Lionsgate // 2009 // 100 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // February 6th, 2010
The incredible true story of LeBron James and the Akron Fab Five
If you're looking for the ultimate LeBron James story, look no further. Kristopher Belman's More Than a Game is undoubtedly the definite documentary about the NBA star's beginnings and his successful run with the Fab Five at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, and, while the film suffers from occasional slowdowns, it's still a compelling viewing experience I can recommend to everyone interested in discovering why great friendships and enduring team spirit are essential in winning the game.
Let me cut to the chase right away: what I enjoyed most about this film is that it's not all ball, but also brain. Viewers will definitely get their share of basketball action during the movie's 100 minutes, but the real story is that of the relationships between the players. More Than a Game takes a lot of time reaffirming that bonding as a team and maintaining solid friendships on and off court are crucial to the potential success a basketball team can have.
Also, the film spends considerable time examining where each of the Fab Five come from, focusing on their childhoods as much as their dreams. This is a film about a group of individuals pursuing a passion by believing in themselves, dealing with both highs and lows, making sacrifices to reach their goals, and caring for the respect between those essential to putting on a great show on the court. In other words, More Than a Game tells a very human story, and that's exactly why I found this film so inspiring.
Belman creates compelling portraits of James, Dru Joyce, Sian Cotton, Willie McGee, and Romeo Travis, but he also makes sure to focus on these athletes from a broader perspective by showing how they evolved as a team and in what ways they strived to perfect their game. The film starts at the very beginning of the Fab Four and their dream to win a national championship, and it obviously ends with the big game. The road in between is quite an inspiring one, told via a rich collection of recent interviews, archival footage, private film footage, and an array of photographs that all boost the film's overall emotional effect as well as its realistic feel.
As I mentioned above, More Than a Game comprises tons of older footage, which explains why there are certain discrepancies in the picture quality. The DVD boasts an overall solid 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and while the newer interviews look sharp and all clean, most of the rest of the footage features a bunch of noise. However, considering this is a documentary relying heavily on older footage, this is not a big deal at all. It actually gives the whole thing a more authentic tone. As far as the audio transfer is concerned, I have no major complaints either. It all looks and sounds just fine.
Viewers will find three featurettes on the disc. In "More Than a Film," director Belman discusses how the project got started and how he came up with the idea to make a film about James and his teammates. Although it only runs for 9 minutes, it's quite an informative piece about how Belman took this project from concept all the way to completion. Also included are "Winning Ways," an interesting 9-minute featurette about sports psychology, and "Behind the Music," a brief piece focusing on the creation of the film's excellent score.
More Than a Game is not necessarily a doc for everyone, but it's a great experience for folks trying to get a better look at how LeBron James came to fame and what hurdles he had to overcome during his time with the Fab Five in Akron, Ohio. Despite a couple of slow-moving segments, this is still a very enjoyable, well-structured film I found very easy to watch.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG