, Dan Stevens (Kill Switch, TV’s Downton Abbey) as the prosecutor Loren Willis, and James Cromwell (The Green Mile, The Promise) as Judge Foster, a noticeably bigoted man who attempts to stop Marshall and Friedman at every attempt to prove innocence.

Director Reginald Hudlin (House Party, Serving Sara) hasn’t had a lot of experience in directing these types of films, but he holds his own quite nicely. There isn’t a lot of visual flair, but his attention to detail aids the intensity. I remember a moment when the inclusion of car lights outside made me uncomfortable for the characters knowing the situation these two men were in. The car lights were unneeded, but having them raised the intensity level just a bit more. The cinematography from Newton Thomas Sigel again has moments of greatness littered throughout mixed with the restraint that you often see in courtroom dramas. The same can be said of the music. Sometimes it really works, but it doesn’t jump out at you.

Marshall is a great character piece, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find Boseman and Brown on the Oscar ballot come January, and the rest of the cast performs rather admirably. There isn’t a lot of technical flair on display here, though that isn’t really a bad thing. Marshall is a strong outing, a biopic focused on one incident and how it changed those involved. This is a film that you won’t want to miss.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

Have you seen Marshall yet? What did you think? And what’s the best Chadwick Boseman-led biopic? Let me know/drop a comment below!

 

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Happy 10th Birthday!] The Longest Yard (2005)

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Director: Peter Segal

Cast: Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, James Cromwell, Nelly, William Fichter, David Patrick Kelly, Tracy Morgan, Cloris Leachman, Burt Reynolds

Screenplay: Sheldon Turner

113 mins. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, violence, language and drug references.

 

I think The Longest Yard was an interesting choice for a remake. Technically, my rule on remakes is that one should remake a film if it has faded into obscurity or not succeeded in making a noteworthy film to begin with. I know that the original film The Longest Yard was somewhat successful upon first release, but by 2005, it wasn’t a talked about film.

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The Longest Yard is the story of Paul Crewe (Adam Sandler, Grown Ups, The Cobbler), a washed-up ex-professional football player who has just been imprisoned. There, he is offered the chance to earn some brownie points and possible early parole by Warden Hazen (James Cromwell, The Green Mile, Big Hero 6). All he has to do is recruit a team of convicts to play a game of football against the guards. Paul makes nice with Caretaker (Chris Rock, Head of State, Top Five) and an older coach, Nate Scarborough (Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights, Delgo) and proceeds to turn a rough-hewn group of criminals into a well-oiled footballing machine in this remake from Peter Segal (50 First Dates, Grudge Match).

The biggest fault of The Longest Yard is the aging process for an Adam Sandler movie. Adam Sandler’s films, with a few notable exceptions, do not age like a fine wine, but rather an open beer bottle. The jokes become less enjoyable as time goes on, and they start to turn from funny to annoying. There are still some hits that work, but ultimately, I groaned more than giggled. I surprisingly enjoyed Chris Rock’s performance as Caretaker, and unsurprisingly I had fun watching James Cromwell and Burt Reynolds let loose.

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Peter Segal isn’t the kind of director to thrill, but I thought he handled the action scenes during the football game pretty well. Ultimately, however, the film felt tame, having a lot less grit than its predecessor. I found it enjoyable enough for one viewing, but after another ten years, I don’t think I could do it again.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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