Friday, August 03, 2007

Goal 2: Living the Dream

The verdict: Ok, so it's only slightly less ridiculous than the first instalment, but (*cough*) the football action is very well filmed.

The rating: 5/10

The continuing existence of this franchise is something of a minor miracle, considering the revenues of the first, cliché-riddled, lamentably awful instalment. However, it may be a fortuitous case of life reflecting art - and I use the word in the loosest sense in relation to this film - but Santiago Munez' career takes a turn for the better in this sequel, and overall, this is a better film than the first epsiode.

Bear in mind though folks, that's not saying much! I don't think Goal 2: Living the Dream is intended to appeal to anyone other than those who would already consider themselves confirmed fans of The Beautiful Game.

I mean, the first episode had weighty themes of the 'believe in yourself and you can achieve anything' variety to tackle. This episode treats altogether more tabloid storylines such as 'how to cope when you crash your lamborghini and punch a paparazzo'. In this, at least, it provides an altogether purer form of escapism than the first episode.

Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) joins his former team mate Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola) at Real Madrid early in the movie, and struggles to get into the first team. The crew were given unprecedented access to Real's facilities during production, so the likes of Beckham, Zidane, Ronaldo and (*cough*) Thomas Gravesen continually potter about in the background, occasionally high-fiving one of our two heroes in the midst of a training montage, or some such. Occasionally the real Real players get lines in the movie, but the film-makers obviously learned from Becks' heinous spoken role in the first episode, and restrain their dramatic demands on the players, letting them do most of their talking on the pitch.

Off the pitch, Santi's having girl trouble, and how. His Newcastle girlfriend, played by Anna Friel, is finding the move to Madrid tough, given that she is still working towards exams at the Newcastle hospital, and only spending the odd weekend in Madrid. At the same time, Santiago's receiving special attention from a certain Spanish tv presenter named Jordana, a Penelope Cruz lookalike (but with a better nose) and this puts a real strain on their relationship.

So, Munez becomes a super-sub, and a Real star, but also discovers his long lost mother in Madrid... Will all his off-field struggles combine to cause mental problems in his game? Will he do the dirt on Anna Friel? Will he reconcile with his mother? Will Thomas Gravesen have a spoken part in this movie?

Yes folks, just like in an episode of 'Dream Team' or 'Footballers Wives', there are many questions to be answered in this movie. However, the on-field action is the primary attraction of this movie, and this at least is put together exceptionally well. When on the pitch, the footage of the fictional characters interacts with that of the genuine Madrid players seamlessly, and with the exception of a few moments that are straight out of an X-Box simulation (every goal Munez scores seems to be an acrobatic bicycle kick in the last minute) the on-field action is great and very watchable.

So, it's a feather-light football movie for fans of the game, but it's a big improvement on the first episode. Kuno Becker is likeable in the lead role, and his team-mate (Nivola) is a loveable rogue kind of character. Friel, too, has more to do in this one, and Rutger Hauer is a useful enough addition to the cast as the Madrid gaffer, even if he does phone in a performance that wouldn't make a Guiness Ad out-take. Too many montages, pat story-telling, and a high number of cliches mean this will never be anything approaching high art or even multiplex fodder, but it's an agreeable, if completely dopey ninety minutes during a summer without football.

The third instalment of this franchise is on the way, apparently. I find it difficult to believe that it will get the green light however, unless they can continue the Beckham link... Munez to sign for the LA Galaxy perhaps?

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