Decent document of the extreme wheelchair sport, of little to no interest.
No-one is murdered in Murderball at all, which is a highly disappointing example of misleading advertising. Instead, Murderball is a documentary charting the progress of the United States Quadriplegic Rugby team; the game of Murderball having undergone a more corporate friendly nomenclature change. This is a highly disappointing example of misleading advertising, as the game itself winds up being less critical to the film than the character of those who play it. Common enough documentary technique, hampered in this case by many of the characters featured being roundly unsympathetic and far less interesting that the game they play.
Murderball does its best to inject drama into proceedings, or try to reflect the real-life dramas, depending on whether or not you truly believe that the act of observing something changes that which is observed. Current star U.S. player Mark Zupan found himself wheelchair bound after getting caught up in his ex-best friend Christopher Igoe's drunk driving accident. Relations have been somewhat strained since. Will a happy ending be found?
Ex-current star U.S. player Joe Soares finds himself deselected from the team, and isn't best chuffed about it. In what seems to be a fit of pique, he heads up North to coach the Canadian Quadriplegic Rugby team, the Sergeant Slaughter to the Hulk Hogan the U.S. team is presented as. Will he lead then to defeat his old comrades in the world championships and more importantly, for paralympic gold? Alternatively, will a team not mentioned at all in the film win instead? Only time, or a quick Google search will tell.
It's not really Murderball's fault I don't like it, I think. I've little interest in the sport, and thanks to their initial, um, robust attitude to interpersonal communication or asshole-icity as I like to call it, little interest in the main focal points of the piece. Their more agreeable side is shown by closing time, but long before then my attention wanders and is difficult to marshal it back on the intended track.
The sport itself actually looks quite interesting and fun to watch, but this isn't the place to watch it. The action is edited in the quick cut, inaccessible style that befits the film's status as an MTV production. This is a documentary however, not EPSN. It's not Murderball's fault that it's not a compelling sports broadcast.
It's probably not Murderball's fault that it's not a compelling drama, although it might be. Some of the strife involved does seem to be rather forced, but I could be misinterpreting it, returning to the quantum mechanics-esque act of observing something changes that which is observed theorem or be dead wrong in some other interesting fashion.
It's not Murderball's fault I don't care about it very much. It's not setting out to alienate me, but at the same time it's doing precious little to intrigue me. It's doing everything it sets out to do with competence. Lots of people will love it. If you're of the opinion that disabled folks can't live full and productive lives this will set you straight, but there can't be too many folks who think like that. Certainly not folks wise enough to be reading this site, anyway. If you're of the opinion that disabled folks can't be irritating twits this will set you straight, but there can't be too many folks who think like that. Certainly not folks wise enough to be reading this site, anyway.
So Murderball doesn't grab me then. That does not mean that it will not grab you, dear reader. It's a fairly uninspired and uninspiring documentary, but it's by no means an incompetent one. Rather like The Aristocrats, or even DiG!, it the sort of thing I watch with mild interest then promptly forget forever with a slight shrug of the shoulders.
That's not Murderball's fault, but it's certainly its problem. It becomes my problem when contemplating ratings. It's by no means a bad documentary, or a bad film, it's just a film that doesn't appeal to me. That's not Murderball's fault, but it doesn't stop me doing this.
Were I in the business of passing quantifiable judgements, I'd award this 2/5 TippyMarks.
Dana Adam Shapiro