Also reviewed: Titan AE Also recommended

From the August 2000
Film Review

Film Review Hotline
4 Stars; Recommended

Georg Clooney and Mark Wahlberg interviewed in this issue

STARS: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, Karen Allen, Bob Gunton
DIRECTOR: Wolfgang Petersen
SCREENPLAY: William D Witliff from the book by Sebastian Junger
CERTIFICATE: 12 TBC DISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright: Warner Bros

Making a big splash: the Andrea Gail faces the storm
Say hello, wave goodbye

Based on Sebastian Junger’s best-selling book, The Perfect Storm could be the film that finally brings George Clooney the top-flight movie stardom he’s been seeking.

Although he walked away with critical acclaim for both Out of Sight and Three Kings, neither were box-office blockbusters – The Perfect Storm could change that record, especially coming out at the height of summer movie madness – although this is far from what is considered as a ‘perfect’ summer flick, which usually consists of comedies and blockbusters with an expected end. No, this is something a little different.

Clooney portrays a Massachusetts, fisherman named Billy Tyne. As the skipper of the swordfishing boat the Andrea Gail, he has had a run of disappointing catches, and decides to go out one last time before the season ends. Joining him for what will become a catastrophic voyage are Bobby Shatford (Wahlberg), a divorced lawyer who needs a bundle of money in order to start a new life with his girlfriend, Christine (Lane); Dale Murphy (Reilly), an experienced fisherman with an ex-wife and child to support; Alfred Pierre, a free-spirited Jamaican; Bugsy, a local who longs to have someone in Gloucester to return to; and Sully, who continually clashes with Murphy. Amazingly, all these characters are based on real individuals.

The movie takes an inordinate amount of time to establish the fishermen on the Andrea Gail and their personal relationships. The slow pace nevertheless pays off in the end when the audience can clearly understand the men’s motives as they choose to face the storm instead of riding it out. However, most other characters in the movie, the search and rescue team and three people on a private yacht, are sketchily drawn in a secondary storyline that doesn’t quite hold the emotional impact of the main scenario.

The special effects, from Industrial Light and Magic’s Stefen Fangmeier and John Frazier, both of whom worked on Twister, are utterly spectacular and brilliantly bring the fury of the storm to life, to a point where, as with the titular tornado in that previous hit, it becomes almost a character in its own right. As the true story of the Andrea Gail unfolds, and its crew weather (sorry) the storm of the century, the audience is bodily thrown into the middle of the heart-stopping hurricane, rooting for the motley group of fishermen until the very end. It’s an end which is likely to leave the viewer feeling emotionally exhausted, though not entirely satisfied, given what has gone before.

Despite this, The Perfect Storm is a bold, exciting film, which attempts to bring a little more depth to the blockbuster disaster genre. For that alone it deserves to be applauded.

Judy Sloane

Read our massive reviews section in this month's Film Review
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction.

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Also reviewed online this month:
4 Stars
TITAN AE • released July 28


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Chicken Run • June 30
American Movie July 7
Breathless (A Bout de Souffle) • July 7
Love and Basketball • July 7

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July 21 • Shaft
July 21 • Pitch Black
July 21
High Fidelity
July 21 • The Emperor and the Assassin