|THE PERFECT STORM (2000)|
John C. Reilly
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
|Time: 129 mins.|
Official Web Site
Academy Award nominations for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.
Since I did not read the book, nor know much about the story, except that it centered around fishermen and a really big storm, I was pretty excited by the trailers for THE PERFECT STORM. Good cast, amazing special effects, I wondered if it was going to be good or just TWISTER on the water. Though it's definitely better than TWISTER, I can't say I enjoyed it more. Mainly because THE PERFECT STORM had real potential to be better. TWISTER gave you exactly the experience you were looking for. This film fails to deliver. It's too trite, strident, predictable (I did not know the ending) and scattered. The dialogue, overall, was ridiculous. People don't speak this way. The relationships superficial and the character development virtually non-existent. Granted, this is a man against nature kind of tale, but I wanted to care more for these men and that just doesn't happen. Each gets one major scene to make them sentimental, but that's not enough. Of course, you want them to return and make it rich, that goes without saying. This is just another example of a director choosing to concentrate on the wrong part of the film the special effects.
Much like TWISTER, you are brought into the center of hell and it's a scary place indeed. No one can take that away from this film. The storm scenes are absolutely incredible. The waves you see are only the beginning and with every flash of lightning, you get a glimpse of something ever worse. It made my skin crawl. How these men ever imagined they could go up against this monster and win, is beyond me. Though that's men for you. There's not much of a plot to this film. Clooney plays a swordfish boat captain in the middle of a serious slump. If his next haul isn't the best of his career, he's going to be out of a job. Wanting to close the season on a high note, he takes his tired and lonely crew back out to sea only two days after returning from a long unproductive haul. The crew all have reasons to stay, but are drawn to the sea, the chance to make one more big score. They love to fish and can't ever say no to the opportunity.
Their families are appalled and unhappy, but don't put up much of a fight. They're fishermen and nothing they say will keep them on land. Besides they trust the captain and if he says they're going to find fish, they're going to find fish. While they're on the water going about the usual fisherman business catching fish, fighting with each other, saving the man overboard, becoming generally disgruntled the largest, most perfect storm ever, is brewing off the eastern seaboard. Since they are far to the east of the hurricane just north of Bermuda and the squall of the New England coast, they are fairly unworried. That is until the ice machine breaks. They are then forced to make a hard choice. Let the largest payload they have ever caught in their lives rot or try to barrel through the storm and make it back in time to bring the fish to market. Of course, they decide to tackle the storm. What they are completely unaware of, is that this is the "perfect" storm, one that will take a miracle to survive.
I don't want to spoil the ending for you, so let me just say that's it's pretty damn exciting. Unfortunately, it takes so long for you to get there, it's hard to care. It's not much of a surprise, but I still thought it was going to go a different way. One of the main reasons you don't get to know the fishermen as well as you should is because the film keeps cutting back and forth between their fight and several other Coast Guard rescues that happened during the storm. I know this is based on a true story and that if the Coast Guard did not have the other rescues to contend with the fate of the Andrea Gail might have been different. However, since you know even less about these characters, it's just a time waster. I didn't want them to die, but I didn't want to watch them being rescued either. These scenes really slowed the film down, besides bringing the focus away from the characters you want to see. I guess there's only so much fishing one can show before it gets boring for the audience, but maybe that's when the men could've been given some character development.
THE PERFECT STORM isn't a bad movie. Clooney and Wahlberg give decent performances, though not half as good as their previous collaboration in THREE KINGS. Of course, that film had a much better script. Clooney plays the craggy captain, Wahlberg the young fisherman torn between his love for the sea and the woman he left behind. Both are good enough to keep your attention, but that's about all. The rest of the cast does the best it can with the small, uninspired roles they've been given. The women, Diane Lane and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are way better then what they're given here, but use their talent to elevate fairly thankless roles. I'm just glad to see both of them working again. Maybe the exposure will help them get back on track and into more mainstream roles. Overall, this is a fun(?) summer movie diversion. The effects will keep you riveted to your seat and potentially make you think twice before sailing away across the deep blue sea. However, it doesn't exactly end on a happy note, so make sure to have upbeat plans when it's over.