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TOUCHSTONE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Justin Lin
Cast:
James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Donnie Wahlberg, Jordana Brewster, McCaleb Burnett, Chi McBride, Wilmer Calderon, Jimmy Yi Fu Li, Macka Foley, Jim Parrack
Writing Credits:
David Collard

Tagline:
50,000 Apply. 1,200 Are Accepted. Only The Best Survive.

Synopsis:
Filled with intense action, Annapolis is an inspirational tale of courage and honor that will keep you riveted. As hard as it is to get into the most elite military academy in the country, surviving behind its walls is beyond belief. Young Jake Huard (James Franco) has always known he has what it takes to make the grade. But once inside, everything Jake thought he knew is challenged in ways he never could have imagined. Standing between him and his lifelong ambition of becoming an officer in the U.S. Navy is his company commander - Midshipman Lt. Cole (Tyrese Gibson), a relentless and merciless battle-seasoned Marine. Thrilling and exhilarating, Annapolis reaffirms the power of believing in your dreams.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$7.681 million on 1605 screens.
Domestic Gross
$17.119 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 103 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 6/27/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Justin Lin, Writer Dave Collard and Editor Fred Raskin
• “Plebe Year: The Story of Annapolis” Featurette
• “The Brigades”  Featurette
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Sneak Peeks


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RELATED REVIEWS


Annapolis (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 5, 2006)

Most people look at sequels and remakes as signs that Hollywood is perilously low on ideas. While those trends certainly create a clear case, I don’t think we should ignore movies like 2006’s Annapolis. Essentially little more than a combination of other, more successful efforts, this flick does little to make a name for itself.

We meet Jake Huard (James Franco), a blue collar construction worker who lives in the Annapolis area. He also pursues boxing and badly wants to get into the United States Naval Academy. Despite his less than stellar scores and grades, Jake pesters his congressman into giving him a recommendation, and he manages to get into the academy.

When he arrives, Jake goes through rigorous training and also encounters a surprise. During his pre-entrance party with friends, he tried to pick up a hot babe named Ali (Jordana Brewster). He fails, and when he gets to the academy, he learns that she’s one of his student instructors.

Zoinks! Jake also runs into Midshipman Lt. Cole (Tyrese Gibson), a hard-assed company commander who makes his life difficult. We watch Jake’s attempts to adapt to this rigorous life and all his ups and downs. We also follow his training for the Brigades, a boxing tournament where he hopes to show his stuff – and get back at Cole.

Let’s see… tough black guy runs hunky blue collar white dude through the paces… where have I seen that? When I first checked out the trailer for Annapolis, I noticed those less-than-subtle allusions to An Officer and a Gentleman, and nothing in the movie itself manages to make these connects less obvious.

Of course, Annapolis doesn’t halt its rip-offs there. Instructor with whom the lead has a romance? Check - Top Gun! Fat cadet who can’t hack it? Check - Full Metal Jacket! Disapproving father who comes around at the end? Check - Breaking Away! Good-looking loner who learns to value his teammates? Check – eight million different places!

And so it goes. Virtually all the roles are tired and trite. Annapolis is the kind of movie where you know you’ll meet a character named “Jake” before it even starts. Movies like this always have to have a “Jake”, and everything else about the flick follows similarly predictable lines.

The odd part about Annapolis is that it can’t decide which clichés to follow. It starts as a simple Officer and a Gentleman retread but suddenly decides it’d rather be Rocky after a while. Though I’m not sure which Rocky it prefers. The “rise of the underdog” story goes back to the original flick, but as a boxing villain, Cole has more of a Drago feel to me. In the middle of his many sneers, I really expected him to utter, “I must break you!”

All of this leads to a really muddled story. Annapolis isn’t just unsure of where’s going; it also doesn’t even seem to know where it’s been. It flits from one stop to another with little consistency or logic, and it never manages to explore anything in a vaguely satisfying manner. It just throws up simplistic morals and characters as it plods to its inevitable conclusion.

I can’t fault the actors, though, as they give this clunker their best. Franco needs to back off his James Dean schtick, but he nonetheless brings out some spark as Jake. Stuck in a barely one-dimensional role, Gibson provides the strongest performance of all. He avoids the loud, overbearing Lou Gossett/Lee Ermey approach to the part and makes Cole scary in a quiet, understated manner. He provides a surprisingly effective turn in an underwritten part.

The best performances in the world can’t save the muddled mess that is Annapolis, though. A goofy melange of movie influences with no personality of its own, the flick collapses under the weight of its own inanity.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Annapolis appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite some good-looking elements, this transfer often remained subpar.

The image displayed more than a few noisy shots. It lacked any signs of source flaws, but it suffered from a grainy impression much of the time. Moderate edge enhancement appeared, and that made the movie look soft and ill-defined on more than a few occasions. Much of the flick was acceptably concise, but too many distractions from softness occurred.

Colors were decent. The movie went with a subdued, somewhat desaturated look that came across fine here. The tones were acceptably defined. Unfortunately, blacks tended to be too dark, while shadows were somewhat thick and murky. Enough of the film seemed attractive to muster a “C”, but I saw many more concerns than I expected from a brand-new transfer.

While nothing special, at least the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Annapolis outdid the visuals. The soundfield came to life mainly during the boxing scenes. We got a few other moderately lively sequences such as a rainstorm, but usually the track stayed with general ambience when it didn’t enter the ring. The fights were reasonably involving as they brought us into the action. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the audio left us with an overall nice impression of the film’s environments.

For the most part, sound quality was positive. Music occasionally came across as a bit lackluster. Some of the score and songs appeared a bit lacking in their low-end. Nonetheless, they usually presented good dynamics, and effects offered solid clarity and range. Speech also seemed natural and concise. There wasn’t anything about this mix that excelled, but it was more than competent.

As we move to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Justin Lin, writer Dave Collard and editor Fred Raskin. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion. They go over the project’s genesis and development, its use of sports as a metaphor, cast and crew, and characters and training. We also learn about music, editing and alterations from the original script, research in Annapolis and shooting in Philadelphia, and how the relative inexperience of the crew affected the production.

The guys maintain a light tone throughout the commentary and make their chat a lot of fun. They joke with each other and offer many funny little stories about their experiences. I may not have liked their movie, but their commentary is very enjoyable and informative.

Next come two featurettes. Plebe Year: The Story of Annapolis goes for 11 minutes, five seconds as it mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Lin, Collard, producers Mark Vahradian and Damien Saccani, executive producer Steve Nicolaides, technical advisor Scott D. Carson, co-producer Gym Hinderer, and actors James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, and Jordana Brewster. The program looks at the story’s path to the screen and its development, why Lin got the gig, casting and the actors’ training.

You won’t find much concrete information in this puffy featurette. It talks about how special all involved and the project are but doesn’t give us many interesting tidbits. This is a superficial show without much merit.

A 10-minute and 15-second piece called The Brigades includes notes from Collard, Franco, Lin, Gibson, stunt coordinator Nick Powell, director of photography Phil Abraham, and boxing consultant Macka Foley. The program gives us information about the boxing tournament highlighted in the film. We learn a little background about the Brigades and how they mesh within the film. We also find out about fight choreography, training, and shooting those scenes.

Some decent notes pop up here and make this one worth a look. It’s not a deep program, but it’s certainly better than “Plebe Year”. It includes a smattering of good elements and gives us a passable examination of the movie’s boxing segments.

Seven Deleted Scenes run a total of 11 minutes, 55 seconds. “I-Day” (five minutes, one second) is an extended version of the plebe’s first day, while “Cell Phone Montage” (0:55) shows Cole’s initial training session with the new cadets. “Swimming Pool” (1:32) gets into the plebes during a diving exercise and adds a little to the Loo and dshdjksa characters. “Penny Sweating/Risa Thanks Jake” (1:40) follows up on the drill during which Jake bailed out a female plebe, and “Smoker at the Graveyard” (1:02) shows Jake as he mourns his dead mother. “Contagious Sloppiness” (0:47) depicts more of the abuse Cole heaps at Jake, while “Comatose Twins” (0:55) looks at how that character’s suicide attempt motivates Jake. None of these addition seem substantial, as most just reinforce existing notions in a redundant manner.

We can view these with or without commentary from Lin, Collard and Raskin. They give us a mix of production notes as well as let us know why the scenes failed to make the final cut. We find good information here along with some funny comments such as the story about the Philly Teamster who would kill for M. Night Shyamalan.

The disc begins with ads for releases of Apocalypto, Goal! The Dream Begins, and Stick It. In addition, all of these and previews for The Shaggy Dog, and Grey’s Anatomy appear in the Sneak Peeks section.

The script for Annapolis must look like a menu at an Asian restaurant: one from Column A, one from Column B, and so on. It packages overt lifts from other movies into one incoherent, rambling piece of cinematic plagiarism. The DVD comes with good audio and some decent extras, but it suffers from problematic picture. Not that it matters, as even a reference quality transfer wouldn’t prompt a recommendation for this stinker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.909 Stars Number of Votes: 11
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main