You'll stand up and cheer for this feel-good sports thriller starring Brandon Routh ('Superman Returns'). The ancient sport of lacrosse has been part of their tribal heritage for centuries, but the Native American players on the Crooked Arrows high school team are long-time losers. When former star player Joe Logan (Routh) agrees to coach the rag-tag group to seal the deal on a lucrative casino project, he sets out to turn the chumps into champs and, in the process, learns the value of loyalty himself. If the Arrows can learn to shoot straight and challenge their prep school rivals, these fast-breaking warriors may just pull off the ultimate upset and win it all!
‘Crooked Arrows’ might be the first feature length narrative film on the fastest-growing sport, Lacrosse. ‘Crooked Arrows’ was inspirational and an underdog story at heart. Now I know we have seen our fair share of underdog films, such as; ‘Rocky’, ‘Underdogs’, and ‘Remember the Titans’, but where ‘Crooked Arrows’ differs is that it shows a sport not only from its physical aspect, but also its spiritual, artistic, and historic background. While there is an overabundance of cheesy heart-felt moments in this film, ‘Crooked Arrows’ has enough character and inspiration to rise above recent sports films.
‘Crooked Arrows’ takes place in upstate New York where an Indian tribe struggles to balance preserving their heritage, culture, and land with the demands of operating a second-rate casino. The tribe’s agreement with ‘the white man’ requires them to expand their building plans in one month. Now that the time has come for them to start construction, the tribe starts to appreciate the problem with the expansion – that it will encroach on what little land and culture they have left.
Part of the Indian culture that has been lost over the years is lacrosse. Lacrosse was actually invented by Native Americans, and they would sometimes play the game for days on end and sometimes to the death in honor of their gods. But today, the members of the tribe no longer know how to play the game well. The high school students are all members of their school’s lacrosse team, but despite their rich history in the sport, the students do not see themselves as a team, are reluctant to play, and have never won a game. That is, until a new coach is put in charge of the team.
Joe Logan (Brandon Routh), the casino’s owner, starts to train the lacrosse team. Joe’s father was the tribe’s former lacrosse coach. His father not only trained Joe how to play the game, but led him on a spiritual journey of self-discovery where, through the sport, Joe gained an appreciation for the history and culture of his people once again. Joe trains his new team of high school students the same way. Not only do they learn to play the game right, but they become acquainted with their ancestors, traditions, and original language. This makes them a better team and better people who can, of course take on the evil uppity preparatory schools.
‘Crooked Arrows’ doesn’t really change the sports film genre much. It is a little sappy at times, and some of the acting besides Routh is sub-par. But, its charming, family-friendly story makes ‘Crooked Arrows’ a solid film. What ‘Rocky’ did for boxing, ‘Vision Quest’ did for wrestling, and ‘Remember the Titans’ did for football –‘Crooked Arrows’ does for Lacrosse, Native American history, and friendship. It gets people excited and learn about the sport, lacrosse. I’ve never played lacrosse, but after seeing ‘Crooked Arrows’, I might pick up my first lacrosse stick.
'Crooked Arrows' comes with a nice 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The image always looks pristine and sharp. There are tons of scenes in the open daylight that allow for some very vivid detail and depth. The fine detail showcases great closeups of the actor's faces that reveal individual hairs, makeup blemishes, and wrinkles quite nicely.
The green fields and mountains look excellent in the wider shots as well. Things get a tiny bit softer during the evening scenes and flashbacks, but it's nothing to really write home about. The colors are bright and vibrant and are well saturated. During the flashback scenes thought, the colors are overly done, but that was intentional to tell us we were in a flashback. The skin tones are natural and the black levels are mostly deep and inky. There is a little video noise that pops up here and there, but it is not rampant. This video presentation is quite good.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix, and is not as good as I was expecting it to be, considering this is a sport's movie. The sport of lacrosse is usually rough with tackles, hits, passes, and goals, which you would think would make for a great and intense audio track. But unfortunately, that is not what we have here. Instead, we have a light audio mix that is front heavy. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. There were no pops, cracks, or hissing throughout.
The sound effects are not too loud though, and when games of lacrosse are being played, the noises don't pack a punch like they should. You'll hear some nature sounds and other ambient noises from the surrounds, but it's very soft and light. And there is almost not directionality with any of the lacrosse games which is a let down.The dynamic range is rather wide and when the musical score is playing, there is some decent highs and lows. But overall, I think this audio presentation could have been tons better.
Audio Commentary - A commentary track with director Steve Rash and producers Mark Ellis and Neal Powless. The three men seem to have been recorded separately and discuss some of the technical aspects of making the film. They talk about how they converted some of the locations into lacrosse fields and their casting decisions. Oddly, the three spend a lot of time praising one another for their work, which gets old very fast.
The Story of 'Crooked Arrows' (HD, 5 mins.) - A standard promo feature that has interviews with the cast and crew and some actual pro Lacrosse players. They discuss the origins of the story and the themes in the movie.
Keepin' It Real – 'Crooked Arrows' Lacrosse (HD, 6 mins.) - A cool feature that has real lacrosse players and coaches discussing the aspects of the game, it's history, and how they made it realistic on set. Brandon Routh even talks about training in lacrosse for the film.
Native American Lacrosse – A 'Crooked Arrows' Tribute (HD, 5 mins.) - Another feature that has interviews with the cast and crew that focuses more on the Native American aspect of the sport and its influences it has on modern sports today.
The Game of Life: Heart and Spirit of the Onondaga (HD, 14 mins.) - A look at the game and sport as it was played hundreds of years ago without the modern advancement of equipment. This goes into a lot of its history and rules.
Trailer (HD, 2 mins.) - The trailer for the film.
'Crooked Arrows' is a decent sport's movie, despite its cliches. It has great atmosphere, and it's great to finally see a movie about the ever growing game of lacrosse. There are some solid performances and some great gameplay here. The video looks good, but the audio is somewhat lacking. There are some very good extras with this release as well. If you're a fan of sport's films or a fan of lacrosse, you'll want to check this out.