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Some people never liked Ali. He is one of those characters who is so
strong, most people are forced to either love him despite his
weaknesses or hate him. He was one figure in American history who never
really needed anybody.
He was a conscientious objector against the Viet Nam war, yet he is honored by presidents of the nation he refused to capitulate with in crimes against humanity. His story is that vital to America.
When Ali was still a teenager, he tried his best to prove his personal excellence in a society prejudiced against black people. He won the boxing gold medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960, yet he came home to Louisville and still wasn't "good enough" buy a sandwich at a white restaurant, because he was black.
He then decided if the gold medal wasn't good enough for America, then it wasn't good enough for him. At this point in his life, when he had nothing else; he took the gold medal and threw it in the river.
He observed the wrestler, Gorgeous George, and admired the way he used the negative energy generated by those who disapproved of him as fuel to become the top attraction and make fools of all those who were against him. He wanted to make people boo him. He proclaimed himself as more beautiful than any creature on the planet. He told the world he was the greatest who ever lived. The more they booed him, the more energy it gave him.
He didn't have a mentor or a manager. He assembled a group of Louisville investors to bankroll him, all by himself. He knew exactly what he wanted from the world, reached out and took it. He made a crown out of it. Nobody gave him anything, and nobody can ever take that away.
He discarded the name of a great white civil rights leader during the civil war and reasoned that if he was really free to be what HE was, then he should take a name that he thought was a natural black person's name. It didn't make sense for others who came before him to fight and win the rights to do whatever they wanted, if they were then going to do nothing but turn around and say "Thank You". He decided in order to validate the fight for freedom, his role was to be free.
Muhammad Ali is played by the maybe the only person in the universe who would dare to even attempt it and he succeeds marvelously; not just in a marginal way, but in a big, big way.
This film isn't just swagger, or an imitation of Ali. This is a deep, sensitive, poignant, and romantic story about one of the greatest public figures of the twentieth century. This man truly is a poet and he's lived the life of a poet. To a great extent, Muhammad Ali made his life a manifesto of truth about the American experience. Of all the stories of the twentieth century in America, this was one of the most important ones to tell.
This film has characters galore: from Jamie Foxx as Bundini Brown, who keeps chanting "float like a butterfly, sting like a beeee!" when everyone in the world thought Ali was going to die at the hands of Sonny Liston; Jada PinkettSmith as Ali's devoutly religious and adoring first wife; MichaelMichele playing Veronica Porche, a beautiful jet set model with whomAli had an affair, to a strong performance by Mario Van Peebles as Ali's conscience; Malcolm X, who forces Ali to think against himself and his adoring Black Muslim following in the interests of right and wrong.
This film has irony, choreography, conflict, humor, drama; and accurately portrays the highest highs of any public figure I've seen in my lifetime, as well as some of the most bitter defeats.
This is about male psychology. This is about female psychology. This is about a religious movement in America. This is about a culture in America and many cultures in America and their struggles to live together and treat each other right and fairly, while trying to do the right thing as concerns their own conscience.
The most glaring weaknesses of any sports film ever made are in the sport scenes themselves. This is the strongest point of this film and also makes it the greatest sports film ever made.
I've been a boxing fan since I was eleven. I was a part of crowds who gathered around Muhammad Ali before he became champion. I know what he looks like face to face. I've watched his boxing films dozens of times, and I'll tell you that the scenes in this movie are perfect reenactments of what actually happened in the ring. This couldn't have been done in less than dozens of takes per scene. They throw punches exactly like the fighters in the real fights. They're in the same part of the ring when they throw those punches. They react to the punches the same way. They even get knocked down in the correct parts of the ring in exactly the same way as the fighters who were in the original fight.
I'm not going to comment on whether it should have won an Oscar for best picture, best actor, best supporting actor, best direction, best photography, best choreography, or other features in the film. Maybe it's better that it didn't win those awards in that year because this film is bigger than any year.
This is the sports film that all others will be judged by from here on out by anyone with any sense of realism and art in movies.
This is one for the ages.
The fights are not rocky-type or "entertaining" but REAL. Inside the
ring, things are different. I was glad to see close to perfect adaptation
Ali's fights (I watched documentary on Ali's career). Michael Mann gets
credit for painting all the different aspects of Ali's life superbly.
'Ali' is based on a real legend and not a super-hero and so it is hell of
job to portray such a personality on big screen and make it so
The only downside of the movie was to focus a little longer on effect of Africa on him. But the "Loud mouth" CHAMPs witty and "punchy" remarks in his real life along, with his big blows inside the ring, will keep you glued for more.
Overall, Will Smith's hard-work, Mann's adaptation and Mohammad Ali's legendary life makes 'Ali' a must watch for movie goers.
Well, if you went to Ali to see an boxing movie you might have been disappointed, but if you went to see a great film you hit the mark. The hype was due. A conglomerate of great acting, great direction, and a great story has made Ali a landmark film. This film is socially important because it raises up one of the most notable and underappreciated figures of the twentieth century, Ali. Many considered Ali just a boxer with a big mouth, but this film finally exposes him for what he truly was, one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our time. The film makes subtle but amazingly-done comparisons between Ali and other civil rights leaders, notably Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and highlites Ali's influence with theirs. This theme is climaxed in the beautiful scene of Ali (Will Smith) running down streets in Africa with local chidren chanting his name. At this moment in the film, we understand as viewers that Ali did not fight for fame or fortune, but he fought for his rights and the rights of all black people in the United States and the world. No other film has exhalted Ali's influence in such a way. It was beautifully done. Ali will become one of my favorite films of all time, and I believe will be remembered years from now as the crowning achievement of both the main actor and the director. I applaud their efforts
There are many critics out there who have given this film negative reviews on the basis that the film didn't succeed in giving the viewers a focused look at how significant and grand Ali was. I understand completely the motivations and arguments behind those negative reviews. However, I must say they misunderstood what the movie was trying to do. Because most thought Ali would be a standard bio-pic, the film was expected to cover a sprawling canvas of a larger-than-life figure of charisma known as Ali from childhood to present with deft focus on his life. This was NOT director Michael Mann's goal. Mann's ultimate objective, in my humble opinion, was to create an intimate portrait of a man whom the public saw only as a cultural icon. To give him a soul behind that grand persona. To reveal him as a fellow man among men; how he lived, how he behaved in his personal life, how he sat, how he looked, how he talked, every little insignificant moments of his life in the film were there to give the public an idea, a glimpse of him as a fellow human being and not as an icon or a symbol. That is why the movie was an absolute masterpiece. Although Will Smith's performance in the film was hypnotically amazing, I must say the real star of the movie for me was Michael Mann. From the first 10 minutes or so of the montage sequence in the beginning of the movie, Mann absorbed me right in with his achingly beautiful, intimate, and minimalistic photography and compositions. I still see the imagery in my head going on a loop and forcing me to play back the memorable images my eyes were exposed to as if they were photographic printing paper. The movie was so beautiful and poignant, I found myself weeping during the many moments of introspective scenes with Ali looking on towards the horizon or vacantly into nothingness as if internally struggling to find his identity. Before I stop myself in rambling on and on about how much I'm in love with this film and Michael Mann's directing style, I should note that there is a sequence in the movie where you won't resist in emotionally breaking down. The sequence in question is the jogging sequence in Africa where Ali runs past non-chalantly through a village and looks at children's murals on concrete walls of himself. I WILL NOT spoil this because I want you viewers to go through the same shock that I had.
Muhammad Ali is a heroic character with legendary wit, humanity, and
boxing skill. Always a fighter and always a lover, Ali's life is a
subtle and clever story of dignity, strength, and compassion. And Ali
himself wrote that story. This film profoundly reminds me of an
autobiography Ali wrote several years ago with the help of a friend.
Never afraid to do what needed to be done to get where he wanted to go,
Ali was never a stranger to controversy, flambuoyance, acid wit, and an
outspoken promotion of truth - even when most of his own fans couldn't
see it. This film captures the champ's many battles, not the least of
which are the internal battles he wages with himself over politics, his
ego, money and his own destructive patterns in relationships with
women. But thankfully, it does so in a respectful way which does not
compromise the man's heroism, nor does it spare the audience of the
laughter, mischief and joy Ali became so well known for.
Michael Mann's film has relatively little boxing in it, and is in no way a chronicle of Ali's career. A better choice for that subject is "The Greatest" - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076111/combined starring Ali himself, or one of the many documentaries on Ali. This film is about how and why Ali is who he is, and how he drove himself and everybody around him to reach phenomenal heights. It features the beginnings of Ali's career and follows him through the most difficult part of his career, when he fought the US government over the Viet Nam war, fought his own religious establishment over his outspokenness, and even fought against hypocritical promoters he relied on who were bent on exploiting the third world. Too intelligent to just be a prize fighter, too passionate to just shut up, and too faithful to give up his religion when it gave up on him, Ali just kept on driving. The film ends after Ali's fight against George Foreman in 1977, so it does not cover his entire career, and does not discuss his more recent activities. His life since retiring from boxing is equally interesting, in my opinion, but since Mann wanted to depict the most dramatic and challenging aspects of the Ali legend, I can't blame him for his choice of time frame.
The cast is very strong. Will Smith gives a fine performance wonderfully recasting Ali's wonderful facial expressions, gestures, physical style and speech pattern, Jamie Foxx, Ron Silver and Mario Van Peebles are all excellent in their supporting roles. And the boxers are all very believable. They even look like the people they play. Smith doesn't really look anything like Ali, and you are occasionally aware (mainly through Smith's imitation of the greatest's very unique speech) that you are watching an imitation, but this does not in any way detract from the film.
Highly recommended for those interested in real-life drama and heroism, the civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s, and the intelligent and political side of American sports. NOT recommended for fans of boxing movies and action films. This is a slow moving, intense drama and neither a feel-good film nor a slug-fest.
Ali is a film that both succeeds and fails at the same time. Will Smith's
performance was very solid, yet I never was able to shake the feeling
on screen it was Will Smith playing Muhammad Ali and not simply Muhammad
Ali. Perhaps that is through no fault of his. He truly does a great
impression of the fighter. The script is again decent, centering on
facets of the star's life that go beyond the sports pages. However,
the whole project has a rather distant feel. The viewer rarely is truly
captivated by what is occurring. Michael Mann's characteristic
documentary-esque filming style works well in parts, but services to
alienate the viewer in others. Yes, it feels as though you are almost
watching a documentary in many cases, as if the viewer is a bystander to
circumstances at hand, but this is a work of drama, not a documentary. I
wish someone had told Mann to stop shaking the camera and shifting to
Ali between the standard stock of blurred reporters for a few seconds and
a more typically dramatic shot. With Heat and The Insider, Mann managed
pull off this style successfully. In Ali he does not. In many cases
conversations begin to rise but then only dissipate before anything
gripping has been said. Simply put, this film could have used a few more
motivational speeches along the lines of a Rocky film. Perhaps it
have been as accurate, but it would have serviced a more dramatic story,
least one where the viewer really felt involved. Ali goes through two
in the film and in neither case do they even serve to get very angry with
him. Voices begin to rise and then either the woman or Ali leaves the
The scene ends without any heavy emotion other than stern faces being
He's divorced a few minutes later. The fight scenes also have a lack of
emotion. The film style is interesting and visually stimulating, but it
could have used a few `it's over Rock!' lines here and there to punctuate
Mann's standard use of music again fails in many cases here. Whereas in "historical" films like Forrest Gump period music is used to punctuate a dramatic score, in Ali it is almost the sole backing track of the film. There is scarcely any musical score involved. When it is used, it often seems like it was just pieced together from leftovers to provide ambience. In a few key dramatic scenes, the pop ditties being played (although sometimes fitting lyrically) really end up being a distraction. The death of Malcolm X is a prime example. Ali's close friend has just been killed and you're just waiting for a rising orchestral number (however cliche and standard it may be, that's what you're looking for), but instead you get a period song that, at this point in the film, is beginning to sound like half a dozen others before it. In several cases Mann's musical style does work (Ali's jog through the streets of Zaire being an example, the closing number another) but the technique fails overall.
I've mostly criticized this film, which should not be the only viewpoint, because cinematically it is a fine work. There doesn't need to be another Ali film made, as this will service his legacy nicely. It has flaws, but I point out these flaws taking for granted just how good much of it is. The banter between Ali and Howard Cosell (Jon Voight, who completely disappears into this role) is classic, and work by Jaime Foxx and Mario Van Peebles (as Malcolm X) is solid as well. Michael Mann knows how to handle a film and I would rather watch a sub-par outing from him than most of what Hollywood produces any day. He's just done better. Some script work and a better musical score could have pushed this good film to greatness.
I personally think this movie was one of the best of last year. As a
it might be interesting to compare this movie with Beautiful Mind, that
other biopic that won too much awards. I often thought about, what if Ron
Howard,together with his writer made Ali, how would that movie be? Because
Ali's life can be told in a very Beautiful Mind'esque way.
Show how Ali became the greatest, then let his world fall, show how he begins suffering from his disease, until he has to stop boxing, and end the movie with some sort of heroic end moment, maybe an award show, where Ali get's an award like, sportsman of the decade/century whatever (I don't actually know if he ever got something like that, but it's just an example). Can you see where I'm going?
Now if you look at Ali, how this movie turned out, you see it's a complete different movie. They don't show Ali getting sick, they show only 10 years of his life, the 10 years that transformed him from a Good boxer to a Legend.
By limiting it's storytime to these 10 years, I think Michael Mann, succeeded in not making Ali sentimental. When we leave the theater we don't feel pity for Ali because he had such a hard life, like we did have in a sense with John Nash in B.mind. We leave the theater in a state of awe. The movie shows us how Ali became a legend. How he struggled and fought, and we never pity him, Ali is to powerfull a personality to pity, we respect him, and given that Ali is very much real and alive in the real world, we can't help but to look up to that person.
However, the movie doesn't glamourize Ali, it doesn't make of him a flawless larger-than-life hero. By portraying his troubled relations with his many girlfriends/wifes, how he more than once let himself be used by others etc. the movie shows Ali was human. It doesn't shy away of his questionable relationship with The Nation of the Islam, for instance. Just as Ali in real life probably wouldn't hide those facts.
Now to come to the practical aspects of this movie...because Ali is truly a magnificent film. Of course Smith plays Ali incredible, and if you compare him to footage of the real Ali, when he was about 20/30 years, you see just how close he comes to recreating Ali. But next to him we also have Jon Voight, Jaimi Foxx, Mario van Peebles, all playing so completely in-character that you hardly recognize them as actors. Then there is Mann's directorial power. From the brilliant opening 10 minutes, to the truly awe-inspiring, moving, scenes in Africa at the end, Mann carefully directs this picture, never making it dull, but also never forcing plotlines. He tells the story so subtle, you won't ever feel like he thinks that you as an audience can't understand something unless it's explained in big bright words. If someone breaks down in tears, he won't compliment this with violins in the background, soft-focus or whatever, he just shows a person breaking down. And I like this style incredibly well, especially in a biopic like this.
So to come to a conclusion, Ali is indeed a masterpiece. Not as instantly accesible as the Insider or Heat, and not as conventional as Beautiful Mind, but in it's own right one of the (not THE:) greatest Biopic's yet made.
Average movie. What was best in this film (and that was really good)
was the Sound, The Soundtrack and the Camera. All of these where at
least worthy of a nomination, if not more.
On the contrary, the screenplay was totally lacking (I think the Director knew this, hence the very frequent and prolonged musical interludes...) and the dialogs empty, somehow incomplete. In spite of another great performance by Will Smith, the characterization is also sketchy to say the least, we never really get to understand the main characters, their motivations, the reasons for their actions, and therefore can never really identify. All in all, the movie feels superficial, there is no real 'depth' to it. Younger audiences who are not familiar with the actual occurrences 30 years ago will be totally at a loss watching this film. I must say that even I was lost at times (and I actually lived during the period).
A certain kind of critical response kept me away from this film when it was in theatrical release, and I should have known better! Michael Mann is one of the most original storytellers working in film today, and his sensibility is absolutely in sync with his subject here. Muhammad Ali always did it his way, and from the brilliant opening sequence (which breaks all kinds of rules of time and space) to the last scene, that's what Mann does, and with great style, as ever. Of course if an audience demands a literal drama, they might not catch the poetry Mann and his team create with sound and picture. Will Smith is outstanding as Ali, vocally and visually, Jon Voight is a unbelievably convincing Howard Cosell, and Mario Van Peebles is subtle and moving as Malcom X.
Michael Mann is a very hit-and-miss director for me. His movies either
blow me out of the water ("The Insider," "Heat"), or they leave me cold
("Miami Vice," "Public Enemies"). Unfortunately, "Ali" belongs to the
Mann's filmmaking is always very assured, so when his movies miss, I'm never exactly sure why. There's just something boring about "Ali." It tells Muhammad Ali's story, and it does so with what could be mistaken for passion, but it just felt rote and lifeless to me, and far too long.
Will Smith and Jon Voight were honored with Academy Award nominations for playing Ali and Howard Cosell, respectively, but clearly I'm not the only one to be underwhelmed by the film, as it bombed with audiences and couldn't even crack 7.0 here at IMDb.
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