Discs Are Rated
The Perfect Storm
review by Ren C.
Studio: Warner Bros.
Running Time: 130 minutes
Starring: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C.
Written by William D. Wittliff
Based on the book by Sebastian Junger
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
Retail Price: $24.98
Features: Commentaries, Documentaries, Storyboards,
Photo Montages, Trailer
(Also avaiable in special boxed sets)
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby
Digital 5.1, French Audio Track, English and French
Before watching this movie, I had very high expectations,
as I had heard from a number of people who said that it was
the gem of the summer. In retrospect, I think that my
expectations might have been a little too high. While The
Perfect Storm was a good movie, that was all that it was, it
wasn't spectacular, it wasn't phenomenal, it was just good.
The movie tells the story of the Andrea Gail, a fishing
boat from Gloucester, Massachusetts. The crew of the boat,
captained by Billy Tyne (George Clooney) has fallen upon
hard times recently, with the catch being down, especially
for someone with Tyne's standards. Tyne feels pressured to
go out and, in a way, prove himself to the owner of the
company, his crew and himself. He pulls his crew back
together after a scant few days' rest, and they set out onto
the ocean once again. However, what Tyne doesn't know is
that they are headed right into the heart of one of the
largest hurricanes seen in history.
That is the overall plot of the movie, but there are many
other underlying plot twists going on at the same time,
including several with Tyne's crew. This was one of my main
problems with the movie. While the crew was developed, it
seemed very superficial, almost as though we were trying to
find a reason to care for the characters that we never quite
managed to accomplish. Also, as a side effect of this, the
first hour or so of the movie seemed fairly slow, as we did
have to see the plot put into action. However, once we do
get into the general meat of the movie, the plot picks up
fairly quickly. While this movie is based on a true story,
the action scenes work much better than the plot-driven
sequences, mainly because the action scenes are executed so
The action scenes are at the very heart of the movie, and
as such, they should be top-notch. That's almost an
understatement with these, as the attention and care put
into them is very noticeable. But, as I stated, I wish that
a little more care had been put into the development of the
story and its characters, as the plot seems almost
book-ended onto the action.
No complaints here. The transfer is impeccable, with the
colors being as deep, dark, and rich as they should be in a
movie-at-sea of this type. The transfer is one of the best
that I have seen, and I have no complaints.
As good as the video is, the audio might be even better.
I could actually feel the shaking when the Andrea Gail heads
into the storm, and this was only one of the points where my
sound system was put through its paces. The dialogue also
came through very well, despite being slightly overshadowed
by the music in some of the bar scenes. Again, an excellent,
almost reference quality audio mix.
When Warner Brothers says "Special Edition", that is
exactly what they mean, as "The Perfect Storm" is loaded to
the figurative rafters with features. First up, I would be
remiss for not mentioning the great full-motion menus that
lead us into the movie. The disc opens with what is almost a
teaser trailer for the movie itself that is very impressive,
as are all the menus on the disc.
We then move on to the fairly standard cast and crew
section with the movie listings that appear to have been
lifted verbatim off IMDB. Almost a standard feature at this
point, as no new territory is broached here.
We then move onto not one, not two, but three separate
commentary tracks. The first commentary track is with
director Wolfgang Petersen. Petersen is very animated in
discussing this movie, relating anecdotes about the
location, the actors and other details about the movie.
Listening to this track, we can tell that he enjoyed making
the movie, and that he is happy to have the chance to talk
about it. The second commentary track is with visual effects
supervisor Stefen Fangmeier and visual effects producer
Helen Elswit. I'm generally not a big fan of commentaries
with people that have such a limited role in the movie, but
in the case of The Perfect Storm, visual effects play a
major role. As such, Fangmeier and Elswit tend to have a lot
to talk about, including the production of the major storm
sequences. The final commentary track is with the writer of
the book The Perfect Storm, and co-writer of the movie,
Sebastian Junger. For me, this was the most interesting
track, because Junger has the advantage of not only working
on the movie, but also of writing the book, so he has an
absolutely extensive knowledge of the Andrea Gail and its
crew, and he articulates it very well. Together, these three
tracks comprise a very authoritative and informative view of
how the movie was put together.
Next up is a series of several documentaries about the
making of the movie. First is the HBO First-Look Special
"Creating the Perfect Storm." As with the majority of the
HBO First-Look Specials, this tends to be promotional, but
there is also some interesting information within it, such
as interviews with the relatives of the actual crew members
of the Andrea Gail, and a look at how ILM created some of
the storms within the movie. Not as promotional and fluffy
as some of the HBO First-Looks and definitely not a waste of
time, this was a very interesting documentary to watch.
"Witnesses to the Storm" is a fairly short interview segment
with some of the locals in Gloucester that were present in
1991 when the storm took place. The piece is not at all
promotional and is a very nice addition to the disc, giving
some additional background information as to what the people
that actually lived it felt. "Creating an Emotion" was an
especially nice addition, as one of the major things that
struck me about the movie was how powerful James Horner's
score was. It was very nice to get this behind-the-scenes
look at how the score was developed.
There are also some other interesting features included
on the disc. The first is a series of conceptual art shots,
which were put together before the movie started filming.
While these generally do not interest me that much, the
commentary by Wolfgang Petersen helped, as he described each
painting, and its relevance to the movie. Next is a photo
montage of stills from the movie, set to the theme to "The
Perfect Storm", "Yours Forever" by John Mellencamp. The song
is definitely not one of Mellencamp's better songs, and I
can only guess that there was no video made, hence the
slideshow of stills and the dialogue from the movie woven
into the song a la Bruce Springsteen's "Secret Garden" from
Wrapping up the disc we find the theatrical trailer, a
brief promo for the soundtrack and a series of storyboards
documenting some of the movies more action-filled scenes,
among them the shark attack. This disc is feature-laden, and
will certainly provide a great deal of information and
entertainment to fans of the movie.
While the movie wasn't the masterpiece that I thought it
was going to be, that certainly doesn't take away from the
quality of the disc. This is one of those discs where
everything is done to near-perfection, and I have no
hesitation in giving it a high recommendation.
(3.5/5, NOT included in
(4.5/5, NOT an average)