13 March 2005 | Eric-62-2
Surpasses "Miracle" In Some Areas. Still Worth A Look
"Miracle On Ice" is the lesser known first dramatization of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team's miracle gold medal victory, made just a year after the event as a three hour TV-movie that aired on ABC. The deficiencies in being a rushed production, as well as the passage of time that has enhanced the importance of what was accomplished, undoubtedly was why it was felt the story deserved new attention in the big-screen "Miracle" in 2004. Despite that, "Miracle On Ice" is still worth a look, and in some areas manages to surpass the big screen remake.
One area where it does not, is it's choice of lead actor to play coach Herb Brooks. Karl Malden was 30 years too old for the part, and while he tries his best, he never overcomes this obstacle. TV-actors of the time like Bill Bixby or Robert Conrad would have been far better casting, as some have suggested. This stigma of Malden being the wrong man for the part, I suspect was another reason why it was felt the story deserved a new treatment.
But on the other hand, "Miracle On Ice" manages to tell a lot more about some of the players than "Miracle" did. We learn more about goalie Jim Craig, and his relationship with his father that culminated in the dramatic moment of him draped in an American flag at the end of the gold medal game, looking for his dad in the stands. "Miracle" gave us the story of Ralph Cox, the last man cut from the team, while "Miracle On Ice" tells this story from the perspective of Les Auge, who was in fact the second to last man cut from the team. We learn also in "Miracle On Ice" of Mike Eruzione's decision to never play pro after being captain of the gold medal team. Ken Morrow is accurately bearded.
Also, "Miracle On Ice's" limited production values required a generous reuse of ABC's actual broadcasts of the games blended in with some quick close-ups. And in the process, this ends up demonstrating how no matter how much Disney tried, "The Miracle" could just not duplicate the noise intensity and the frenzied atmosphere of what Lake Placid was like during that key game against the Russians. Also, "The Miracle" made a big mistake by having Al Michaels and Ken Dryden recreate their play-by-play calls and it sounds just like a recreation, which is to say, artificial and fake. The actual calls by them above the actual crowd noise used by "Miracle On Ice" are far superior.
In the end, "Miracle On Ice" may not have the production values of "Miracle", and the latter movie is a superior story of Herb Brooks the man and the coach, but as an all-around portrait of the team and the event itself, I still give the slight edge to "Miracle On Ice."