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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.3%
Worth A Look37.5%
Average: 19.89%
Pretty Bad: 10.8%
Total Crap: 8.52%

9 reviews, 122 user ratings

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Perfect Storm, The
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by Erik Childress

"My Favorite Film of the Year?"
5 stars

Was I starved to see a great movie in the year 2000? Did I feel I was losing my instinct to just go to a movie and enjoy myself? Have I forgotten the last time I gave any movie the highest rating of four stars? Perhaps all three. Well, any doubts I had about myself or about the movies of the new century was quashed with my viewing of The Perfect Storm, a film which I believe to be one of the year’s best and probably my personal favorite.

The story is based on the Sebastian Junger novel about the real-life ordeal of the Andrea Gail fishing boat. This boat with a crew of six was caught in the “storm of the century” where essentially three separate storms collided to make the “monster.” It’s the kind of storm that makes meteorologists giddy and their guessing games null and void. The skipper of the boat is Billy Tyne (George Clooney), a divorcee who’s hit an unlucky streak on the water. When he comes back with yet another light load, his pride is hurt amongst all the other boat captains, but also feels that he may have let down his crew once again. So he sets out on one more mission to make amends. His crew consists of Bobby Shatford (Mark Wahlberg), who is trying to make a life with the prettiest girl in town, Christine Cotter (Diane Lane, who looks will always remain beautiful). Another divorcee, Dale “Murph” Murphy (John C. Reilly) has a son in town that he would like to see grow up. Then there’s Michael “Bugsy” Moran (John Hawkes), who despite being unlucky in love doesn’t hesitate to use the worst pick-up lines imaginable attempting to snag the big and feisty Irene (Rusty Schwimmer). His polar opposite is Alfred Pierre (Allen Payne), who always has a woman and isn’t shy about shaking the ceiling to the Crows Nest, the popular local bar where everyone hangs out. The sixth and final member is the gruff and confrontational David “Sully” Sullivan (William Fichtner) who is a last minute addition to the group and harbors some mysterious resentment towards Murph and vice versa.

It would be easy to dismiss these characters as mere props when the title star of the movie is a bunch of giant waves and fierce wind. But screenwriter Bill Wittliff gives us enough time (nearly a half an hour) before these six men set off on their expedition. We get a sense of their lives and the lives they want (most of them anyway) so we understand why they would decide to brave the weather on their trip back to Gloucester, Massachusetts. And that’s really all the character we need from each of them. I’ve heard recent comparisons to Jaws and how well developed Brody, Quint and Hooper were on their hunt for the giant shark. Well, that was a work of fiction. And it was a story (and script) plotted to the point where these men could talk a little more in-between the shark attacks. A true story such as The Perfect Storm doesn’t have such a luxury since it would be ill conceived to have the men start laughing and singing “Show Me the Way To Go Home” while their boat is falling apart. Allen Payne’s character gets kind of shortsighted and the history of Sully (himself) and his feud with Murph is less developed. But everyone else, including the women left back on shore, are interesting and I cared about them. And that’s due not only to the screenplay, but also on the strength of all the performances, most notably Clooney as the grizzled old seadog, who not only looks the part, but makes us feel that he might have actually lived it.

As the title indicates, the real star of this film is the storm itself. And is it ever a star. In the hands of a lesser director, the fury of the weather could have looked nothing more than like the stage tank its filmed on. Yet Wolfgang Petersen pulls it off it spades. This is a film that begs to be seen in a theater, on the big screen, with the best sound system available because the sound is unbelievable, putting you right in the middle of every scene. The final hour of this movie will have you spellbound in one long extended action sequence made up of numerous smaller ones, all equally exciting. Petersen parallels the Andrea Gail’s troubles with the build-up and eventual rescue attempt of a small yacht holding three people. The Coast Guard and its divers have their own problems with the efforts to save the family onboard as well as themselves. And no sooner is one of their issues escalating, that another is just beginning on the Andrea Gail. To describe in any more detail the events which lead the Andrea Gail to rifle headfirst through the storm would spoil many of the twists and turns the story has in store for its audience. Just to say that it’s first-class action filmmaking on a grand scale as this was one of the first films in a long time to actually have me worried on the edge of my seat.

As evident with the comparisons to Jaws and the man vs. the sea motif, The Perfect Storm has been taking some early hits for lackluster characterization or ho-hum melodrama. Now, there are two kinds of melodrama. Good and bad. Any true-life story is bound to have moments of melodrama to fill in the blanks in-between the facts. This was true of Apollo 13, Schindler’s List, and the granddaddy of all true-life melodrama, Titanic. The first hour and 45 minutes of that film was all melodrama until the awesome third act arrived with the iceberg. So why should The Perfect Storm be any different. It’s just as skillfully directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It’s just as exciting. And it’s just as realistic. If you’re going to attack a film based on its melodrama, how then can you fault it when it has an hour less of melodrama than a film that not only got many four star ratings across the board, but also won 11 Oscars including Best Picture of 1997?

Maybe it is a bad year. Maybe in another year like 1994, 1995 or 1998 this wouldn’t be a four-star film? But then maybe it would have. Coming up to the midpoint of the year, there are other films (that upon a second viewing) could warrant a four-star rating and rate higher on my year end top ten list. Films like Chicken Run, Erin Brockovich, High Fidelity and Wonder Boys are all in that class. But when a film as well made and entertaining as The Perfect Storm comes along, I revert back to that little kid seeing my first big-screen adventures. And yet the film rises above even that to monopolize all the filmgoing experiences I’ve had to recognize that its more than just a cheap thrill ride. The movie is not only about the daring voyage these men take through the waters, but also about man’s arrogance to believe that he can conquer nature. The crew of the Andrea Gail all agree to brave the storm to save their payload while the owner of the yacht refuses to ditch in an effort to save his precious boat. Nature is what happens while you’re making plans to save it. It’s also a tribute to the working class man, trying to weather the storm and keep on his feet and his family together. The Perfect Storm is incredibly absorbing and tremendously exciting and its one of my favorite, if not one of the best, of the year 2000.

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originally posted: 06/30/00 15:15:16
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell fairly exciting some good effects 3 stars
4/15/15 stanley welles the perfect bore 1 stars
8/27/09 Stonie After reading the book, twice, knew it would be a great film. And it was! 5 stars
2/29/08 Tammy Kennedy it was good, sad. I like movies based on true events 4 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega Wasn't my favorite in the genre, but still worth your time. 3 stars
1/24/07 Matt The storm is stunning, but overall the film is a damp squib. Disappointing. 3 stars
1/15/07 Gloria Dornin ok, i am afraid of water, this made me hyper, but wow, scary that it was true 5 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini a bit slow in places but still good 4 stars
6/03/06 MP Bartley Simplistic and po-faced script mar an otherwise gripping thriller. 4 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands Yawn. 3 stars
8/23/05 Quigley the CG is pretty amazing; that 100-foot wave was tight. not a real sea classic in the end. 4 stars
8/20/05 ES Why the hell didn't they head for Portugal and sell the fish there? = not recommended 3 stars
6/25/05 Mr Fluffy Very wet. Very windy. The Perfect Storm. Does what it says on the tin. 4 stars
6/22/05 Manu Ginobli Pahk da cah in hahbid yahd! 4 stars
6/08/05 Indrid Cold Fantastic dipiction of the fisherman's life. Too simplistic to be a classic though. 4 stars
11/09/04 Monster W. Kung The most annoying movie score ever? 3 stars
8/07/04 Anthony G marky mark cant act for shit 2 stars
6/21/04 876 It's Okay 3 stars
5/19/04 John really qiute good in the begining but atruly melodramatic and sappy ending spoils the fun 2 stars
5/13/04 qulqlan Totally captivating; really hits home. 5 stars
9/08/03 Kyle Pretty good until the ending really ruined the whole thing! 3 stars
8/03/03 Lia Did they have accents? I don't really care. I didn't notice. 3 stars
7/23/03 Flounder An excellent movie 5 stars
6/26/03 cochese I liked it, its not a masterpiece, but it worked. 4 stars
5/13/03 scottyrobotty fisherman trying to get a lot of money are heroes? we don't know what happened w/out radio 1 stars
4/22/03 Eloise Male bonding on a boat......and then they all die, The End. 1 stars
4/04/03 Jack Bourbon Sorry, sucked. NO MORE FAKE BOSTON ACCENTS, EVER!!! 2 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Characters & story at service of f/x. Clooney and Lane are wasted. 2 stars
3/17/03 Peter Clooney and Wahlberg still stuck in 1991. They both ROCK!!! 5 stars
1/11/03 R.W. Welch Watchable, but acting and script are nothing to write home about. 3 stars
1/11/03 Desperado Terrible. How do they know what happened if nobody lived to tell it. Come on. Ending sucked 1 stars
11/15/02 Stevo Sometimes silly but not at all bad really. 4 stars
11/06/02 Charles Tatum Melodramatic bilge with cool effects 2 stars
9/19/02 Spike I was really spellbound. I would watch this again. 5 stars
7/05/02 KMG Went to Gloucester, MA after the movie came out...Crow's Nest is across the street 4 stars
5/23/02 Carrie Kohl The fallacy of a "true story" that nobody lived to tell. 3 stars
4/01/02 Pascal Even the huge CG waves are boring 2 stars
12/10/01 Tam Forgettable and BORING! All the actors look as if they'd rather be somewhere else. 2 stars
12/01/01 Scottish Kilt predictable piece of pish, more glorious failure. 2 stars
11/23/01 Andrew Carden Long, Boring, Tiring, Unfunny, Badly Done, and Just Totally Dull Movie. 1 stars
11/19/01 Maurice. Entertaining by why would you pat the captian on the back just before you drown 4 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith Way to Go... Mr. Clooney! 5 stars
9/17/01 Rebecca Wahlberg they should have trimmed mark's hair and beard and luckily they showed his pecks. 3 stars
8/19/01 Dr. Thompson Clooney and Wahberg are hollywoods most romantic couple 3 stars
8/18/01 Trish Thrilling and heartbreaking, with awesome special effects 4 stars
8/06/01 Amy Hello people!! It rocked!! You can't change a true story!! 5 stars
7/28/01 Steve The way it ended made the entire second half totally pointless. Didn't like it at all. 1 stars
7/17/01 Elvisfan Not worth more than one viewing, if that..annoying script & actors dominate 1 stars
4/19/01 Tam A mediocre script and half-arsed acting undermine flawless special effects. 2 stars
4/05/01 Hawkeye Eight dollars worth of water, and it doesn't even look real. Characterization? Forget it. 1 stars
3/16/01 Terrie Smith Leave out the special effects and the film is very predictable. Rather disappointing. 3 stars
3/09/01 Helen What the hell is so "good" about a ship going up a big wave over and over again?? 1 stars
2/24/01 the dodo not too bad but... 5 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Should've been called "The Perfect Snore"..oh, wait...that was the "Mad" magazine parody. 2 stars
2/01/01 Dan Waldman May have worked as a documentary. As a drama, it sank. 2 stars
1/23/01 Bruce I loved this movie, I really thought it was excellent 5 stars
1/20/01 Ground Zero much better than Twister and Deep Impact 5 stars
1/17/01 The Terminator Wolfgang Petersen is a very underrated director 5 stars
1/14/01 Invader Slow boring shite with a weak performance by Cloony, despite his looks. 2 stars
1/13/01 Jake Exceeded my expectations, one of the best action movies of the year 5 stars
1/11/01 Matt69 O.K., but a major let down. Movie was all special effects. 3 stars
1/04/01 Msitrab One of yhe best of 2000 5 stars
12/31/00 kevin THis movie was unrealistic and fake. The fish looked like ham bones. D 2 stars
12/21/00 Connoisseur thw orst movie I've seen this year 1 stars
12/10/00 T.Smith Markey Mark is a pud wack. Are him and Clooney dating or what? 2 stars
11/29/00 Monday Morning Nice departure from action films that depend on guns, karate and car chases. 4 stars
11/23/00 Rachel Dershem This is a terrific movie. George was wonderful as Billy Tyne, all the actors did a great j 5 stars
11/19/00 The Bomb 69 one of the year's best, actually had no interest in seeing it exceeded my expectations 5 stars
11/17/00 Trina not to bad of a movie although the ending sucks 3 stars
10/24/00 JC23 An action movie that is actually good 5 stars
10/18/00 dan good until the stupid ending! 4 stars
10/01/00 Tom Budgen The best film i have ever seen, the effects are spell-binding, 10 out of 10 movie! 5 stars
9/22/00 White Rabbit Wow! What a ride!! 5 stars
9/10/00 the acting sucked good special efects 4 stars
8/24/00 David Seah There's no goodbye, there's only SUCK! 1 stars
8/09/00 Bueller Cut-aways to sub-sub-sub-plots were distracting, but otherwise, a good movie. Great score. 4 stars
8/09/00 Matthew Bartley It's hard to take seriously a film that has the word fish in it so many times.But it rocks! 5 stars
8/08/00 Viking Ignore the story and enjoy the visual effects !!! 4 stars
8/05/00 Bruce Takes a while to get going, after that it is an edge of your seat movie 5 stars
8/05/00 Hulahula Pick a different flick! If you're an actor aren't you supposed to be able to act? 2 stars
8/01/00 Doglantern s'ok. Probably good if you are an ex-coasty or something 4 stars
7/31/00 Stephen Booth Probably the second worst film this year 1 stars
7/31/00 Overflow Bitch Not great, not bad.... More emotion than most give credit for. Diane Lane was great. 4 stars
7/29/00 John Thorne Plenty of Action 4 stars
7/29/00 js Movie was a terrible bore. None of the characters has any depth (sic).Phony looking models 2 stars
7/29/00 Dave George Pretty fucking sweet 4 stars
7/26/00 Beau God bless the U.S. Coast Guard! 5 stars
7/26/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble It would've been better if Mark had filmed his scenes in his underwear. 3 stars
7/26/00 Melvin wonderful action drama 5 stars
7/23/00 Michael Stoner I liked the effects but Cloony and Walberg's acting didnt get my attention 3 stars
7/22/00 Megan This movie was absolutely unbelievable! 5 stars
7/20/00 malcolm kinda depressing, very good in spite of horrible picture quality at the drive in 4 stars
7/16/00 Well done for a complicated story; the p-js/sailboat rescue deserves its own movie 5 stars
7/12/00 Mantik0re Better than a swift kick in the ass. 4 stars
7/10/00 Andrew J. Good flick, but the subplot with the other boat and the Coast Guard was useless. 3 stars
7/10/00 Marc Special F/X are spectacular. Keeps you on the edge of your seat. 4 stars
7/09/00 Daria Great waves, pity about the characters 3 stars
7/08/00 Matt Anybody that gives away the ending of this one should be shot... 5 stars
7/07/00 Pierce Lanson White knuckle stuff, great characters, best special effects, REAL-I know!! 5 stars
7/07/00 TOM GREEN It sucked 1 stars
7/07/00 DatherFrawdad please god, let x-men be good.. or atleast have lots of boobies 3 stars
7/07/00 That Guy Supplemented good story, with lots of made up shit, some sorry acting. 4 stars
7/07/00 JC An exciting, edge of your seat film 5 stars
7/06/00 PJ great summer flick exciting as all hell 5 stars
7/06/00 koHawk Really feeling like you are along for the ride is great, unlike U571 4 stars
7/06/00 Alyssa Well crafted movie. You knew that they were going to die, but pulled for them anyway. 5 stars
7/04/00 *yeah baby* People's reviews here piss me off;peopleDOdie calmly when they drown shithead;great flick! 5 stars
7/04/00 William Bartlett good effects... some poor acting 4 stars
7/04/00 cosmic_j horrible dialogue, bad acting, poor story, and all around perfect piece of crap! 1 stars
7/04/00 John Walstad An intense experience 5 stars
7/03/00 Sean Horan Noisy movie--no theme, over dependent on CGI, and there's almost no dialogue. HBS this one. 2 stars
7/03/00 Diva Divine It was so good, it was awful! Only, I used to be a lifeguard and people don't drown calmly 4 stars
7/03/00 Captain Highcrime She's a hell of a boat, with a hell of a crew, with a hell of a lot of shitty dialogue. 3 stars
7/02/00 bornslippy A perfect boredom, very disappointing 2 stars
7/02/00 PJ This was an exciting good time summer movie, pure entertainment. 4 stars
7/02/00 "Persnickety" it was way too over hyped, but none the less it was a good flick 5 stars
7/02/00 Curt Great movie 5 stars
7/01/00 Politicsman Hollywood finally got the special effects disaster movie right! Great review Erik. 4 stars
7/01/00 Jokko Great specials. But Erik's overlooked the painfully shitty dialogue & lame characters. 2 stars
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  29-Jun-2000 (M)

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