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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 Wacoshade

"Knocks your block off, but lacks heart."
4 stars

Damn, those waves are big!

There's my review.

Now, Scram!

Ok, not quite.

In The Perfect Storm, Wolfgang Peterson brings us the real-life 1991 story of a swordfish captain and crew who end up caught in one of the most severe storms the North Atlantic has seen in decades. Based on the bestselling journalistic recounting of the swordfish boat Andrea Gail's journey by -Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm is mostly mesmerizing, with staggering special effects from ILM, a reasonable (albeit occasionally over the top) score by James Horner, and fairly decent acting (with one exception mentioned in the next paragraph). It stars George Clooney as the ship's captain, with Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, William Fichtner as some of the crew, and Diane Lane as Wahlberg's love interest. The movie engages you in its characters, then manhandles you with its effects, but you may leave the theater wanting more.

The movie begins superbly, but, once the waves pick up, what else is there other than fabulous effects? A half-assed attempt at tear-jerking from Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Queen Miscast of Hollywood ever since Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves), some EXTREMELY cornball disaster cliché dialogue, a fascinating yet distracting rescue subplot, and George Clooney making serious faces…

So far, this is the "could've been" movie of the summer. Could've been a main Oscar contender for Best Picture, Director and even Actor (and may still be for effects, editing, sound, etc.), could've been the money making block buster of the year (although it's certainly pulled in an acceptable wad), could've been one of the best movies of the year or the past few years, could've been a movie filmgoers would talk about for years to come. Why don't I think it's quite any of these?

None of your damn business!

Just kidding. I'll tell you… For two dollars.

KID-ding! Let's relate it for a moment to another doomed ocean voyage flick with massive special effects, Titanic. Yeah okay, that one is a gag-fest, but even so… What made Titanic a huge winner, both with the box office and with the various annual awards?

Thousands of pubescent Leonardo fans?


But really, there's more to Titanic than handsome leads goo-gooing over each other. As hammy and over the top as the romance between the DiCaprio and Winslet gets, their characters are fairly sharply defined and somewhat interesting. Titanic may be about the doomed voyage, but the movie is a really a romantic plot of young love, and the sinking of the ship is not the paramount point of the plot, but simply an experience this couple goes through. Hey, we all know the ship sank already, but the plot manages to create rich characters and then invite viewers to emotionally invest in the characters. When the ship was sinking, you knew that a majority of people on the boat would die, but you still could engender a hope that there would be a way out of it, certainly for the leads. While I don't consider Titanic a masterpiece nor one of my 20 favorite films, it is certainly a relatively good movie and worthy of some discussion.

Why doesn't The Perfect Storm quite live up to Titanic in my eyes? Aside from the romance between Wahlberg and Lane's characters, there is almost no texture to the people in the story after the movie reaches the halfway point. The movie changes from a story about fishermen into a story about a storm.

Now, Wolfgang Peterson is a senior action director to be respected. Hell, this guy gave us Das Boot, a submarine movie made 20 years ago that is a masterpiece in developing a complex ensemble of richly textured characters amid a setting that is both action and drama. In that movie, you are emotionally involved in the characters until the end of the movie, and you feel the claustrophobic nature of the sub and the terrifying boredom of the characters as if you were personally involved in these characters. Jonathan Mostow and Tony Scott only wish they could've made a submarine movie as half as good as this.

In The Perfect Storm, however, once the plot and weather got rough, I just didn't feel that Peterson did the same with these characters. The movie does begin favorably. Aside from the one black guy in the movie (who is completely flat and is there simply because there was one on the real life ship), every character begins strong and has some substantial aspect for us to become emotionally involved in, be it the economic hardship and desperation of Clooney's ship captain, the "always on hold" romance between Wahlberg and Lane, the broken family of Reilly, the klutzy puppy-dog friendliness of John Hawkes. Even the last minute crew addition of the moody loner played by Fichtner is interesting, especially in relation to the existing hostility between he and Reilly. These things are outlined, but once the boat starts tossing, all the characters seem to be disaster fodder, existing merely because someone has to die.

Although you see shades of a possible great performance from him, Clooney plays his role fairly one-sided as determined and anxious; a little more depth could've been better given the fact that the captain has two loving daughters that are barely mentioned (I think you have an Academy worthy performance in you somewhere, George, but you missed it here). Reilly hardly mentions his family later in the film, although we see them waiting anxiously a couple of times. The hostility between Reilly and Fichtner is interesting but never really explored and resolved a little hastily. Only with Walhberg and Lane's characters do you really feel a sense of loss by the movie's end, and even that is almost ruined by the most hokey conclusion possible. But, the way the film is constructed, characters don't really matter much in that last half of the movie.

And, then there's the rescue helicopter subplot. Extremely nail biting (including an extremely tense attempt at refueling a helicopter in mid-air), and there's no character development there at all, but there is an indirect connection between them and the crew of the Andrea Gail. It manages to distract me somewhat from the struggles of our main characters and is certainly as fascinating a part of the movie as the struggles of Clooney and crew; and in some sense, that's not a good thing for the overall story.

But, the effects are spellbinding and second to none. This movie definitely gives us something very few people have likely ever seen and survived, and you will be struck dumb in your seat for the last hour of the movie. The ocean is a watery vision of hell, with flames of salt water and demons of wind and lightning. When the crew struggles against the ocean and fights to stay alive, the action is breath-taking, and the direction during the storm may indeed be flawless. If you aren't on the edge of your seat when Clooney climbs onto a wildly flailing anchor crossbeam with an acetylene torch in his hand, it's time for you to phone home, 'cause you ain't human, and I'll happily rat you out to the Cigarette Smoking Man. This is a good movie, and worth seeing at a matinee price, but it could've been so much better.

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originally posted: 07/26/00 09:45:40
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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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