DOES “PERFECT STORM” HAVE CHARACTER?

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly), Michael Wilmington (Chicago Tribune), Chuck Rudolph (Matinee Magazine), “Roger Ebert and the Movies” (Buena Vista TV), “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore” (FX Channel), Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times), Ron Wells (filmthreat.com), Rob Blackwelder (splicedonline.com), Kevin Maynard (mrshowbiz.com) and Lou Lumenick (New York Post).
* * * * (out of 4 stars) (PG-13)
“The Perfect Storm” made me realize I never ever want to be a deep-sea fisherman nor be a member of any Coast Guard rescue team. But I will cast out my net and snag a few movie critics and rescue “The Perfect Storm” from imperfect reviews.
The movie is based on a true story about a group of six unlucky fishermen. Commanded by Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney), they set out to sea from Gloucester, Massachusetts on a fishing trawler called Andrea Gail to hunt for swordfish. Their luck sinks completely when three storms collide at sea and their boat battles the worst storm in recorded history.
Owen Gleiberman (Entertainment Weekly) said, “.there is one grandly looming, nearly vertical wave, which picks up the boat as if it were a bathtub toy. It’s a beautiful moment of self-contained terror, yet it never quite convinces you that the storm you’ve been watching is alive.” Owen must have gotten salt water in his eyes. This wave was no toy nor did the special effects make it appear that way. You really feel the terror and the helplessness of this situation.
Michael Wilmington (Chicago Tribune) got it right: “.we’re privy to the kind of sights almost no one else has seen and survived – all re-created, of course. But it’s none the less terrifying.”
The special effects created a realistic storm of this magnitude and most critics were pleased. But some claimed the story’s character development needed rescue. Chuck Rudolph (Matinee Magazine) said, “Even recent B-movie genre trash like ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ worked much harder at portraying characters and their relationships with one another.”
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHUCK! You obviously fell asleep during the first 60 minutes of this film, which did lay a foundation for these characters. The two TV critic shows – “Roger Ebert and the Movies” (Buena Vista TV) and “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore” (FX Channel) had opposing views.
Roger Ebert liked the film, but he comments on his show (July 1, 2000), “The more the characters are sketched in, though, the less the movie is effective because in movies of this sort it’s really the storm.that is the subject..”
I can understand the storm being a major part of the movie. But if you don’t get to know the characters, you won’t appreciate the storm or the story. Most action films often get criticized because of skeleton characters. This is one big action film that breaks all the rules, Roger. Even Ebert’s guest critic, Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) fired back, “I liked the movie more than you did because I thought the characters were well sketched.”
“The Perfect Storm” was Gore’s “Pick of The Week” on his TV show (July 6, 2000) and he goes all out calling it the best film of the summer so far: “What makes this film work so well,” said Gore, “is the time spent getting to know these fishermen. They’re proud men with families and a passion for the sea.” Bingo! Had we just thrown these poor scruffy actors in the water without any history, we may have had the perfect film making disaster in history.
“The Perfect Storm” includes a terrifying sub-plot involving a Coast Guard boat and helicopter. Ron Wells (filmthreat.com) said, “I don’t want to give away the ending, but a more satisfying conclusion would have had the film focused on the Coast Guard team.” I disagree. The film was a true story based on the six fishermen. The Coast Guard segments were powerful and added to the fierceness of this storm, but we had no time to develop these characters.
Rob Blackwelder (splicedonline.com) criticized a popular line shouted by Billy’s friendly rival captain, Linda (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio): “I’m sorry, but there’s just no excuse for lines like ‘You’re headed right toward the middle of the monster!'” Lighten up, Rob! I thought the line was appropriate and powerful. And let’s not forget the joke potential it will provide for many comedians.
Kevin Maynard (mrshowbiz.com) said, “Under the weight of its own high-mindedness, ‘The Perfect Storm’ goes down with all hands.” Sorry, Maynard. This movie was good stuff and goes up with all thumbs!
Lou Lumenick (New York Post) summed the movie up best: “THIS is one perfectly terrifying movie, an instant classic.”
When you finally see the fishing boat head “toward the middle of the monster” and you see the Coast Guard risk their lives combating intense wind, water and waves – you know history was being made.
This was, indeed, the perfect storm.
–CRITIC DOCTOR




Posted on July 13, 2000 in News by
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