In 1964, a brash new pro boxer, fresh from his Olympic gold medal victory, explodes on to the scene, Cassius Clay. Bold and outspoken, he cuts an entirely new image for African Americans in sport with his proud public self confidence with his unapologetic belief that he is the greatest boxer of all time. To his credit, he sets out to prove that with his highly agile and forceful style soon making him a formidable boxer who soon claims the heavyweight championship. His personal life is no less noteworthy with his allegiance to the Nation of Islam, his friendship with the controversial Malcolm X and his abandonment of his slave name in favor of Muhammad Ali stirring up controversy. Yet, at the top of his game, both Ali's personal and professional lives face the ultimate test with the military draft rules are changed, making him eligible for military induction during the Vietnam War. Despite the fact that he could easily agree to a sweetheart deal that would have meant an easy tour of ...Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Albert Hall, the actor who plays the part of Black Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad, also played the part of Baines, Elijah Muhammad's assistant, in Spike Lee's biopic Malcom X (1992). See more »
The movie shows Howard Cosell at ringside doing commentary for Ali's fight with George Foreman known as "The Rumble in the Jungle". Cosell did not do commentary for the fight. In fact, he did not even attend. He was back in the United States when the fight occurred. See more »
In the opening credits, as the main title fades away the A of Ali lasts a little longer than the other two letters. See more »
Michael Mann announced in an interview with Steve Weintraub (on January 16, 2015 for 'Collider') that he is planning to release a third version of "Ali" on BluRay: "I did a re-edit of Ali for television that I really liked and I'd like to put out a Blu-ray of that edit. That was a significant re-edit. (...) It happens to move better and it's longer. (...) It's more complete and moves better. Much more dramatic." See more »
Solid performances, but there was definitely missed potential here
The first thing that I am prepared to acknowledge is Will Smith's performance in this film; he was impressive and seemed to really get into the character of Ali. Although his acting was excellent in this film, I don't believe that he should have been Oscar nominated. Likewise, Foxx and several of the supporting characters were also excellent. The film was also well-shot and generally well-made and from a technical aspect it was a fairly polished product. Unfortunately, that's where the praise for this film ends....
For me there was far too much time spent on dull aspects of Ali's life such as Ali's various relationships - this aspect of his life got way too much focus and it did, at times, make the film feel like an over-long combination of melodrama and soap opera. At the same time, other potentially more interesting or important areas seemed to either have been ignored or glossed over - there's very little focus on Ali's training, no real mention of his family. Considering the film is over 2 and a half hours long I expected there to be a reasonable amount of boxing and/or training, but we're probably treated to about 30 minutes of boxing (if that) and then 2 hours of melodrama and soap opera. I'm sure a lot of what I describe as 'melodrama' and 'soap opera' type events did occur in Ali's life, but these elements don't make for an entertaining film and should have been kept to a minimum.
All of the above isn't helped by the fact that the screenplay felt like it was put together in a haphazard way - the writers would shift from one aspect of Ali's life to another in quick succession barely giving you chance to digest what you've just seen.
Although from a technical perspective this film was generally well put together and polished I did feel that the camera work during the boxing matches was pretty poor and as a result I didn't feel quite as involved in the action as I did when I've watched other boxing films. This came as a really big disappointment when you consider how poor many other elements of the film were.
Aside from the great performances, there really isn't much else going for this film. My feeling are that it was an over-long soap opera with a bit of boxing thrown in here and there. If you want to see a good boxing biopic then I would recommend Cinderella Man. Muhammad Ali may be the Greatest, but this film certainly isn't.
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