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Yes I know. I've heard all the complaints already. "That's not how it
happened" (as if anybody really knows); "All of those events could not
have co-occurred on the same boat in the same trip" (as if anybody
really knows); etc. etc. Well, here's my answer - it's a movie, just a
movie. Don't see a movie to learn about "what really happened" unless
the film states very clearly that it is a documentary. Films are, like
good books, supposed to tell you something true about people, about
things that happen, and about life. They're not (even when they're
placed in the documentary shoebox) necessarily about what really
happened and how.
The Perfect Storm is a heavily fictionalized speculation concerning the experience of the Andrea Gayle and its crew during the 'storm of the century' in the early nineties. George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg head a fine, under-appreciated cast, as regular yankee fishermen, their friends, and family, living in the Massachussetts town of Gloucester (pronounced "Glosta" for those of you from away). Billy Tyne (Clooney) is a once legendary long-line (swordfish) captain who is down on his luck and needs a big catch to bring himself back into the fold. He and his crew set out to find that catch on exactly the wrong day, in exactly the wrong place. The second half of the film is their attempt to get home, and also incorporates Coast Guard rescue action scattered all around the Atlantic during the massive storm.
Having lived in Maine for years, and having gotten myself thoroughly immersed in the ballads of Ruth Moore and the amazing New England Maritime culture, I have to admit that I was predisposed to like this film, despite all of the issues my fellow reviewers have harped on. And no, I haven't read the book, nor do I intend to. Still, in an attempt to be somewhat objective, I gave it an 8 and I'll give it an above average recommendation, but I will also say that my inclination was to give it an 9 or a 10.
This film mixes New England fishery and sailor lore, a few scattered facts about the Andrea Gayle Story, and a lot of dramatic license, to tell a story about the heroism of the average American and their families. It is also an homage to the the New England fishing industry and its traditions. Though it is easy to mistake the real life heroes (the Coast Guard operatives who saved so many lives during that storm) for the heroes of the film, the crew of the Andrea Gayle and their loved ones are the real heroes here - in their valiant efforts to save themselves, their boat, and their catch.
The performances and the script are strong and the characters very well realized (though fictionalized). Wahlberg and Clooney are great. Clooney gives the best performance I have seen him give. Some of the smaller parts deserve special mention - Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Ironside, Diane Lane and John C. Reilly are always very good (or better), but I was unexpectedly charmed by John Hawkes, William Fichtner and Janet Wright.
It is impossible to discuss this film without talking about the amazing special effects. To summarize, the first time I saw The Perfect Storm, I actually had difficulty sleeping because I felt the bed rocking to the rhythm of imaginary waves each time my eyes closed. Had I seen it in a theater, I am convinced that I would have considered popping a dramamine. Although at times exaggerated, this is the best film re-creation of sea storms I have ever seen. Every scene is thoroughly believable and marvelously detailed, even down to the weird patchiness of an incoming torrent often called "the calm before the storm".
Obviously, I liked this film. And I will give it a strong recommendation with a couple of caveats. First - if you're not somebody who appreciates New England culture and understands something of the kind of humble heroism "Glosta Men" (and women) are expected to have, you might not get it completely. Second - if you come to this looking for a story that rings true in the sense of objective history, you have come to the wrong place. Otherwise, sit back with some popcorn and somebody you love, and enjoy the ride.
Having survived (barely, on land) the "No Name Storm" of 1991 on the coast of New England, I assure you this was a true story (I'm mentioning this for the New Zealand poster who said it was adapted from a novel and others who may not realize it really was a *true* story). Obviously, we can't know what was actually said or done once the Andrea Gail lost radio contact (and isn't that true of any movie based on "historical fact" - we can only surmise the actual dialog and conversations that may have taken place). However, the characters were based on the actual crew members and the Coast Guard did have to ditch one helicopter during the storm - from a story I read in People magazine, I'd say the portrayal of the Coast Guard's actions were accurate. I can't say I liked this movie - perhaps remembering the terror of that night (I lived in a seaside town and the ocean had come over the seawall and was filling up streets 3 and 4 blocks in from the beach) makes it difficult for me to watch this movie as entertainment. In answer to one post here, Clooney said that the Boston accent is one of the most difficult and he didn't even want to attempt it - Markie Mark is from Boston so it wasn't a stretch for him. The special effects are phenomenal of course...I just wish it had a different ending. By the way, the statue of the fisherman at the ship wheel shown at the beginning of the movie is an actual Gloucester landmark (and you can see it on Gorton frozen seafood products which come from Gloucester) - the legend on the base of the monument says, "Those that go down to the sea in ships..."
I was struck by the documentary quality of this film, and couldn't help but look back to an earlier Peterson film, Das Boot, where we got up close and intimate with all the crew of the submarine--where they slept, went to the washroom, their soaking wet clothes, the damp, the stink of unwashed clothes, the claustrophobia on board. I had absolutely no trouble believing that Mark Wahlberg and Clooney were fishermen, trying to earn a hardscrabble living against a tough and unforgiving sea. The movie even starts slowly, giving the viewers insights into their lives at home, why they fish, and why they make the decisions later on in the movie. Then the film starts to slowly build the tension as the storm builds in strength. The special effects were absolutely believable, and Peterson piles on the tension even while breaking it up by adding a parallel rescue at the same time as the Andrea Gail begins to run into trouble. An excellent summer thriller that is a real roller coaster ride--literally and figuratively--on water.
It is inescapable fact that it is very difficult to take real-life events
and translate them into an interesting and thrilling movie. Ron Howard
perfected the art with "Apollo 13" and now Wolfgang Petersen continues on
with "The Perfect Storm".
This story of Gloucester, MA. fishermen who go out for one last try at a big payoff in a slumping season packs quite a wollup once they get caught up in an event that had never before been recorded: the perfect storm. From there, you have to suspend belief just a bit and drink in the events occurring aboard the Andrea Gail. It's not tough, as the cast delivers them perfectly.
George Clooney may have played his signature role as Capt. Billy Tyne, skipper of the ill-fated Andrea Gail on that fateful day in 1991. Clooney comes off as neither overly glamorous, or bigger than life, but as a simple common man just trying to break his fishing slump and bring home a big payday for his boss, his crew, and himself. When George relaxes and puts himself into a role, he is better off, and Capt. Tyne is the pinnacle of that for him.
Mark Wahlberg comes on board as Bobby Shatford, a rookie fisherman who is trying to make a better life for himself and his girlfriend Chris (nicely played by Diane Lane). Bobby is the only character given equal depth to Billy and comes off with the same impression: a good guy who was trying hard to make a better life. Very nicely done here as well.
Supporting cast is good, John C. Reilly as Dale "Murph" Murphy, William Fichtner as David "Sully" Sullivan, a late arrival to the Andrea Gail's crew, Michael Ironside as the profit first Bob Brown. All of these stellar characterizations and serve brilliantly to put you into Gloucester of 1991.
Wolfgang Petersen has created a gripping film, full of chillingly realistic special effects. He skillfully took Sebastian Junger's novel and tweaked it to fit the confines of the motion picture screen. Casting and acting by all involved was perfect and you never once feel like anything is overacted or overly dramatic, just that you are somehow involved with the fear that had to have been involved on that night.
4 1/2 out of 5
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on Sebastian Junger's best-seller, Petersen's motion picture
relates the well known true story of six brave fishermen who really
fought for survival with all their heart, skill and tenacity
hurricane hits full force just as their ice machine breaks down,
leaving the six men onboard with two choices: Let all of the fish they
have caught spoil and hang out for a few days till it calms down, or
try to salvage their income and pride by navigating 'right for the
middle of a monster.'
It's a film of high drama, tragedy, hubris, and one of Mother Nature's nastiest hurricane on record There is the bad weather, the constant danger of mechanical failure, the perils of controlling a crew of strong and colorful men, not to mention the threat of the fishing itself in raging waters
George Clooney is excellent as the disappointed skipper who couldn't know the true price of fish, and whose dignity is wounded because he can't find fish on familiar waters...
The women left on the shore include a friendly rival captain with better luck; a worried woman afraid to lose her man to the cruel sea; a caring mother begging her precious boy to be careful; and a sweet single mom who shows up dockside the next morning to say goodbye
"The Perfect Storm" may be considered one of the great sea movies It is a terrifying adventure with thrilling images: The shark attack on the deck of the Gail; Captain Tyne's exploits while trying to repair a broken mast; the remarkable bravery of a chopper crew riding the scary waves to save three lives trapped on a small luxury yacht; and the mid-air refueling attempt for a rescue helicopter thwarted by strong winds The 'Andrea Gail' was pushed straight into raging waters where the real fish are
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those movies in which the extraordinary looks reasonably
real, and the mundane feels embarrassingly fake. Everything about this
movie is not only predictable but forecast. Essentially, stupid people
in a tired story take far too long to die. George Clooney and Marky
Mark play dueling whiskers, William Fichtner is solid as always, and
Wolfgang Petersen sleeps on the job.
A disaster spectacle with fifteen minutes of spectacle is disastrous only if you have to sit through it. There's an hour and a half of foot-dragging on the most shameless crayon & cardboard elements - kid cries over his broken family, young couple plans a happy life together before tearfully parting at the dock, handsome captain rejects pretty captain in favor of the open sea - while, conversely, the action-spectacle stuff is brief and rushed. Lots of watching people try to get back into boats and helicopters, climbing ropes, spars, transoms. I mean no disrespect to the men who died in this storm. Probably the filmmakers didn't either. But best-laid plans should start with a script.
Rent TOWERING INFERNO if you must. But don't do this. You've got your whole life ahead of you.
The Perfect Storm: Billy Tyne is a swordboat captain who's hit a patch of
bad luck - while his colleagues have returned to port nearly bursting at
seams with fish, his hold is nearly empty. Convinced that it is his turn
score the big haul, Tyne convinces his crew to go on one last run before
end of the season and heads for the North Atlantic. He never figured
Nature into his plans.
I remember reading about the Andrea Gail soon after "The Storm of the Century" hit the eastern seaboard. It was only a matter of time before someone tried to bring this story to the big screen. Thankfully, it was Wolfgang Petersen who did so - here he does for fishing what he did for submarine warfare in "Das Boot" - puts the viewer in the midst of the action and scares the hell out of them.
I can say without exaggeration that I have never experienced a movie as stressful as this one (the friend I brought to the premiere was literally ill). The movie starts out slowly and deliberately, gradually setting the stage for what is about to come. Petersen utilizes several subplots to build the suspense: initially he focuses on the disappointment of the crew as they repeatedly fail to hit the motherlode. Masterfully intercut with this are scenes documenting an idyllic sailing trip that turns ugly, and the Coast Guard attempts to rescue them. Consequently, the tension, like the storm, continues to build to a crescendo, and never wanes. The movie also feels real.
I have been in twenty-foot seas once in my life, and that was more than enough for me (it was one of the few times I ever contemplated my own mortality). Watching this movie brought it all back: the waves looked so real that it is often difficult to differentiate between the CGI and the real thing. Also, I could feel the waves as they pounded relentlessly against the boat (the theatre I saw this in had a great sound system) and was deafened by the shrieking wind. The experience, is, for lack of a better word, ferocious - I kept everything to disintegrate in the onslaught. However, special effects alone do not adequately convey the appropriate sense of danger.
Many of the water scenes were actually shot in heavy seas - they managed to film in the tail end of a hurricane - adding to the realism (several members of the crew were regularly feeding the fish...). The actors faced additional dangers - Mark Wahlberg came perilously close to drowning, not once but twice, and was injured by one of the animatronic creatures. Anyone expecting Clooney or Wahlberg to be glamorous will be sorely disappointed - they are earthy, and scraggly. But more importantly, their performances ring true. Indeed, all of the main characters deliver subtle, believable performances.
I have never given a strong endorsement with an equally strong caveat - you must see this movie, but only if you can handle stress. And yes I am serious on both counts.
Based on a true story, and dedicated to ten thousand Gloucestermen lost at sea since 1623, `The Perfect Storm' is a powerful movie that will take you places to which you've never been before. Director Wolfgang Peterson has deftly crafted an intense rendering of the story of the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat captained by Billy Tyne that left Gloucester, Massachusetts, in the fall of 1991, and soon encountered the storm of the century. After a less than profitable trip out, Captain Tyne (George Clooney) sets out again in October, with a crew of five men, and heads for deep water and a place know as the `Flemish Cap.' It's a dangerous trek for that time of year, but he assures his men that the catch will be worth the risk. What he could not foresee, however (nor could any meteorologist), was that three major storms would converge to form a single storm, the likes of which comes along only once in every one hundred years or so. Fate steps in further when, after their catch is made, their ice making machine burns out, leaving them without the means of packing and preserving the fish. They have no choice but to go back in, directly through the storm, lest the fish spoil, in which case all of their work, and the risks taken, would be for naught. Tyne lets the crew decide; do they turn away and wait out the storm, losing everything, or do they prove that they're `Gloucestermen,' and try to make it back. What Peterson did with this film, the way he tells the story, can be likened to what Melville did with the novel, `Moby Dick;' as it moves along, he fleshes out the characters and subtly provides an intimate portrait of what this kind of life is all about. He pays such meticulous attention to details, that by the time you're in the middle of the storm, the impact is extraordinary; you know what this boat is and how it works, you've smelled the fish and the sweat and the sea, and worked alongside the crew. You know these people and what's at stake here. You know the feel of the fishing lines and the grappling hooks, felt that rush of adrenaline that comes when you hook a big one, or when a huge wave washes over the deck. He gives you so much in this film, puts you in it so completely, that it primes your senses for whatever's to come. Combine all of this with the best special effects imaginable, outstanding performances, and a terrific score by John Horner, and you're in for the thrill of a lifetime. The charismatic Clooney is exemplary here as Tyne; he knows him from the inside out, which enables him to convey a real sense of who this man is. And it shows in the way he carries himself, the way he walks and talks, right down to the look in his eye. He's tough without any unwarranted theatrics or bravura, is self-assured, but aware of his own shortcomings, as well. It's a commanding performance with nuance and depth; It's all there, and Clooney makes it real. Mark Wahlberg, also, is outstanding as Bobby Shatford, the rookie fisherman who can't stand to be more than two feet away from the woman he loves, Christina (Diane Lane). Lane gives a notable performance here, too, as does John C. Reilly, who does an emotional turn as `Murph,' the veteran fisherman with a young son he loves, and who lives with the remorse of past mistakes that cost him his wife. Rounding out the exceptional supporting cast are William Fichtner (Sully), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Linda), Allen Payne (Alfred), John Hawkes (Bugsy) and Michael Ironside (Bobby Brown). There are thrills and heroics to spare in `The Perfect Storm,' but it's also inspiring; once you've seen the Coast Guard in action, for example, you'll never take them for granted again. What makes this such a great movie, though, is that it's about real people, doing their jobs and going about living their lives like we all do. It's an instance of ordinary people getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and Peterson has made them accessible, ones with whom anyone in the audience will be able to identify. This is an emotionally charged, unforgettable film; you'll experience things from the comfort of your seat in the theater (or on the couch) that most people will never get close to in real life. And therein lies the true magic of the cinema. This is one movie you absolutely do not want to miss. 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
By the time most people saw this film in a theater, or rented it, they
already knew the ship would sink and its crew would be dead in less
than two hours.
Surprisingly, this diminishes not one whit from the film's power. Even on several viewings, the film never betrays a moment that is false, maudlin, or sentimental. The plot is not what keeps people engaged during this film. It is the issue. How do people face death? In this film, the people are the captain and crew of the boat. They know their job, commercial fishing, is difficult and dangerous, even in good weather. The weather is rainy. The men need the money. They go out even though they know they will meet a storm. They are used to risking their lives every day. Few people appreciate how dangerous it is to deliver that fish entrée to the table.
The storm turns into a hurricane that traps the men, plays rough with them, and kills them. They struggle to save their own lives. They fail. When they are neck deep in water in a compartment of the overturned boat, they face death squarely. They talk, briefly, and unsentimentally, about things they will not be able to do, people they will miss. The stark, plainness of the acting achieves a powerful emotional effect.
At the beginning of the film, the viewer meets the crew. On multiple viewings, the film reveals nothing milked -- nothing artificial. The men are solid, working people. There is no sappy foreshadowing.
Director deserves kudos, for maintaining tight-fisted control of a vehicle that could have been campy, or worse.
The viewer will learn a lot about meteorology, especially about hurricanes. The special effects are indistinguishable from live action.
All the actors, including George Clooney, maintain a stoic, engagement with life, and they struggle to live, with no appeal to our pity, until they die.
The Perfect Storm is more than a film. It is a parable.
Heading into this film I did not expect the full on and intense experience
that it delivered. I expected brilliant and seamless computer graphics, they
were delivered. I expected a fairly personal story about the people
involved, that was delivered. I expected some amazing sounds and sights, and
I got them.
While I was watching this film, I couldn't help being aware of the fact that the people being tossed around the sea were, at least in part, real and that this movie was based on what they went through. But I also got more... I got to be in the storm and feel my heart quicken a little as the fishing vessel edges up impossibly large waves, and then crashes down to face another.
It is not a pretty film, it portrays very well the harsh environment in which it is set. It is a 'real' film, that doesn't seem to pull any punches.
The photography is excellent and really draws you in, it is fluid and makes you feel close to the action. The acting is very good, it really connects you with the crew of the Andrea Gail and those around them. The computer animation is what you would expect it to be - almost seamless - it delivers huge waves and powerful storm cells.
This is one of the best films I have seen in a long time, and truly removes you from your reality and into the storm.
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