NHL

last_gladiators_01

The popularity of sports documentaries is not recognized enough. Maybe it’s because a lot of the favorites find their audience on TV, particularly as part of ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. Perhaps they aren’t considered “important” enough by the documentary community, even when they deal with serious issues as in the case of Steve James’s most recent and most overlooked film, Head Games. Like music docs, they may be disregarded as insignificant fare mainly targeted to a particular fanbase. But with many sports, that’s a very large fanbase we’re talking about. Professional ice hockey is the least followed of the four major team sports in America, but millions of people do watch it, and the number has been on the rise these past few years. So, there’s definitely a large demographic who’ll be interested in Alex Gibney’s The Last Gladiators, a documentary about NHL enforcers with a predominant focus on former Montreal Canadiens “goon” Chris “Knuckles” Nilan. This is a demo that likely won’t know or even think about the fact that this film was made by a tremendously prolific and highly acclaimed director. Many of them would sooner see this than Gibney’s other new docs, which tackle sexually abusive priests and the story of Wikileaks, and they very well might have seen his baseball doc, Catching Hell, but not his Oscar-winning doc, Taxi to the Dark Side.

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I make no effort to hide my love and appreciation for Seann William Scott. I’ve always thought he was hilarious and on top of that, he broke my journalism cherry. My first ever interview/junket experience was for Role Models where I was seated, along with two other journalists, and Seann William Scott. To put the sweet love icing on the cake, Scott complimented me while I sat there quietly, in a bit of audio I’ve kept ever since. Why am I telling you this? Just so you know, because I’m about to gush all over Goon. You can make your own judgement call whether or not my view is too tainted, but when you weigh this review against other reviews, you’ll find that in all likelihood, this is just a good movie. Goon currently has a 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Now that the unpleasant awkwardness of my manlove is out of the way, Goon is the story of very talented ass-kicker and mediocre hockey player Doug Glatt as he makes a bloody splash on the ice. Early in the story, Glatt moves from fan to fan who kicks a hockey player’s ass to low level hockey star to semi-pro star enforcer.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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