’12 Mighty Orphans’ is winning new film offering

Rick's Reviews

The moving sports drama “12 Mighty Orphans” is playing in local movie theaters. (Photo courtesy of Sony Classics)

A new sports film opening in theaters scores big when it comes to new entertainment options.

“12 Mighty Orphans” Grade 3 1/2 stars: There hasn’t been a sports film since the 1986 release of “Hoosiers” that has so beautifully blended the natural drama of sports with the unpredictability of the human spirit. The initial draw might be the sports angle but the appeal is universal.

The film – as directed by Ty Roberts – is based on the true story of the Mighty Mites, a football team from a Fort Worth orphanage. Under the guidance of legendary coach Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson), the ragtag group goes from not having any shoes to playing for the Texas state championships during the Great Depression.

It’s the ultimate David vs. Goliath scenario that makes sports films so popular. In this case, David would not even have had a rock to throw.

Russell manages to mold the few players he has into a winning team despite having to battle local coaches, school boards and the law. He also manages to introduce changes to the way the game of football is played.

There’s no escaping the melodrama that comes from this kind of story. And, the script based on Jim Dent’s novel doesn’t make any unexpected turns. It’s the way Wilson and Martin Sheen (who takes on the kind of role Dennis Hopper played in “Hoosiers”) so deeply engage their roles that lift the story to a higher level.

This is the kind of underdog story that makes football fans cheer. The humanity of the story is an even bigger reason to raise your voice for this movie.

“12 Mighty Orphans” is playing in local theaters.

“Luca” Grade 3 stars:  Luca is a 13-year-old sea monster who longs to know what life is like above the water. He gets drawn to dry land by another teen-age sea monster in Alberto who seems to be an expert on the land above the sea. The two bond and eventually put together a plot to get a Vespa so they can see the world.

This leads the pair to several encounters including meeting a spunky Italian girl who gives them a place to stay and enlists them in a local race where they think they can win enough money to buy the Vespa.

This coming-of-age story about two friends who end up having a summer of unforgettable fun unfolds in a little Italian village in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s. It is the kind of setting that creates an automatic feeling of nostalgia. It’s a different enough world where it is easier to believe sea creatures can exist.

But, the heart of the animated film comes from the very human elements. It is a beautiful examination of that moment in life when we begin to replace the embracing the safety of home with a need to grow and find our own way. It’s a celebration of life that is charming and entertaining.

“Luca” is available through the streaming service of Disney+.

 “Godzilla vs. Kong” Grade 2 stars: Seeing Godzilla and King Kong slug it out like two primordial produces several rounds of solid action in this new DVD and Blu-ray release. All of those efforts should have produced a more dramatic product but the action sequences get overshadowed by a clunky screenplay produced by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein. Their lack of focus results in multiple storylines that barely touch, a weak super villain and some sequences of extremely poor parental judgment.

Director Adam Wingard (“Blair Witch”) bounces in and out of action sequences. The problem he faces is that the two previous films featured big scenes of mass destruction. His 21st Century take on a city being destroyed by battling monsters is fine but there are no big original moments.

Overall, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is entertaining if you have not set your sights too high. It could have been better. It should have been better. But, that pesky convoluted story just keeps getting in the way of the action.

New on DVD and Blu-ray

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“Salvador Dali: In Search of Immortality”: This is an intimate look at one of the most celebrated artists of all time.

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“Rock Dog 2: Rock Around the Park”: Bodi and his band learn that fame comes with a price.

“Night Walk”: Mickey Rourke stars in this action-thriller about one man’s quest for justice. 

Available through digital platforms

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