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BMZ Review: Michael Jordan to the Max
By Herb Lash


BMZ Review of MJ to the Max
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: November 2000


Category: Reviews

Once, while preparing for a college formal during the apex of Michael Jordan's incomparable career, I passed on the bozo tuxedo that came at the standard rental rate and laid down an extra seventy bucks for an upgrade to the Michael Jordan model.  It never once occurred to me to wonder why Michael Jordan needed, of all things, his own line of tuxedoes  - I was feeling the MJ magic all night long. For the same reason, it bears no fruit to wonder why Michael Jordan needs his own IMAX® movie.

It's called MICHAEL JORDAN TO THE MAX, and the people will pay to see it, to see Him.  Michael Jordan does in this movie everything you have already seen him do - only this time he does it bigger.  Produced by Chicago-based Giant Screen Sports, the film is essentially a mega-budget highlight reel/puff piece.  Still, Jordan is Jordan, so the film is never less than appealing - and incredibly enough, there are even a few things left to be learned about this most famous of public heroes (he's afraid of water).

The film features the standard Jordan biographical background: cut from the high school team, he works harder and proves them all wrong, goes on to hit the NCAA winning shot for North Carolina, dazzles as an NBA rookie and dedicates himself to becoming the highest flying, best defending, jump-shooting, rim-wrecking hoopster who ever played the game.  JORDAN TO THE MAX could be the definitive filmed version of the Jordan story - if it weren't for the fact that countless cloned versions of this story already exist. But narrative content is really beside the point.  The filmmakers give us what we always want when it comes to MJ: images of a man caught in the act of being superhuman.

The film gives a game-by-game treatment of the1998 Eastern Conference playoff series against the Indiana Pacers and the ensuing Championship run against the Utah Jazz - all seen from the strategic and emotional point of view of MJ.  A strong case is made for Jordan possessing the ability to mentally will the Chicago Bulls to victory whenever necessary.  Here we should pause and give thanks that he never fell into communist hands.

IMAX cameras on the court capture MJ's final run at the NBA championship so close-up that the crystal clear shots create a feel only slightly removed from that of courtside seats. Jordan and company are incredibly large, fast and graceful. The well-positioned camera is almost always locked on Michael, whether playing, sitting or standing around. This leads to one nearly heartwarming sideline exchange between a star struck towel boy and the great God MJ -- a scene Jordan is said to have liked most about the film.

Shots of the sometimes stunning city of Chicago are interspersed throughout, and a high energy, hip soundtrack keeps pace with the always cool Jordan.  Biography, archival photos, interviews, candid moments and game footage are well balanced and make for a fluid, fast pace.  There are a few special timeouts for staged, super-clear, super-slow motion, superduper, signature MJ dunks - these money shots are something close to sports-porn. Dr. J was dunking from the freethrow line in the Eighties, but nobody flies like Air Jordan.  The spread Eagle Jordan dunk is incredibly familiar and universally recognized - it no longer surprises, but it's fun to watch and it always impresses.  The same is true of MICHAEL JORDAN TO THE MAX.

IMAX® is a registered trademark of IMAX Corporation.

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