Next Goal Wins Blu-ray Review

4 Stars Quirky underdog sports comedy
Next Goal Wins Review

Taika Waititi’s sports comedy Next Goal Wins is an entertaining dramatization inspired by the award-winning 2014 documentary of the same name.

Next Goal Wins (2023)
Released: 17 Nov 2023
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 104 min
Director: Taika Waititi
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sport
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Oscar Kightley, Kaimana
Writer(s): Taika Waititi, Iain Morris
Plot: The story of the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team, known for a brutal 2001 FIFA match they lost 31-0.
IMDB rating: 6.5
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.00:1
Audio: English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: 1 Hr. 44 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Blu-ray keepcase
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 02/27/2024
MSRP: $29.99

The Production: 4/5

In 2001, the American Samoa soccer team played Australia in an embarrassing 31-0 World Cup defeat. For the next ten years, the team was unable to score even one goal in any international match, and was ranked at the worst national team in the FIFA World ranking. In a last ditch effort to keep the team alive, the US Soccer Federation sends disgraced soccer coach Thomas Rongen (Michael Fassbender) to coach the American Samoa team with only three weeks until their qualification match against Tonga. The team is worse than initially thought, wrought with attention deficit, coordination, and leadership issues. When Rongen realizes he’s got his work cut out for him, team manager Tavita Taumua (Oscar Kightley) befriends Rongen, teaching him the ways and customs of American Samoa with help from team member Jaiyah (Kaimana), a faʻafafine (Samoan for trans) who takes on the role of team captain. Rongen and the team eventually find their way and take on Tonga in the third act.

Co-writer and director of Next Goal Wins, Taika Waititi plays very loose with the facts, using the real events and the documentary as inspiration, to tell an amusing but still very human story of this bunch of misfits who eventually rally together as a team lead by a coach who initially doesn’t want to be there. It may be a bit too goofy at times for some with its self-deprecating humor, but this reviewer found the film to be very entertaining.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

Next Goal Wins was captured in 4.5K resolution using Arri Alexa LF and Mini LF cameras and was completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 2.00:1 aspect ratio. Disney has released this Searchlight title on Blu-ray with a very pleasing 1080p AVC-encoded transfer that presents the film in its original 2.00:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Fine detail was excellent with well-defined fabric textures and facial features. Colors were vibrantly vivid without appearing overly saturated, especially the lush greens of the Hawaiian landscape that substituted for American Samoa. Contrast was also excellent, with deep blacks and strong shadow detail with no evidence of noticeable crush plus bright highlights that never appeared clipped. I also saw no noticeable compression artifacts.

Audio: 4/5

Next Goal Wins was released theatrically with a 5.1 sound mix, and Disney has included a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. This is a fairly standard 5.1 mix, with dialogue directed mostly to the center channel, music and effects spread out over the fronts and surrounds. It’s a fairly tame mix, not really coming to life until the big game match in the third act. LFE is adequate, really offering nothing more than some low-end support to the music tracks featured in the film. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 3.5/5

The Pitch of Life (1080p; 26:48): This is a pretty comprehensive look at the making of Next Goal Wins and the inspiration behind it, featuring interviews with the cast and crew.

Deleted Scene (1080p; 2:38): After viewing this scene, featuring Taiki Waititi as the local priest trying to bless the team before the big match, it is easy to see why it was cut.

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere digital copy code is included.

Overall: 4/5

Although Next Goal Wins plays very loose with the facts, it is still a very entertaining and rather quirky sports comedy from Taiki Waititi.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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