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The Perfect Storm

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Perfect Storm

Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Rated: PG
RunTime: 129 Minutes
Release Date: June 2000
Genres: Action, Drama

*Also starring: Cherry Jones, Bob Gunton, Christopher McDonald, Josh Hopkins, Michael Ironside, Karen Allen, Diane Lane, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Review by John Beachem
2 stars out of 4

In the Fall of 1991, the Andrea Gail left Gloucester, Mass. and headed for the fishing grounds of the North Atlantic. Two weeks later, an event took place that had never occurred in recorded history. That's the tagline for Wolfgang Petersen's ("Air Force One") "The Perfect Storm", and it pretty well sums up the film's entire plot. All we really have are George Clooney playing the Captain of the Andrea Gail, Billy Tyne; and Mark Whalberg ("Three Kings") playing his second in command, Billy Shatford, sitting on a boat getting tossed around by a hurricane. This is generally all that happens throughout the film. Oh sure, there's a little side story about a coast guard crew and a family trapped on a sail boat, and we get the occasional glimpses of the crew of the Andrea Gail's families back home. Yet all the movie really involves is watching six men stumble around on the deck of a small fishing ship. When I first heard about this film I thought that sounded like a ten minute movie stretched out to no more than an hour and a half, right? Wrong, Petersen and Wittliff ("Legends of the Fall") manage to drag this bloody movie out for more than two excruciating hours!

I'll grant it, "The Perfect Storm" does succeed admirably on one level. It tests your abilities to both sustain disbelief and endure sappy melodrama like few films have before. As for the suspension of disbelief, that I could handle (afterall, I watched "Battlefield: Earth", now nothing can compare). This is despite the fact that we are required to believe a man could climb up the side of a ship while in the middle of the worst hurricane in recorded history. Now I'll admit, I don't know much about boats. In fact I despise the things and wild horses couldn't drag me onto one. However, I'm pretty sure when the wind is strong enough to make waves two to three hundred feet high it's going to knock you around a bit more than it does the Andrea Gail's crew. As for enduring the sappy melodrama, that I couldn't do. I'm sure when this really happened emotions ran high for some time both during and after the event, but I doubt people were running around screaming cheesy speeches while VERY dramatic music constantly played around them. Of course I could be wrong.

I can forgive a lot in a bad movie if the acting is exceptional, but it's certainly sub-par in "The Perfect Storm". George Clooney doesn't even act like George Clooney (like he usually does). He acts like a man doing a bad impersonation of George Clooney. As though his regular acting wasn't bad enough, just wait till you see him get mad. I've never actually seen him act really angry in a movie before, and now I see why he's never been asked to; it's hilarious. Mark Whalberg, who "acted" alongside Clooney in the equally terrible "Three Kings" last year, seems to have improved some since then, but given some of the horrifying dialogue he's given it's sometimes hard to tell. The rest of the cast amounts to little more than cameos. We get the always good Michael Ironside ("Total Recall") as Clooney's evil, money grubbing boss (is there another kind in Hollywood?); and the usually adequate Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio ("The Abyss") as Clooney's love interest of sorts. The only other person worth noting is William Fichtner ("Drowning Mona"), that poor man's Christopher Walken himself, as the crew's requisite slacker who redeems himself at some point in the story.

So, you're probably asking yourself, is there anything good about this movie? Sure, the special effects are quite good. Anything else? I'm afraid not. Fear not, because there's plenty more that's so laughably bad you might almost enjoy the film as a result. The dialogue is so painfully bad I actually covered my ears at one point. We get lines like: "One more trip out there and the Andrea Gail will own you! Like it owns Billy Tyne!". Ouch, or how about: "Fish will gather again for the Andrea Gail." If this was a parody that would actually be funny. I'm not sure who should be blamed for the film's overly dramatic score, James Horner for composing it or Wolfgang Petersen for using it in every scene, dramatic or not. I think certain scenes near the film's beginning were intended to show how joyous and fun fishing for a living can be. If that was the intent it failed, because fishing for a living still looks dull and monotonous, just like the film. I'd recommend "The Perfect Storm" to those with nautical minds, because they'll probably get something more out of it than I did, and to those who for some reason enjoy heart tugging, sentimental movies. I give the movie two out of five stars. Oh, and did I mention the special effects? They're ever so impressive.

Copyright 2000 John Beachem

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