It's the last second of the last game of the last season and one kid's last chance. His inspiration is high because his football coach told him he's the best. The kid carries the football through the frontline in slow motion, plows through his enemy, and wins the game with no time on the clock, all for his friend in the hospital. That massive, overwrought stack of clichés comes in the closing moments, around five minutes of screen time. Imagine how awful that is for over two hours.
To its credit, Gridiron Gang is a wonderful story. It's based on real events, it's finely acted, direction is lively, and yes, it's inspirational. Apparently through, these troubled teen movies don't have any effect on the target audience because they just… keep… coming.
As Glory Road is to Remember the Titans, Gridiron Gang is Coach Carter all over again. While focusing on different sports, they're the same movie. In turn, those movies are the same as another.
From the trailers, it's not hard to decipher where this would end up. There's the coach who believes, the faculty who does not, and the kids who could be slapped upside the head every ten minutes on the dot and still not get a clue. The troubled teens do something wrong, but hey, they're football players so breaking the law is secondary.
Football sequences fail to bring anything new to the table. Opposing teams have three lines of dialogue between them, and there's no attempt to build up the opponents. The audience should know that the team being coached by The Rock is the underdog because that's how these movies work. Hits are overly exaggerated to the point where no one would survive over half of them.
Toss in a few inspirational speeches and training vignettes and you've seen everything Gridiron Gang has to offer. When that final game rolls around and someone actually decided to use slow motion for dramatic effect, the remote is close to being thrown through the TV. You're not rooting for the kids; you're angry that you wasted two hours on yet another clichéd sports movie.
The film comes to DVD with an inconsistent transfer. Film grain is unusually high, and the picture varies from sharp to soft depending on the scene. Details nicely come through, especially during close-ups. Black levels are incredible.
Standard 5.1 audio lacks a lot of punch. It's also lacking in surround usage. Games are sadly quiet and limited to the front speakers for any noticeable positional audio. Bass does kick in when needed, yet it rarely has that extra bit to make the viewer feel the hits or gunfire.
Extras are weak at best, and they're infuriating. In 1993, a TV documentary chronicled the true story behind the film. The closing credits take select clips and interviews from the real players for a nice closing montage. The full documentary is not only missing, not a single extra provides any information on the real story.
Instead, you're given a six-minute look at the director with cast and crew praising him. Another six minutes focuses on the training the actors went through. Rock Takes the Field is a pointless look at a single scene in the film in which the ex-pro wrestler takes to the field. A mildly fun multi-camera feature lets you look at a few football scenes from the many cameras used to capture them.
A commentary from the writer and director explain story shortcuts to make the film work better on screen (the administration of facility wasn't completely against the idea as portrayed). Finally, a wide selection of deleted scenes totaling 23 minutes accompanies a varied list of trailers.
Gridiron Gang managed to squeeze by with a PG-13. There are some brutal deaths in the film, along with extensive language. If you're sensitive about what you're kids watch, this is a film to avoid.