Review | Pelé

Pelé, Netflix’s newest documentary about the legendary Brazilian soccer player, is a disappointing and incomplete account of the life of the man known to be the greatest soccer player of all time. Directed by Ben Nicholas and David Tryhorn, the documentary is often dark and gloomy, as it revisits its subject’s life from its humble beginnings to the glorious days of his career.

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pelé is a star like no other. Considered by FIFA as the world’s greatest player, and voted by the International Federation of Football and Statistics (IFFS) as World Player of the Century, Pelé was named by Time as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century and is by many considered the “king of soccer”.

But Pelé’s life was not all glory and accolades, and not addressing his transgressions is a great disservice to the story. Although the documentary briefly mentions the player’s friendship with authoritarian Brazilian president, Emilio Garrastazu Médici, and suggests that his lack of political positioning was beneficial to his career during the country’s dictatorship, one of the cruelest in Latin America, it didn’t surprise me that the matter wasn’t discussed with more care and depth. Pelé has long been known for avoiding hard conversations.

Pelé / Netflix

It is unusual that the directors did not include interviews with Pelé’s family members, with the exception of his sister, Maria Lúcia do Nascimento. The commentary on his life is entirely done by former teammates, renowned sports journalists and politicians, such as former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. All these exclusions make the documentary incomplete and one-sided.

On a positive note, deep care is given to illustrate the significance of Pelé’s life with black and white pictures on his days as a player for the Santos Futebol Clube, and impressive colored footage of his participation during various FIFA World Cup championships and street celebrations, which was to me the highlight of the documentary, and a huge contrast with the overall gloomy tone that carries throughout everything.

Therefore, it is unfortunate that a series of bad decisions by the directors turn Pelé into a cheap and mediocre documentary, one that, instead of commemorating the singular life of a legendary athlete, tries to paint him under a mushy and nostalgic light. And as Fernando Henrique Cardoso brilliantly said, “Pelé managed to weld his glory to the glory of Brazil. His myth is our myth,” but no one would know that by watching Pelé.

⭐️ ⭐️

Review | Finding ‘Ohana

Finding ‘Ohana debuted on Netflix this weekend, and it’s already one of my favorite movies this year. Directed by Jude Weng, a Taiwan-born American director who made a name for herself behind the camera on shows like Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat, Finding ‘Ohana is a fast paced, family friendly adventure about uncovering pirate treasures and mending broken relationships with loved ones.

Taking advantage of the beautiful island of Oahu as a backdrop for its story, Finding ‘Ohana shows what happens when two New York raised, always-bickering siblings, Pili (Kea Peahu) and Ioane (Alex Aiono), are forced to spend summer in Hawaii with their mother, and help their estranged grandpa recover from a heart attack. Their troubles start when Pili comes across an old pirate journal and decides to search for its treasure.

Finding ‘Ohana is a captivating experience from beginning to end – it’s only problem being that it runs a bit too long. However, it is highly entertaining, funny, and parents won’t have much problems keeping the little ones engaged.

JENNIFER ROSE CLASEN/NETFLIX © 2021

The movie is also a great push by Netflix towards representation. Filmed in Hawaii, most of its cast is local and brings back veteran actors Kelly Hu, who played the character Lady Deathstrike in 2003 X2: X-Men United, and Branscomb Richmond. And, speaking as someone who’s trying to raise a multicultural family myself, I loved the simplicity of how the movie shows the importance of knowing where you came from.

For those who enjoyed classics like “The Goonies”, or even more modern movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Tomb Raider, Finding ‘Ohana may be just the perfect watch for you and your family.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐