Judge Franck Tabouring is living the dream, too...in his head!
This time, the dream is real.
Goal II: Living the Dream is the second installment in the European soccer trilogy focusing on a gifted player who left his miserable existence behind to become an international star. While Goal II boasts a handful of vibrant scenes on the soccer field, an implausible, corny storyline ends up causing more damage than good.
Facts of the Case
After reaching stardom as Newcastle United's best new player, Santiago Muñez (Kuno Becker, English as a Second Language) faces a whole new challenge when he's transferred to Real Madrid. Determined at first to do everything it takes to play a full game and compete in the UEFA Champions League alongside the world's best players, Santiago soon discovers that his newfound glory and fortune can also compromise his character and destroy everyone he loves.
Overdramatic, predictable storytelling easily overshadows the excitement of soccer in Goal II: Living the Dream, a pointless sequel that closely follows the structure and style of its mediocre predecessor and doesn't offer viewers anything new along the way. First and foremost, the film is incredibly sappy, focusing mainly on all the personal struggles Santiago encounters after he leaves the United Kingdom and starts exploring the luxurious life of a well-paid soccer star. Now, I certainly don't have anything against watching a dramatic account of an athlete slipping into a major crisis, but Goal II takes the idea a little too far for my taste.
For most of its moderately entertaining 115 minutes, the movie feels a lot like a Lifetime feature, with cheesy dialogue and plenty of over-the-top moments dominating a very predictable, repetitive plot. The first 10 minutes of the film are probably the most plausible, but as soon as Santiago lands in Madrid and starts to warm up to the idea of acquiring bigger fame and making tons of moola, things spin out of control. Overdetermined to do great, Santi soon detaches himself from what used to be important in his life. Before you know it, he finds himself caught in the middle of an overblown, soapy drama that may cost him his career. None of this is boring to watch, but it's not intriguing enough to leave a long-lasting impression.
As far as the acting is concerned, Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, and Anna Friel offer decent but forgettable performances in the lead roles. There's only so much a cast can do with a pretty weak script. Even though the characters in the film are not as thin as I originally expected, the cheesiness of the main storyline damages their credibility. Diehard soccer fans will probably appreciate the appearances by superstars such as David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, and Roberto Carlos. Even though they just briefly show up and don't say a word, they give at least the scenes in the locker and on the field a certain authentic touch.
The DVD of Goal II: Living the Dream also includes a bunch of special features. Besides five mediocre deleted scenes, the bonus material also includes a couple of bloopers and a rather disappointing 5-minute behind-the-scenes look, which spends too much time repeating the central plot instead of focusing more on the actual shooting of the film. On the more positive side, however, the feature audio commentary by director Jaume Collet-Serra and writer/producer Mike Jefferies is pretty informative, with both of them spending a considerable amount of time analyzing the film's biggest scenes in terms of how challenging (and exciting) it was to shoot them.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Even though Goal II: Living the Dream doesn't have that much going for it, the film does feature a bunch of fast-paced soccer sequences, most of which look great and are quite exciting to watch. I only wish I could've seen more of these scenes, because those we get to enjoy in the end really boost the plot and clearly make for the film's most entertaining moments.
Speaking of good stuff, I also appreciate the film's clean, sharp image quality, supported by a strong 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and a solid audio transfer. Collet-Serra and his crew have done an especially nice job capturing a bunch of gorgeous soccer scenes, and they all look superb.
Goal II: Living the Dream is not a total disaster, but the lack of a strong, believable plot and the scarcity of soccer action eventually turn it into a forgettable sequel that could have used a little more energy and innovation. Those of you who loved the first film will probably enjoy this one as well, but those of you hoping this one would be an improvement better stick to real-life soccer coverage.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Peace Arch Entertainment
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