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Michael Jordan to the Max

It may be a scant 45 minutes long, but Michael Jordan to the Max is a stylish bit of documentary filmmaking, both as a peek into the life and career of the legendary Chicago Bulls floor-general and an achievement in the breathtaking, large-screen IMAX format. Using Jordan's final run at an NBA championship with the Bulls as a framework, directors (and Chicago Bulls fanatics) Don Kempf and James D. Stern look back at his mercurial career, from when he first gained national attention at North Carolina with a game-winning jumper that sealed an NCAA national championship, and then onwards to six NBA rings and some big-dollar product endorsements that only cemented his larger-than-life celebrity. Jordan's participation in Michael Jordan to the Max was key, and in several moments he reflects not only on his achievements but also his frustrations and failures, including not making his high school varsity team and his unsuccessful foray into professional baseball. He also discusses his late father — tragically murdered in 1993 — whose encouragement and instruction guided MJ throughout his life. In the midst of these reflections, the Bulls march on to their sixth NBA championship of the '90s, and the only annoyance with the on-court cinematography (and indeed, the entire film, which includes a lot of small inserts) is that everything was shot with the IMAX screen in mind. Eight stories high, the massive format must be taken into account with every shot, and while the tremendous panoramas of Chicago's United Center and other NBA arenas rival Gladiator's CGI Roman coliseum, much of the effect is lost on conventional televisions — you find yourself sitting there thinking "Damn, I wish I'd seen this thing on the big, big screen." Still, anybody with a passing interest in IMAX productions or NBA basketball will want to give Michael Jordan to the Max a spin, and fans of MJ should not hesitate to add this to their collections. Strong anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Includes a commentary with filmmakers/producers James D. Stern, Don Kempf, and Steve Kempf, a 21-minute feature on creating Jordan's "bullet-time" slam-dunk, an additional 2-minute montage of the same, four trailers, three theatrical reviews, and textual notes. Red keep-case.
—JJB



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