Perfect Storm: Collector's Edition
Man striving against the onslaught of nature has been a favorite theme form ancient literature right down to modern film. There is something that is stirred in us to watch mere mortals engaged in a fight for their lives against the unstoppable forces of nature. The latest entry into this genre film is the Perfect Storm. Based on a true story (in other words they took some facts and added to it) about a captain (George Clooney) of a fishing boat that is on a bad streak. He is barely bringing in enough fish each trip to pay for expenses. Setting out for one last big score he takes a rag-tag crew of five men to sea. They have to go out further than normal to get their load of fish and have to hurry back when the ice machine breaks down on the ship and limits how long the catch will stay fresh enough to sell. There is a big storm brewing but the men decide to push ahead anyway. What they didnt realize is the storm was a meeting point of three storms. There was a hurricane from the south, a norEaster and another storm from Canada. When the three meet they form a perfect storm, one of such proportions that nothing can stand in its wake. There are some side plots such as the economics of a fishing town, a sailboat in the hurricane and one of the crew and his young wife but the personalities of the characters take a back seat to the drama, action and special effects.
The acting is good as far as it is permitted to go. Clooney is a long way from the E.R. as the captain of this little, doomed craft (I keep hearing the words the little ship was tossed as I watched). He plays the captain as a man driven to prove his own worth. A woman captain (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) who is just barely his romantic interest constantly outdoes him. The break out performance is a tie between two alumni from Boogie Nights, Mark Wahlberg as the rookie fisherman and the older salt John C. Reilly. The contrast between the two men helps the audience to make an emotional connection with the characters but still fails to fully develop them. There are some notable smaller roles including Karen Allen as one of the sailboat passengers, Diane Lane as the young wife to Wahlbergs character and Rusty Schwimmer as a regular to the local bar that starts a relationship with one of the crew. Usually movies that fail to develop the characters also fails but the story and action are enough to drive this film successfully.
The director knows his way around sea-faring films. Wolfgang Petersen is best know for his submarine classic Das Boot. He is a director of a wide variety of talents shown is his other films that include Enemy Mine, Outbreak, and Air Force One. Here, as noted above, his sacrifices character development for action. In Dos Boot he managed both but then again that film was almost three hours long. Here he rarely even bothers with dialogue. Much of it is drowned out by the storm anyway. He just creates a set of characters and places them in danger. The rest is up to how well he can move along the action, constantly keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
The disc is simply put, fantastic. The audio is 5.1 Dolby and the gain is not set so loud that you have to turn everything down on your amp. The rear channels and sub woofer get a real workout during the later half of the film when the storm effects start up. Up might find yourself sea sick, its so realistic. The anamorphic 2.35:1 video is perfectly clear and completely free of any compression defect. There are three commentary tracks, that cover every little detail of production. There are also DVDROM features that take you behind the scenes. This is a well done film that is not particularly heavy in the way of how deep the meaning is or the characters are presented but it is a roller coaster ride that you will enjoy watching time and time again.