Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

THE PERFECT STORM

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (2000, Warner Bros.)
Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

A fisherman and his crew brave a massive storm system in search of fish, while their loved ones wait in apprehension back home.

View count: Twice

 

 

4 stars

September 18th, 2004 on TV

 
   

Sometimes I worry about watching a good movie twice, because I never know if it will survive my high expectations. This movie was just as good as the first time I saw it. The music really caught me, and held my attention, and the crew seemed very real. They fought and bickered as I would have expected them to, given that they were running dry on their attempts to catch fish, and even had a shark join them on deck. But when they started catching fish, their moods improved immensely, and everybody could at least tolerate each other. I also felt for the people left behind. Knowing that their loved ones were out in that hurricane, they felt helpless -useless. The memorial ceremony was very touching. I thought I had a lot more to say after watching it for the second time, but it appears that I covered everything in my initial review, below!

On a partially unrelated note, my parents watched this movie with us this time, and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Until we realized that the following week they were going on a cruise from Montreal to New York, after such a string of large hurricanes have battered the East Coast. This came to mind when their ship came up against a huge wall of water, which shuddered the ship, breaking dishes, with water swarming over the deck and into some of the rooms -on the seventh floor! They couldn't even get into Boston harbour because of the waves and current. (Apparently, a nearby cruise ship had run into a whale, which they say was dead before encountering the ship, and was stuck to the hull.) Nasty weather -so this movie is definitely not one to watch during hurricane season if you live in areas affected by such, or plan on going cruising in hurricane season.

 

 

4 stars

August 7th, 2000 in the Theatre

 
   

Pretty intense, and very engaging. This movie tells a good story, assuming the characters are heroes, when nobody knows how they reacted to being in the situations they were in. It's about being human, and making decisions that affect not only your life, but the lives of others who trust you.

The Perfect Storm has many things going for it, and very few that detract from it. The two things that struck me the most as jolting me out of the movie experience were the poor special effects of the tankers caught in the storm, and the bad accents from just about everybody involved. The tankers set the mood as to how dangerous the storms were, but ILM has done much better. They just looked fake. But it was neat to see all those containers slip into the ocean. As for the actors, they did very well, but their maritime accents kept coming and going. They were very prevalent at the beginning of the movie, and were very bad. It looked like they were trying too hard, and the accent only came out on every other word. Toward the middle, they almost disappeared altogether. 

But while those points took me away from the movie, several things drew me right in. One of those things, which surprised me, was George Clooney. He managed to stay away from his shy tuck-of-the-head and mumble-something-under-his-breath personality, even while playing a distant and shy character.  Impressive. The other thing that impressed me was the music.  Wow! James Horner also did Titanic, so I should not be surprised.  I was completely drawn in when he scored the music so that we needed to be drawn in. The tension was high with just the visuals. The music cranked it up even higher. 

Finally, this was a love story that worked. We knew that Bobby was going into danger, and that he should have stayed home, to be with his loved one, Christina. But he goes out anyway. The setup was terrific, and I really got a sense that these two people loved each other with passion. It helps that this is based on a true story, and that perhaps the real Christina could have had some input. 

What I didn't realize was that nobody survived. We were rooting for at least somebody to survive this disaster, and I was completely shocked at the outcome. Apparently, this was known by people who watch more TV than I do. This means that there is no report as to what happened to these people. We don't know if they scored big with all those fish, or if they started tearing each others throats apart before they even hit the storm. But we have to assume that they were heroes, because we just don't know. 

The story is really human. Billy is a fishing boat captain who is down on his luck. He and his crew are not making much money, because they can't catch any fish. Linda is another captain who keeps trying to get Billy to team up with her. It is implied that they are leaning towards a romantic relationship. In any case, they are really good friends. 

Bobby and Christina want to make a life together, but they have no money. Bobby thought that last fishing trip might would bring in more money, but is sorely disappointed. He signs on when the captain sets out on another fishing trip when they have been in port for only two days. Christina is in tears, and they get into a fight when he tells her this, but they part on good terms. 

There are other characters, and they are just as human as these people. On the boat, they get on each others' nerves. Back in the town, they gather together to talk about their missing fishermen. They track three storm fronts, which collide. The boat, the Andrea Gail, has to go out farther and farther to get fish. They miss the storm, but they have to pass through it to get home. In the best of circumstances, they could stay out on the ocean until the storm passes, but their ice machine breaks.  So they either wait for the storm to pass, letting their fish spoil, or go through it. They need the money, so there is no question. 

What follows is their exploits through the storm, as well as the exploits of an Air Force rescue helicopter. These scenes are intercut very well, and increase the tension even higher. The rescue copter saves a sailboat crew, who foolishly tried to sail through the hurricane. It takes several tries, and I was not sure if any of the crewmembers, or the Air Force crew, would make it back. Amazing direction there!

Linda realizes where the Andrea Gail is headed, and that their antenna must be broken (in a massive wave that looked very real). She calls rescue, and the helicopter goes looking for them.  Unfortunately, they have trouble refueling, and end up running out of fuel. They have to ditch the helicopter, and wait for their ship to pick them up. That scene in itself was amazing. I wasn't sure if the rescue ship would survive the waves coming from that storm. 

The Andrea Gail doesn't lose a crewmember until the very end.  They mostly stay wisely below decks. So much happens that we wonder how the boat manages to stay afloat. The rollover scenes were terrific. The try to board up the windows after a piece of their stabilizer smashes it, and almost lose two crewmembers. Wow!

In the end, of course, the ship sinks. I'm not sure if a wave could crest the way it was shown, out in the open ocean. Seems to me that it requires land to make a wave crest, but maybe it's different in a hurricane situation. In any case, the boat is flipped over, bow to stern, and it doesn't right itself. In time, it fills with water, and the crew can't get out. Bobby survives the sinking, but not the storm. 

The movie continues on for a few minutes after that, showing us how the people of that small town mourned their loved ones.  Christina is especially hit hard. Wow, did I feel for her. 

This was a good story, wrapped up in a good, attractive package. I would let it settle in my mind for a while, and then see it again in an instant. The poor accents and tanker effects can't bring this one down too much.

 
   

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