The Perfect Storm (The Deluxe Box Set) (12)

Review by Jack Foley

DVD FEATURES: Introduction sequence and animated menu; Over 45 minutes of added value footage including: Audio Commentaries by Wolfgang Petersen & Sebastian Junger; Documentary 'Creating the Storm'; Real Life Interviews with the witnesses to the Storm; Still Gallery: 239 stills plus conceptual art with commentary by Wolfgang Petersen; Running Time - 125 mins; Subtitles (English, German, Swedish, Norweigan, Dannish, Finnish, Icelandic, English (hearing impaired); Additional Contents: Lobby Cards, Theatrical Poster, Exclusive Photo Collection.

ON HALLOWEEN of 1991, a swordfishing boat called the Andrea Gail set out on its final fishing trip of the season, determined to put a bad run of catches behind it. What it found instead was the mother of all storms, a natural phenomenon so terrifying that it threatened the very existence of the brave men on board.

The Perfect Storm, directed by Wolfgang Petersen and starring George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg, is the true story of the six fishermen involved in this battle against the elements as well as the lives of those around them. And, as an awe-inspiring spectacle which demonstrates the frightening power of Mother Nature, the movie has few equals; delivering a special effects tour de force capable of leaving viewers sea sick.

The 'No-Name Storm/Halloween Storm' as it became known was created when three raging weather fronts unexpectedly collided to produce the greatest, fiercest storm in modern history just off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts.

It caught weathermen and fishermen off-guard, creating waves over 100 feet high which were driven by winds of over 120 miles per hour. And it took the largest team of technical directors ever devoted to a non-science fiction film to re-create this experience for the movie, which is quite staggering to behold.

The last half of the film is devoted to the battle at sea and is an emotional rollercoaster which leaves you feeling almost as battered as the Andrea Gail itself. The movie is at its best when in the company of the crew, a motley bunch of men prepared to risk everything for the fishing haul which will pay their way through winter.

Yet by attempting to cast its net a little too wide, the film occasionally loses its way, offering too many characters to genuinely care about. Thus, the likes of Bob 'Shawshank Redemption' Gunton's sail boat crew, or a helicopter rescue team, get lost among the waves and fail to command the sympathy their plight should warrant.

Had The Perfect Storm solely concentrated on Clooney and co, its achievement would have been all the more towering and viewers may have gained more of an insight into the sheer terror these men faced. Instead, viewers can only glimpse the despair they must have felt inbetween the moments of heroism, which is a shame, given that the first half of the movie successfully delivers a compelling human drama only touched upon during the effects-heavy finale.

On the acting front, all of the crew acquit themselves well during the first section, with Clooney particularly effective as the hardened sea-man who sees this last outing as the chance to erase the memory of a disappointing summer. Any doubts about his leading man status should surely be washed away.

Wahlberg is also good value as the youngest of the fishermen, playing well off Clooney as he did in Three Kings, while the likes of John C Reilly, John Hawkes and William Fichtner, as seasoned crewmembers, add to the emotional thrust of the tale.

But at a time of year when movies are judged more in terms of spectacle than on genuine human drama, The Perfect Storm can boast a large helping of both.

As co-star Reilly points out: "What's terrifying about this story is the concept of being out at sea and being hit by a monster storm... When you're out on a boat, there's nowhere to go. Human beings just aren't meant to be out in the middle of hundred-foot waves." Taking this into account, the movie effectively proves his point.