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    February 20, 2012

    OSCAR MOVIE REVIEW: MONEYBALL

    MONEYBALL (N/A)

    Genre: Drama/Comedy
    Release Date: Not released
    Running Time: 133 minutes
    Distributor: Sony Pictures
    Director: Bennett Miller
    Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, Steven Zaillian
    Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt

    Plot: Based on a true story, Moneyball is a movie for anybody who has ever dreamed of taking on the system. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball's conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, Beane will have to outsmart the richer clubs. The onetime jock teams with Ivy League grad Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs, and win games. It's more than baseball, it's a revolution - one that challenges old school traditions and puts Beane in the crosshairs of those who say he's tearing out the heart and soul of the game. REVIEWS AFTER THE JUMP

    Review: Someone lauded to me once how the Academy would love to watch a sport drama about an underdog team. 2009’s ‘The Blind Side’, last year’s ‘The Fighter’ and once on a time’s ‘Chariots of Fire’ set some of the finest examples here. 2011 is no different at all with the enrolment of director Bennett Miller (‘Capote’) latest offering in this genre plate with the baseball drama ‘Moneyball’. The movie is a tricky one for most of us here in Malaysia due to the absolute lack of exposure on this sport. True, ‘Moneyball’ can be a dry offering for audiences who know more about soccer and badminton more than this one, but it would not be a major hindrance after all. The reasons are explained later.


     “Moneyball’ visualizes the true story of how a small Major League Baseball team, Oakland Athletics managed to beat the odds against their tiny budget to form a strong team that could rival the other big names. Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the general manager of Oakland Athletics is feeling the impossible and been forced to form a winning team on the early season. Beane forms an unlikely partnership with Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) to form the winning team based on only numbers and statistic data compiled through a system developed by Brand himself.

    The system sees everything from the ability to get the base up to the score runs performance. The team however suffered an unprecedented 11 losses in row. The approach of using numbers from a computer instead of conventional strategy sees Beane been tormented by the media, rival teams and even the growing discontent from his own management board. Instead of giving up to this approach, he is determined the system represents the real strength of the team but only it does not do well due to conflict with which players should go out.


    Foremost, a big kudos for the writers - Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian for producing an upmost polished and throughout screenplay that does not only deal so much on the baseball. It is entirely unexpected to see a screenplay so little on its baseball rules, but fully immersed itself with plenty of number crunching and statistical analytic system called the ‘sabermetrics’. In other words, you do not only see baseball but instead recounting the character moments more than any other. What happens within the turn-around season is highlighted with more than just the shows of the game – but it is an embattlement of glory and defiance with something gutsy intuition and faith to the system.

    With a well-built screenplay, director Bennett Miller steers ‘Moneyball’ into an exciting baseball movie with a smart turning into the right devour path of excellent. I am a little surprised by the fact that the screenplay is indeed highly intelligent in peeling the subject matter in question. There is certainly some questions about how this movie could have been a little far from been a totally new movie that sets itself from the other sport-related movies. Underdog team always ended been a winner and that is why it is often been made as a subject for a film – that is true.


    For most part of the movie, the characters Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) and Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) are the second reason why this movie is so enjoyable. With a solid story, ‘Moneyball’ benefits all around with the highly acclaimed performances by both. Brad Pitt is a reliable draw and is always an excellent player when he is given a serious role to play to. Supposedly, 'Moneyball' tries to captivate the dilemma Billy had when he was just a youngster, falling into the pit of doom when he failed to make impact following gutsy hunch by some scouts who preferred him on the field than some scholarship. It works and that feeling just work perfectly. What is more fascinating is the fact how Jonah Hill, a well-known B-rated comedian is able to pull in an engaging performance as a statistic geek.  It’s hard to see how Jonah Hill can ends been a few notch better than he used to be but for whatever the real reasons are, he is simply amazing in this one.

    Perhaps, in rarity, ‘Moneyball’ is a partial-refreshing smart sport drama that deals with a severely underdog sport team that goes against all the impossible odds to win a championship and surprising the doubters in the process. We heard it timelessly but this Bennett Miller’s helm is a well constructed drama that fills in with substantial amount of drama, thrill and humor. Brad Pitt makes this an easy win, but not quite there yet though.

    MY RATING:
    Story: 3.5
    Casts: 4.0
    Cinematography: 3.5
    Effects: 3.5
    GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 14.7/20.0

    'MONEYBALL' is nominated for 6 categories - BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTOR (Brad Pitt), BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Jonah Hill), BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (Aaron Sorkin & Steven Zaillian), BEST SOUND MIXING and BEST FILM EDITING for the 84th Academy Awards
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