Michael Jordan to the Max

on May 05, 2000 by Dwayne E. Leslie
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   By using state-of-the-art time-bending visual technology, the film opens with a coming-at-you "bullet time" shot sequence of a slam-dunk originating from the free throw line, with an in-the-round "Matrix" twist. It is at that point the audience realizes "Michael Jordan to the Max" isn't your average documentary. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne, "To the Max" chronicles Michael Jordan's farewell 1997-98 season with the Chicago Bulls as they make a successful run to winning their sixth World Championship. The film seats viewers courtside and even on the hardwood floor. Because the action is larger than life on the Imax screen, one feels like a phantom player in the middle of the furiously-paced sport as the in-your-face basketball action causes spectators' bodies to instinctively move when the players are running toward the camera.

   The film documents how Chicago Bulls No. 23 gave his all and then some, whether for the good of the team or for first-time visitors that had never seen him play in person. But the film also depicts the trying times in Jordan's life. Failing to make the basketball team in his sophomore year is what fired him up for the sport; he vowed that he would never let himself feel that he wasn't good enough. In Jordan's professional career, he missed 13,156 baskets and, by example, he showed how not to let past failures hinder his future performances. He was the first one to practice and the last one to leave as he struggled to make his weaknesses his strengths. This exploration of Jordan's superhuman focus gives a keen insight into his psyche as he uses discipline, determination, dedication, teamwork, fear, disappointment and failure to make himself and those around him both physically and mentally strong.

   Although Jordan is a major influence to aspiring athletes, he is equally inspiring to those seeking to better themselves through education. Just as his father impacted his life, he is doing to same for his kids. This triumphant story of an extremely positive role model is a rewarding treat. "To the Max" leaves viewers fired up and motivated to follow through with their dreams. Starring Michael Jordan. Directed by James D. Stern and Don Kempf. Written by Jonathan Hock and James D. Stern. Produced by Don Kempf, Steve Kempf and James D. Stern. A Giant Screen Sports release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 46 min

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