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View All Pelé: Birth of a Legend News
All Critics (30)
| Top Critics (10)
| Fresh (9)
| Rotten (21)
This cable-ready biopic of the Brazilian soccer star covers the eight years leading up to his triumphant performance at the 1958 World Cup finals.
"Pelé" is hagiography. But appealing hagiography.
The story of Brazilian soccer's ascension to the world stage is a remarkable one, and the film would have benefitted if the Zimbalists had found a way to add a bit of depth - or even doubt - to the legend.
The rags to riches story of the first 17 years in the life of soccer superstar Pelé are covered in this painfully routine biopic.
It's as if Pelé is no longer a flesh-and-blood character, but a cog in an inspiration machine that pumps out manufactured conflict and expected victory.
Between the whitewashing factors and the very familiar narrative beats, there's a lot of this movie that's not much more than a tolerable drag.
The film's predictability is counterbalanced by a terrific score comprised of several styles of Latin music, colorful production design, lots of special effects, and some memorable plays by the child actors who portray Pelé.
The film is beautiful and entertaining even though it has some limitations, particularly in the oversimplification of the economic and racial dynamics surrounding places and events.
The good points outweigh the bad, and if you're a football fan, you'll realize why football's 'the beautiful game' description came to be associated with Pele.
Thankfully, the actors who play Pele - Leonardo Lima Carvalho as kid Pele and Kevin de Paula as young Pele - are so genuine and have such nifty footwork that they make the proceedings fun and beautiful.
The reality is that, even in soccer, the development of the story falls short. [Full review in Spanish]
The film looks more like a long propaganda video, an extensive commercial paid by Pelé himself. [Full review in Spanish]
There is no doubt that Pele helped shape world football as we know it into the beautiful game and hoist Brazil on to the world stage of footballing greatness. This film covers all that and whilst it only covers Brazil's first world cup win you cannot deny the talent that Pele have. Great to watch at times, even if formulaic and not entirely accurate.
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