Friday, January 16, 2009

The Express DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Bittersweet Bio-Pic about Gridiron Great Comes to DVD

Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) had to overcome some very humble roots on his way to gridiron greatness, having been raised in rural Pennsylvania by his grandparents until the age of 12. During those formative years, he forged a very close bond with the man he called Pops (Charles S. Dutton), a coal miner who instilled both a solid work ethic and a quiet sense of dignity in his impressionable young grandson. Those character traits would prove to be priceless to Ernie in scaling the obstacles he would encounter just because he was born black in an age when intolerance and segregation were the order of the day.
Both his athletic prowess and his yearning for equality are the subject of this bittersweet bio-pic based on the best-selling biography of the same name by Robert C. Gallagher. Following in the footsteps of the legendary Jim Brown (Darrin Dewitt Henson) to Syracuse University, Ernie went on to eclipse his predecessor, leading their alma mater to a national championship while becoming the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy as the nation’s best football player.
Though drafted by the Cleveland Browns, the glory was not to last, as Ernie would succumb to leukemia at the tender age of 23 without ever having a chance to play in the NFL. Directed by Gary Fleder, The Express does an excellent job of chronicling each of the critical touchstones in the abbreviated life of a role model worthy of emulation, whether he’s being refused accommodations in the South at a “White Only” hotel or being threatened on account of his skin color by fans from an opponent’s school.
Overall, a fine addition to the recent genre of socially-conscious sports flicks highlighting individual triumphs not merely in and of themselves, but for the collective meaning of those historic moments to the masses of black people ever in search of civil rights.

Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated PG for violence, mature themes, ethnic slurs and brief sensuality.
Running time: 129 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Director’s commentary, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and four featurettes.

To see a trailer for The Express, visit:

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