Saturday, January 28, 2006

Annapolis

Note: I initially gave this a B- though it's more like a C (I gave Domino a C+ regrettably, so I couldn't give Annapolis worse). It's not a great movie, but it's not as bad as critics are making it out to be (10% on RottenTomatoes, last time I checked). Anyway, here is the review (edited by DBK) that I wrote for The Diamondback....

Title: Annapolis (2006)
Dir: Justin Lin
Tagline: Where Heroes Are Born And Legends Are Made.
Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars



Even though the film takes place in Maryland’s capital, you probably know very little about Annapolis, a movie by indie director Justin Lin.

Misleading commercials and lame poster art seem to have generated a lot of public (myself included) apathy for this film. However, it turns out, the movie is better than its barely existent marketing campaign would have you believe. Groundbreaking? No. Formulaic? Somewhat. Entertaining? Yes.

Annapolis centers on Jake Huard (James Franco, Spider-Man), a young shipyard worker with dreams of attending the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. When a Navy lieutenant (Donnie Wahlberg, Saw II) takes a chance on Jake, those dreams become reality. Ever the rebellious one, Huard becomes a target for his superior officers, especially the very tough Midshipman Lieutenant Cole (Tyrese Gibson, Four Brothers).

Despite his thoughts of quitting, Jake endures physical and emotional stress and forms some bonds along the way. And what would any hot military movie plot be without a woman to steal the leading man’s heart — a female commander portrayed by Jordana Brewster (The Fast and the Furious).

With the help of his new friends, Jake trains for the Brigade Championships, a highly anticipated Navy boxing competition, where he will face off with Lt. Cole. The event represents an opportunity for Jake to make his father proud, stand up for his fellow recruits and prove to himself he is more than just a blue-collar ship builder.

The plotline is pretty run-of-the-mill: The hardened rebel learns the value of admitting his flaws and accepting help from others. Only then does he have what it takes to be a man (or in this case, a Naval officer). In short, it’s nothing you haven’t seen before.

However, Annapolis provides enough juice to keep you interested. It delivers some amusing one-liners, along with some really cheesy ones (“Help is like sex — take it any way you can from anyone you can.”). The boxing scenes are well-shot, making them one of the film’s highlights. While this film may not contribute to a boxing shrine like Rocky, there is no shortage of excitement.

Considering the PG-13 rating and the fact that Disney signed as a producer, the movie is sufficiently watered-down for teenagers, but not to the point of boredom or irritation for the rest of us.

At first glance, Franco seems horribly miscast in the role of a military man because his ideal performances are usually the “rebel” or “spoiled, rich kid.” That trend makes Franco suitable for the role of Jake, a guy who really doesn’t belong in the military, but refuses to quit anyway. Gibson, not limited by his male-model status, is also believable in his role as Lt. Cole.

The United States Navy refused to support this film for “not accurately reflecting” the organization. Given that, Annapolis may not be particularly realistic and if that bothers you, consider this a warning. However, since the Navy aspect of the film takes a back seat to the boxing and the characters, it is unlikely that the average audience member will be bothered by the supposed inaccuracies.

Do not expect to see Annapolis among the Academy Award nominations this year, even though it could win a ribbon for most under-promoted film of 2006. The movie has its fair share of genre clich├ęs, but it should offer enough cheesy humor and cool boxing scenes to keep you amused for an hour and forty minutes.

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