Directed by Thomas Carter, starring Samuel L Jackson, Rob Brown, Robert Ri'chard, Rick Gonzalez, Nana Gbewonyo, Antwon Tanner, Channing Tatum, Ashanti and Texas Battle.

Based on a true story, 'Coach Carter' is a sentimental and slightly directionless meander through the lives of a group of basketball players struggling to overcome the odds.

In 1999 Ken Carter (Jackson) made a controversial decision that was to attract media coverage across the US. By benching his basketball team at Richmond High, at the height of their winning streak, Coach Carter took away the only thing that many of the players had strived for: a chance to glimpse victory (and if that sounds like cheese melted down into a movie, then you'd be right on the mark).

What set Coach Carter apart from his peers in the world of sports training was his insistence that his players should achieve academically as well as on the court, a mindset that made him unpopular with both the students and their parents in the troubled neighbourhood where he chose to intervene (the exception in this instance being the token smart kid, who happens to be his son Damien, played by Robert Ri'chard).

So when his group of unlikely heroes fail to knuckle down to their school work and keep the contract he agreed with them at the start of his coaching term, Carter makes a drastic decision to bench them until each of the players' grades improve. Little did he think that the nation would soon be up in arms about his controversial methods.

If you think you've seen this more than once before then you'd be right. Think 'Dangerous Minds', 'Dead Poets Society' and so on, only not as good. You can see how the original story had the potential to inspire a movie, but there's just not enough in this script to sustain the film and you end up willing it to a close quite early on. Even the fact that the great Samuel L Jackson is, as ever, a giant among peers is not enough to recommend this.

Jam-packed with clichés, 'Coach Carter' offers nothing innovative to the movie-goer, traipsing out an old formula to little effect.

Linda McGee