MOVIES WITH ISAIAH: 'Air' has old-school format, perfectly captures '80s events


Ben Affleck has created an interesting path for himself as one of the most underrated directors in the medium of cinema. While he is a very talented actor with memorable performances, he has a special gift as a filmmaker with works ranging from "The Town" to "Argo," "Gone Baby Gone" and "Live by Night."

He returns to the director's chair helming the project titled "Air," exploring the history-making creation of Nike sneakers and two entrepreneurs in Sonny Vaccaro and Phil Knight, who take the ultimate leap of faith by placing all their hopes and aspirations into landing basketball rookie from North Carolina in 1984. Anyone familiar with the popularity of Nike knows these two innovative visionaries successfully landed Michael Jordan and how his association, likeness, competitive drive and athletic qualities made the shoe a worldwide phenomenon within sports and popular culture history.

Viewers shouldn't find themselves concerned about any significant spoilers since it's practically a certainty of the world being familiar with the Air Jordan Nike sneakers and Michael Jordan. The film stars Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman, Chris Tucker, Marlon Wayans and Viola Davis bringing this tale to life for the silver screen. Because the entire circumstance takes place in the '80s, it was refreshing to experience that level of atmosphere again. I was born on Aug. 28, 1981, and throughout the period of '80s, I remember every single product placement commercial, the music, fashion, newest technological advancements at the time and how the world reacted to the arrival of Michael Jordan.

One of the key dynamics pertaining to the film that separates it from past or current sports biographical stories is the clever dialogue. Writer Alex Convery created meticulous, humorous and witty dialogue performed to perfection from Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Bateman and Chris Tucker. The four main actors have an obvious, magnetic, sincere chemistry with each other, making it impossible to ignore or not enjoy the conversations on display. Bateman has become one of my favorite actors/comedians with any performance he provides. His work here is another highlight by the presentation of his usual charm, dry humor and sarcastic wit showcasing how his talent is more based off reaction and facial expressions. Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro is passionate, humble, emotional and brings energy to the role that is very charming and organic. Affleck as Phil Knight is presented as reserved, somewhat hesitant, and traditional when presented with the risky deal of landing a rookie athlete that will change the sports landscape.

It's important to remember that "Air" isn't about focusing on experiencing the achievements or competition of Michael Jordan on the big screen. What Ben Affleck and Alex Convery succeeded in capturing was a piece of history that's still spoken about, sold and will continue to live on for years to come with its legendary status. What I found memorable is the memories that flashed within my mind of how I begged and pleaded with my father to purchase a pair of Air Jordans for me. The mesmerizing commercial campaign painted a picture of making children believe that a pair of sneakers could or would grant us athletic abilities on the basketball court.

Another beautiful element is how the film was shot in a seemingly traditional format resembling grainy old-school footage from the late '70s into the '80s period of films and television. Watching the story unfold reminded me of how different films and shows look on VHS compared to DVD. There's an organic, charming quality to the old-school format of filming that's truly magical in my opinion.

Affleck brought memories of the '80s to life with this film and his directorial vision. It's a wonderful, refreshing and interesting look back onto the creation of a sneaker that literally changed the world. "Air" is another favorite film of mine that I intend to purchase when it's released on DVD. Highly recommended simply for the great and charming acting, wonderful and intelligent dialogue and beautiful capturing of the '80s time period of music, fashion, sports and product placements. A perfect cinematic experience in my opinion. My final rating is two thumbs up and another 10/10 for "Air." It's a must-see.

Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.