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Please distribute this URL as you see fit. By Ted Baldwin {short description of image}
The Perfect Storm "

It is The triumph of visual effects over nature is the reason ten million people saw this film in five days.

And just what you wanted, a light, airy review just fit for a 102 degree day in the deep south...
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Five possible. Sure. Why not. Icons are cheap, and there is nothing wrong with having a good time at the movies...
     I dreaded this film, from the look of the previews. Sappy, and pretentious, and undoubtedly romantically waterlogged. But I was wrong, and gladly so. This is an instant classic.

     The Perfect Storm is, in many ways the quintessential disaster pic. Like Jaws and Towering Inferno 25 years ago, TPS rides into theaters bringing jaw-dropping special effects and terror.

     Based on a true story - with which extensive liberties were taken, TPS lolls around for the first hour, building up the motive for six guys to risk their lives on a fishing trip in October. These commercial swordfishermen travel out into the Atlantic seeking the last big catch of the fall, because their first catch was skimpy. Then it gets going.

     Caught in the action too are huge ships which are having a desperate time in the storm, and a small sailboat that is on the verge of sinking. The last half of the film is a riot of wave and wind, as three storm fronts converge in a once-every-hundred-years event, and 100 foot waves - the tallest ever recorded from a storm, rocket across the ocean.

     For our sake, the storm is done a little above scale, because the screen tends to minimize the action, and aerial shots also diminish the enormity of ten story wipeouts. There are a lot of technical journals, such as American Cinematographer, which discuss this film in detail. Suffice it to say that the effects, by ILM, are on the crest of what is possible.

     Acting? Yeah there is that. Clooney is his same old self, which fits sea captains well. You like him or you don't. That's that.

     Michael Ironside's mean old self is on target.

     Mark Wahlberg is on the scene with a cadre of others that make it all work. But not for the storm, they would have nothing to do, and we'd have nothing to watch, so let's leave it at that.

     Redeeming grace? On the trailers there is a sappy moment when the weatherman leans into his computer monitor and intones ....dreadfully.... "it's a perfect storm". We see him say that. That is a spiteful moment so far as I am concerned. It is cliched and not handled well. Fine for grade B flicks, but I expect more from people at the caliber of this film.

     Well well well well. Guess what? When that moment came in the film, his intonation of "the perfect storm" monologue was begun on screen, but it became a voice-over lent to a darkening sky on the ocean with the swordboat going into the lightning. Very classy all of a sudden. To my standards. Excellent.
One-Fish, Two Fish. Humorous Side-bar
      Not too much going on here for me to poke fun at, cause it was way better than I expected, and I don't want to give anything away.

     No unacceptably cliched characters.

     Some phony tension, but not enough to harp on.

     The effects are discernible to the trained eye, and future standards may make this look bad by comparison, the way the original King Kong looks bad today, but for now it is great. You may notice some of the 3-d ocean spray they added to the storm waves does not look right - but then remember most of the storm shots are all 3-d. It is a forest for the trees thing.

     Even the evil boat owner that takes half of the money they make stands up to criticism (in a beautifully played part by Michael Ironside). Essentially he tells them that is the way the game is played, and that is that. They all sign on knowing what they are in store for, and that is true. Anyway, others made a lot of money fishing, so...

     The website made me think better of the film by showing me some of the images that contribute. Good site, lotsa stuff. They are starting to get it right.

     Just a technical note: All of the fish in the movie are rubber/latex/animatronic/etc., according to a report I heard on the radio. No live fish or dead fish or fish of any kind were used in the making of Perfect Storm. Just thought you should know, the next time you bite into a juicy swordfish steak!

     Ah well. Next.

     So go, enjoy the moment, and thank God you are safely tucked away in your warm little beds at night.

The website is good, with lots of fun stuff, screensavers, trailers, and pics.
Amusing, isn't it?

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