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What to know: Loved Every Second! I remember watching these games in 2022 so it's very interesting to know what was going on behind the scenes.
Recommended age 8-18
49 minutes
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I loved every second of the documentary Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend. Messi is an absolute legend. I remember watching these games in 2022 so it's very very interesting to know what was going on behind the scenes, what the players were thinking and feeling, and other things. In the 2006 World Cup, he was just hoping he would get to play. Now he's the most decorated player in the history of the game.

This documentary follows Lionel Messi through the World Cup of 2022. The documentary shows his journey from when he was young to current time. It touches on his time at Barcelona, his previous World Cups, the challenges he had to overcome, his hopes and dreams for the 2022 World Cup, and finally the World Cup itself from the group stages all the way through the finals and how he feels and what he's thinking in between and throughout. The documentary does this across four episodes ranging from 44 minutes to 49 minutes in length titled "The Last Cup," "We Can Dream Again," "The Weight of a Nation," and "Redemption."

This is a feel-good documentary as we observe an inspiring man getting to accomplish his biggest dream. There's a wonderful beauty to that and this documentary is a beautiful depiction of it. Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend is really very well-made. It offers an intimate view into Lionel Messi's life. He speaks of Diego Maradonna, his soccer hero. Messi tells us that when he doesn't do well, he's very self-critical and explains how he feels guilty. The documentary includes interviews with Messi's teammates, his first coach and Argentina's coach, Lionel Sebasti´┐Żn Scaloni. It delves into what happened after the Saudi Arabia loss - 36 matches undefeated ended in the opening match. The Saudi Arabia win against Argentina came as one of the World Cup's greatest shocks. Roger Bennett says, "watching Lionel Messi walk off the field... It was agony. At this moment, he looked defeated." Everybody started attacking Messi after the World Cup loss to Saudi Arabia, saying he was overhyped and similar things. The documentary excels at comparing that incident to when Messi quit Argentina in 2016. When Messi did quit, everyone suddenly freaked out. People begged him to stay, to change his mind, there were even hash tags such as #LioDon'tLeave. Enzo Fernandez was 15 at the time and wrote a letter to Messi that ended up going viral. Six years later, Messi reverted his decision and Fernandez played alongside him in the World Cup. They won it together. The documentary is full of heart touching anecdotes like this. I truly had a smile on my face the entire time I watched it. I love seeing how Messi and his teammates celebrate after a goal - all smiles and jumping on each other. It's heartwarming how happy they look and how they support one another. Watching the team hang out together makes me smile as they sing, dance, chant, play card games and celebrate! This is all Messi's story. Throughout the documentary, you can tell he truly loves his children, his wife, his sport, his country, his team and his life. What a legend! Like Messi or not, you cannot deny that he is one of the greatest players of all time. This documentary helps us understand him, his journey, and his story. You can't say you're a soccer fan and not know the story of one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. Messi's teammates say that they all grew up watching him play. Emiliano Martinez says "We feel that we have to defend our hero." Fernandez says "The team always had the sense of wanting to win it for Leo." It felt like all of Argentina was watching, saying "We need to win because it's Messi's last one." This is an absolutely amazing documentary. I wish it had included interviews with the French team in the fourth episode, which would have given us a very interesting perspective. Argentina would have lost to France, 3-4, if not for Martinez's brilliant last-minute save.

The film's message is that you can't do it alone. The World Cup final is one of the best and most interesting matches I've ever seen. It was Messi's World Cup. But it was also Martinez's world cup. And Fernandez's world cup. Alvarez, Di Maria, De Paul, Scaloni, every other person on that team. It was Argentina's World Cup. Messi could never have done it without them. The documentary ends with Messi saying "I'm just a kid from Rosario who loves to play ball." That makes the documentary all the more inspiring. Messi says "If something is meant to happen to you, it will happen." That's another one of the messages. Messi worked really hard. This documentary shows that truly anyone can do it. Work hard enough, and you can achieve all your dreams. Don't give up. That's 100% true. But by Messi saying that, he acknowledges there's an aspect of luck to it as well.

I give Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults, but this is truly a must-watch for all fans of the sport. You can watch this documentary starting February 21, 2024 on AppleTV+.

By Alma K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend follows pro soccer player Lionel Messi's journey through obstacles and triumphs during the 2022 World Cup. Tasked with leading his team and acting as the face of Argentina, Messi must lead his teammates and country to victory.

This documentary series tells the story of all-star Messi's background throughout the episodes, often non-chronologically. However, at times this method doesn't work, and the story feels disjointed, underdeveloped and the flashbacks feel out of place. We undoubtedly root for Messi throughout the series, but only because the series urges us to cheer him on, not because we have fully gotten to know him. Also, the documentary's formula grows repetitive. We continuously witness Lionel and Argentina's performance during the World Cup, which becomes hard to watch. Messi never remains at a high or low because the series swiftly cycles between the media disliking him, him gaining back their support, and the media disliking him again. This trend is utilized so many times throughout the episodes that it's hard to cheer for a win when we know there is another devastating loss around the corner. Fortunately, Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend thrives from its frequent use of footage from Messi's games. As an audience, we truly get a sense of why Lionel Messi is regarded as one of the all time greats of soccer. He is fueled by his peers and country, which is quite inspiring. His collaboration with teammates and talent in the game is truly entertaining to watch. Viewing the way in which the Argentinean team bonds throughout their wins and losses is something very special to see.

There is no question that Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend has aspects that soccer fans and Lionel Messi fans will enjoy, but the series fails to include many additions that it would benefit from.

I give Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults. Catch the series when it releases on February 21, 2024 on Apple TV+.

By Daniel S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

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Messi's World Cup: The Rise of a Legend is a biographical documentary series produced in a collaboration between Apple TV+, Smuggler Entertainment and Pegsa Group. The series follows Lionel Messi's triumphant career, his overall impact on football and shows his journey of highs and lows with the Argentina national football team across five World Cups, culminating with his fairytale ending of winning the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
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