|The 2006 FIFA World Cup Film: The Grand Finale (2006)
Starring: Pierce Brosnan
Director: Michael Apted
The 2006 FIFA World Cup should have been remembered as one of the finest outings in the 100-year history of the tournament. Powerhouse teams like England, Germany and Argentina showcased their strongest squads in nearly forty years, while African nations like Ghana and the Ivory Coast gave soccer fans a sneak peak at their impending takeover of the world’s favorite sport. And then there was the United States. Hot off a Sweet Sixteen appearance in the previous tournament, Sam’s Army looked stronger then ever, but a tough group draw (and some dreadful performances) led to the team’s early exit from the competition. The tournament also saw defensive-minded Italy take home the top prize with a winning combination of dedication and strong play, but no one seemed to notice. Instead, the one thing that did grab everyone’s attention was the quarrel between French superstar Zinedine Zidane and Italian defender Marco Materazzi that lead to the infamous Head Butt Heard ‘Round the World.
Thankfully, this embarrassing event doesn’t receive nearly as much attention in the 2006 FIFA World Cup documentary “The Grand Finale.” Narrated by Pierce Brosnan, the film isn’t so much a documentary as it is a massive highlight reel covering the progress of the entire tournament, from the first round of group play to the nail-biting final match between Italy and France. Along the way, the audience is treated to all the best matches and goals, not to mention some of the more unique moments like the Argentinean squad’s 26 perfect passes before a successful attempt on goal, the record-matching 20 bookings given out during the Portugal/Netherlands game, and yes, even Zidane’s shameful attack on Materazzi.
Using never-before-seen footage from on and off the field, “The Grand Finale” is the ultimate World Cup experience and warrants a purchase from anyone who considers themselves a serious fan of the sport. Also featured on the single-disc release are over 45 minutes of interviews with some of soccer’s biggest stars, including Didier Drogba, Hidetoshi Nakata, Jens Lehman, Michael Ballack, Fabio Cannavaro, as well as Horacio Elizondo, the official referee of both the opening and closing matches. The interviews are more about the state of the game than actual events at the World Cup, but it still adds an extra layer to the whole behind-the-scenes experience. And while it would have been nice to see the entire final match included as a bonus feature, there’s still more than enough here to keep fans pleased until the next tournament rolls around in 2010.