Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: James Franco, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Donnie Wahlberg, Macka Foley
Director: Justin Lin
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Hailed by the Associated Press as a "rousing, crowd-pleasing drama," this inspirational tale of courage and honor hits harder than ever before through the technological brilliance of Blu-ray DiscŪ. As difficult as it is t... more »
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Rocky versus the Navy
Robert A. Williams | Oberlin, OH United States | 05/25/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Younger fans of Hollywood films will no doubt give this movie the thumbs up. But for those Hollywood film fans old enough to remember the 1982 film "An Officer and a Gentleman" starring Richard Gere, "Annapolis" is a poor imitation. "An Officer and a Gentleman" told the melodramatic story of Zack Mayo, played by Richard Gere, whose self-absorption came into harsh conflict with the communitarian values of his drill instructor Emil Foley played by Lou Gossett Jr . The extra-curricular affair between Zack and a local girl served to illuminate his self-interested attitude in which the interests of others were held in little regard. Only after Mayo's best friend Sid Worley commited suicide over an unhappy romance did Zack come out of his culturally-programmed adolescence and then mature into adulthood.
That said, younger audiences will like the melodramatic plot of "Annapolis". James Franco plays Jake Huard, an amateur boxer and shipyard worker who wants to climb the class ladder to become a midshipman. And this is where Jake Huard parts company with his predecessor Zack Mayo. Zack Mayo was always officer material, just pre-absorbed with getting ahead and not taking notice that others were trying to get ahead also. Jake Huard, however, is in search of his estranged father's approval and determines to suffer whatever it takes to become an officer. Whereas Mayo matured into an officer, Huard remains a self-absorbed boxer in a Navy uniform - although less self-absorbed because he is able to get the monkey off his back and win his father's approval.
In a style reminiscent of "Boom Boom" Mancini, Huard battered his Congressperson with requests for over 30 days straight in order to secure a letter of recommendation to Annapolis. Once there, he bunks with the loser Estrada played by Wilmer Calderon, the methodical Loo played by Roger Fan, and the misfit Twins masterfully played by Vicellous Reon Shannon. Twins and Huard are scorned and ridiculed by the other cadets who view them as misfits. The resulting chemistry between these two characters is superb, reinforced by Shannon's excellent acting in his portrayal of Twins. Huard continues to break rules and grate nerves until his opportunity for redemption arrives - a boxing showdown with the cadet menace Cole, played by Tyrese Gibson. The film quickly transforms itself into Rocky versus the Naval Dictator. Despite the canned character scripts and sea of clichés complained of by previous reviewers, the melodrama never sinks with the ship.
The so-called romance or lust attraction that develops between Huard and the officer Ali played by Jordana Brewster is pretty far-fetched. It is true that, in real American life, sometimes -rarely - American teachers fall for students. It happens. But Huard had one previous meeting with Ali in a bar prior to all this, so she had not always been his superior officer. Younger audiences will find the relationship between Huard and Ali plausible, while older audiences will find it preposterous.
"Annapolis" is directed by Justin Lin and was filmed at a Philadelphia College rather than the actual Annapolis. It seems that the Navy does not cotton to disparaging Hollywood films - they said "No" to "An Officer and a Gentleman" too, which was mostly filmed on location at Port Townsend, Washington rather than the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida.
Rated PG-13 for profanity, lust, alcohol and violence.
Isaac | Raleigh, NC | 02/02/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"What begins as an intelligent, well-written, character-driven military drama gradually descends into the firey pits of cliche hell during its second half. Viewers of "Annapolis" will most likely be students of "An Officer and a Gentleman," one of the greatest military films ever made, in which a Naval academy enrollee faced his over-aggressive drill instructor in a battle of wills. That film, as it progressed from scene to scene, become a powerful experience in its own way, if only marginally so. "Annapolis" works in a similar way during its first half, dealing a deck of raw emotional power and a sincere study of its characters. And then, without warning, it falls from grace into one of the first most unoriginal films of 2006.
To say that "Annapolis" is an example of how not to make an effective military drama is to say that the Atlantic Ocean is damp. Considering everything that happens, what the characters go through and how they change, where the characters end up, and what they do or do not accomplish, the film is essentially a half-drawn journey to a very poor destination. There are no surprises, save for perhaps one, and no sudden twists that grab the audience by surprise. If you take away the aspects of the Naval Academy, it is about a young man named Jake Huard (James Franco) who wants to win the favor of his father.
Huard works alongside his buddies in a shipyard across the bay from the Annapolis Naval Academy. An aimless young man who is at odds with his father, he has always wanted to attend the Academy and serve his country as an officer in the United States Navy, and one day, out of the blue, he is given a letter of acceptance. Upon arrival, he meets and makes friends with his three roommates, the overweight Twins (Vicellous Reon Shannon), the rule abiding Loo (Roger Fan), and the abrasive, cocky Estrada (Wilmer Calderon).
Somehow, he also manages to develop a relationship with one of his commanding officers, the beautiful Ali (Jordanna Brewster), whom he approached the night before his departure in a bar, thinking that she was a hooker. He also butts heads with his fierce commanding officer, Cole (Tyrease Gibson), an aggressive boulder on loan to the Navy from the Marines. The relationships between these characters are just as well-written as one would anticipate, and they are all very well-acted.
All was going well until the second half of the film began, in which I leaned forward in my chair and rubbed my eyes in disbelief. "Annapolis" is a boxing movie. Jake was an amateur boxer before he came to the Academy, and he is given a shot at participating in the Brigades, a tournament in which the enrollees get to fight one another. At first, Jake struggles for entry under the boxing teacher, Coach McNally (Chi McBride), but, unsurprisingly, he becomes one of the best fighters at the school. Under the support of sexy Ali, Jake battles his way through the tournament, with the championship match against the hard-hitting Cole at the end of the tunnel.
By the time the film was over, I wanted to do very bad things to the script, or at least the second half of the script. The film ends in 2008, which means that Jake must be entering the Academy right now or a couple of years ago, which means that we would be in a war on terrorism, which means that a boxing tournament would not be on Jake's mind. Instead of depicting Jakes journey through training at the Academy, his battle of wills with Cole, and his progression to taking command of a ship in the war on terrorism, "Annapolis" decides to place its characters in the ring, with the hero facing hardships during fights and outside of them, all the way up to the big championship match.
Exactly how Ali can get away with kissing one of her trainees is beyond me, but the film is apparently too lopsided to pay attention to detail. And just because the commanding officer is aggressive does not mean that we should hate him and despise him. In "Annapolis" he is just as tough as you would preceive him to be, and is therefore not a credible villain even if we are rooting for Jake.
While James Franco does a terrific job, there are only two perfect performances in the film: Vicellous Reon Shannon as Twins and Tyrease Gibson as Cole. Twins is probably the best character in the movie, better than Jake, and is given the most emotional depth. The scenes involving him, his story, and his fate are well thought out, and his relationship with Jake manages to push the film in a better direction, if only marginally so. Tyrease Gibson is perfect as the tough commanding officer. For at least a little while, the film plays like a version of "Crimson Tide" on land, with Jake and Cole duking it out.
The film should have stayed in that direction, but it didn't. If the first half of the film hadn't been so good, had it not brought forth the setup and character development that it did, then everything would have been sunk in the water. "Annapolis" is so intersting for the first act and then becomes riddled with cliches and eventually runs out of gas. Before we leave the theater, we find ourselves watching a totally different movie, and wondering why we bothered with it in the first place. - Isaac
Rated PG-13; 106 minutes; Directed by Justin Lin"
Not the train wreck I thought it would be, but...
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/28/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Annapolis is supposed to be a story of the underdog, who rises above the fray to achieve glory, but the movie is riddled with so many clichés and rip-offs and features such an absolutely astounding lack of imagination on behalf of the director Justin Lin, that it becomes almost impossible to take any of it seriously. It doesn't help that for much of the time, Annapolis just can't figure out what it wants to be - a picture about boxing or a hard-edged military drama. I rented it for the beefcake - so go figure.
This competently made but rather bland take on An Officer and A Gentleman and Rocky stars James Franco as the melancholy Jake Huard. Jake is a working-class kid who works with his father (Brian Goodman) on the Annapolis shipyards, drinks beers with his buddies at night, but in reality harbors dreams of attending the Naval Academy across the bay.
Jake is also an amateur boxer, and his undeniable talent in the ring gets the attention of an officer from the Academy. Soon he's admitted into Annapolis and becomes the nemesis of Tyrese Gibson's ex-Marine midshipman Lt. Cole, the film's titular villain but really just a nice guy at heart. Lt. Cole seems determined to undermine Jake as well as prove he's the superior force in the real life Brigade Championships.
The poor Jake - and his "plebe" mates - are forced to undergo all kinds of humiliations in order to toughen them up for officer material, he encounters merciless rules, the dogged and resolute brotherhood, and the unsparing superior Lt. Cole, and the film does do a good job of portraying some of the rigors of training. But all too often the film falls into sadistic stereotyping and much of what we see doesn't always come across as true.
The eye-catching Jordana Brewster drops in and out of the story as a spunky upperclassman and romantic interest that is attracted to Jake's rugged good looks and rough manners, but likewise, her character isn't that realistic.
James Franco is suitably sullen and earnest as Jake, he's reserved and inscrutable at the start, but there's something un-charismatic about him and we never really root for him like we should.
Annapolis starts off quite well. There's a gritty, edgy quality to the proceedings and the dynamic between Jake and his father is generally well done. If the movie had concentrated much more on the motivations of their uneasy relationship - his father doesn't believe he will ever make it - the film as a whole would probably have been much more interesting.
Lin does inject a little tension into the forcefully integrated cast - particularly during the training sessions and there's some real frenetic energy infused into the fight scenes - there's also lots of muscled eye candy - but the film never manages to find a single surprise in the script or rise above the ordinary. Most viewers will probably end up telegraphing each plot turn as it comes. Mike Leonard June 06.
Savant11 | Canada | 01/30/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I went to see this movie because I have a fondness and deep interest in military colleges. 'A Sense of Honor' by James Webb (a fictional account of Annapolis in the 1960's) is one of my all time favorite books. Though my interest in military colleges has waned over the years it has by no means completely dissipated. And when I heard of this movie I made sure to see it on opening day.
The movie seems to be less about life at the Academy than it is as a lesson about not giving up on yourself. Some of the things I found notable is that for one the film wasn't shot at the school, it was shot in Philadelphia. And has been mentioned before why Jordana Brewster's character didn't get in trouble for the amount of time she spent 'fraternizing' with a male plebe is beyond me. And how the 'Twins' character made it that far in the year by being so heavy is also surprising. Annapolis is one of the most elite universities in the US, would the Academy really have gone out of their way to recruit a poor student, even if he was a boxer?
The film basically is no different than the usual 'fish out of water' story we have seen a million times. But what made this bearable was the fact that the character Huard didn't act out because he was rebellious. But more so out of poor self-esteem. As a working class boy in his heart he did not believe that he did not belong there. However as the film went on, it was nice to see his confidence build. I also liked the friendship with Twins, the two young men really supported each other very well.
I am not a big fan of Tyreese Gibson. But he really shinned in this role as the tight no-nonsense first class-man. It was a marked change from the "home-boy/street thug" roles he normally is cast into.
I thought that while the film was very weak it was also very inspirational.