Review – Bleed for This (2016)

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Awwe, widdle Miles Teller wants to be Rocky. How cute.

lcjcmp4iydsphkaq19oqmkbkicsLet us be clear. When it comes to sports films, they have to be really good for me to like them, because I’m not the biggest sports fan in general. That means the movie has one main prerequisite – it can’t be all sport, it has to have an equal balance of non-sports life outside of the ring as well, however you want to spin that is up to you. Now, when it comes to Bleed for This, I’m not sure what I expected…at all. Other than Miles Teller is playing a boxer. The usually snotty immature jerk in just about everything else.  Can he pull off the drama and emotionally driven norm known for films like these? We’ll see. Let’s get into it.

The inspirational story of World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza who, after a near fatal car crash which left him not knowing if he’d ever walk again, made one of sport’s most incredible comebacks. – IMDb

PEOPLE
★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

 

  1.  Good Acting: ★★
    • As far as acting is considered, I think everyone did a well-enough job portraying their characters and the emotions involved. That includes Miles Teller, Aaron Ekhart, Ted Levine, and a whole lot more. At the bare minimum, a sports movie like this needs good acting, and thankfully, that’s what we get here…but is it enough? Two stars.
  2.  Good Characters: ★☆
    • Now, characters, in my humble opinion, are just as important as the acting when it comes to sports films. You have to care about these characters, finding them incredibly unique, to enjoy the movie…especially if you’re not really a sports fan. I wasn’t really a huge fan of any of the characters. Vinney, Kevin,  or really anybody. They were all simply okay characters. They weren’t terrible, they didn’t subtract from anything. Just okay. One star.
  3.  Good Casting: ★☆
    • Not off to the best start for this People category, as I’m not entirely sure this was the best casting choice either – again, for any of the characters. No one seemed to really fit their role in a way that made me think nobody else could have done it, and done it better, at that. Again, no one was bad enough for this to warrant no stars at all, but mediocrity is showcased a lot here. One star.
  4.  Good Importance: ★☆
    • Again, I’m left with a subcategory that really lacked. When I say importance, I mean a majority of the cast are good, solid characters that all have their own independent goal that adds to the overall story. Most movies have this, but sometimes, you run into some flat characters that surround the two main characters. In this case, Vinny and Kevin. These two are the only important characters in the film, therefore…more low marks. One star.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★☆
    • Once again, one star. The chemistry simply met the requirements in a way that they aren’t actually terrible together…but they aren’t great either. This comes into characters, it comes into acting choice and if they could have made better decisions, overall making this a weak category in the film’s overall star power.

 

WRITING
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

  1.  Good Dialogue: ★☆
    • A big part of sports films is the fact that they sort of need to be inspirational, and one major way they achieve this is through big, extravagant speeches made to the main player.  Either by their coach, a family member, a friend, you name it. While there were little mini speeches here and there throughout the film (if you can call them that), nothing stuck. Nothing felt unique. Instead, everything felt a wee bit forgettable in the long run. So, once again, we’re riding the one-star train.
  2.  Good Balance: ★★
    • And we’re back to two stars! Yes, this movie has a mostly decent story balance, despite one major question I have regarding the narrative arc (see below). Other than that, the film was easy to understand, there wasn’t an overabundance of characters, nor an overabundance of stories. It was quite clear in its intentions to tell a story about a man who loves his sport and how that’s his entire life. Two stars here.
  3.  Good Story: ★☆
    • And, back to the one-star train. The story itself was okay, nothing more, nothing less. The entire idea of Vinny getting into the car wreck, transforming his life in a way that he didn’t want was an interesting angle, to be fair, but it was introduced a little too late into the game at the same time. Timing is everything, and I think this was introduced a bit too late.
  4.  Original: ★☆
    • Original in what sense? That the guy broke his neck and never lost the courage or passion to fight?  I guess, but the fact of the matter is, this once again occurs about halfway into the film, making a majority of this film…well…unoriginal at the same time. So, one star. I almost gave it nothing, but good job on breaking his neck.
  5.  Interesting: ☆
    • In general, sports are not really that interesting to me. Not even the little bit of originality for this movie really interested me. Maybe it would have, say, if it happened earlier, before I got bored, but even then, I doubt it. You see, a part of what interests me is the acting, is the characters, is the concept, and all three of those things were sort of lacking from the get go for me…so for the most part, I was pretty bored. No stars.

 

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★☆☆☆

 

  1.  Visuals: ★☆
    • Business as usual here, really. There wasn’t anything amazing about the visuals, nor was there anything terrible about them either. It wasn’t a movie that focused on that sort of thing. The only way they could have gotten a better score is if there was something specific about the visuals that peaked my interest while watching it. Seeing how it didn’t, it got one star.
  2.  Directing: ★★
    • Now, as boring as I found the movie at times, I still must commend the director. He had a script to work off of, which had characters, and of course he had actors. He did everything to the best of his ability, and I saw nothing wrong with the job that he did for this film. Two stars.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • The same goes for editing as directing actually, there’s some really nicely stitched together scenes in this film.
  4.  Advertisement: ★☆
    • I would have given this two stars other than the fact that it was a little bit false as far as the advertising went. The film summary clearly talks about a car crash that he experiences in the film as if that were the reason for the movie…well, while it happens, it doesn’t happen until halfway through, which is not at all what I was expecting. In fact, once you cross a certain threshold of time, you almost feel spoiled by that short summary because it doesn’t happen within that first half hour. So, one star here, unfortunately.
  5.  Music: ★☆
    • Another part of sports films that do a decent job at inspiring an audience has to do with music. Think Eye of the Tiger in Rocky, for example. I mean, music that really pumps you up and gears you up, ready to watch that final battle in that final climax. Yeah, nothing about that can be found here. Just typical music score stuff. One point.

 

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

 

  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • Yes, there’s definitely a clear introduction in this film. It introduces you to all of the main players that it’ll return to throughout the film, and what role they more or less have in the movie. All that and more can be found in this intro.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★☆
    • No, no, no, no. This is all wrong. According to the IMDb summary (and many other sources), the movie is about a guy breaking his neck, which turns his life upside down and changes the course of the film – which is what an inciting incident is, guys! But it doesn’t happen until way later on. The real inciting incident actually comes down to him getting knocked out hard enough to go to the hospital. The only way he could return to boxing at that point was to go up a few weight sizes.
    • If anything, the car wreck acts as a crossing the threshold moment, but I mean, that’s really stretching it, given how far in the movie that is. Instead, I see the car wreck as something else entirely. One star.
  3.  Obstacles: ★☆
    • I see the car wreck as an obstacle on the narrative arc scale. Usually, you see a number of obsacles that the main character needs to push through…but this time, it seems the car wreck is the one and only obstacle. It’s big, sure, but it’s still only one thing…which might make you feel like you’re missing something. Because traditionally speaking, you are. One star.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★☆
    • I know what you’re thinking. How can you screw up a climax in a boxing movie? How? Easy, by having a boxing match of the century (like always) that’s extremely boring (atypical). It was just a couple of guys boxing, and truly…at this point, I really didn’t care who would win. One star.
  5.  Falling Action: ★☆
    • Now, this is sort of typical for true stories and sports films alike. They don’t really have endings. The boxer typically wins before going directly to the credits, not allowing for there to be any sort of falling action. So technically, I was ready to give this no stars at all, which is completely standard for this type of movie. However, there is a very, very short little falling action…so I give it one star…good job.

 

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

 

  1.  Rewatchability: ☆
    • Yes, you read that right. There are no stars given for the overall entertainment category, let’s get into why real quick. As far as rewatchability is concerned, if I turned on the television and noticed this movie would be playing, I wouldn’t waste time…I’d either turn off the TV to read, or change the channel. I don’t care to see this again. No stars.
  2.  Fun: ☆
    • Is it fun? No, as I”ve said a few times already, I consider it to be quite a boring film. Not just because it’s a sports film, but because there are too many issues here and there that could have been better. Like acting, characters, chemistry, dialogue, even music. So no, I wasn’t thrilled with it. No stars.
  3.  Impulse to buy it:
    • As if this was even a serious question after I said I’d waste no time turning off the TV if I saw it was playing. No stars.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it:
    • The only reason why I’d have an impulse to talk to someone about this movie would probably be to stay away from it…given its boring nature, but I don’t hate it enough to do that, either. So…no stars.
  5.  Sucks the audience in:
    • Bleed for This does the opposite of sucking an audience in. No stars.

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Passion & Inspiration
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

Now, we’re onto our specialty categories, specifically tailored for Bleed for Us. The first up is a genre-specific for sports films.  These types of movies need to inspire an audience, they need to make us feel like someday, we might get into that sport because the movie made it look so awesome. It also needs the characters on screen to be passionate about their craft. I’ll say this much, Vinny is the most passionate person in this film. He loves the sport, he lives it, breathes it, and is willing to risk his life to continue boxing…but at the same time, the movie fails to inspire me in any way.  Heck, even Here Comes the Boom inspired me more than this one. Five stars.

Twist on the Sport
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Sports films are sort of like horror films, in the way that they have more pressure on them to change things up. If you’ve ever watched a long-running horror franchise, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say they really change things up to remain fresh. You expect the same thing out of sports films, because you know how easy it is to get caught in the same-old, same-old. So this film does that. They break a man’s neck, set him up in a halo brace for six months, not even sure if he’ll ever walk again, and his intentions to make a comeback regardless – is what gives this sports film the twist I was looking for. Ten stars.

Balancing Life & Sport
★★★★★★★★★★

 

Too much of a good or bad thing can always be a bad thing. That’s why I hate to watch sports films that focus too much on the sport and too little on the main character’s personal life. All the great sports films have figured how to balance that to make a movie that even non-sports fans can love. So, as I expected, the car crash provided a lot of time at home with family to balance out all that sports stuff. Once again, they actually do a decent job here. Ten more stars.

Proper Maturity for the Role
★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

 

I added this category because not only is it important for all sports films, it’s especially important for Miles Teller playing in a sports film. Why? Because Miles Teller is a whiney, snotty-nosed, annoying douchebag in most of his films, so that’s what I feared the most. So how does he do here? Quite frankly, he does okay. He has a lot more depth than you normally see from his roles, but at the same time, that little douchey personality resurfaces when he’s trying to make a sarcastic joke. The sarcasm I can deal with, his atti-Teller-tude, I can’t. Five stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

 

This, of course, is a category I add to my specialty categories because as I like to say, I’m a kind enough critic to know that if a movie is halfway decent in the way they do things. If the movie looks nice and feels like they put a lot of effort in, I need to reward that in general – and this is how I do it. Thankfully, Bleed for Us is indeed decent enough to warrant another ten points. Which means the specialty categories were what mostly saved this movie from having a pretty low score. It’s not the best, but it’ll do, pig, it’ll do.

RATING: 64/100

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