I wanted to like Annapolis. I really did. I appreciated the intent of the film without having a full awareness of what it was about. I thought it kind of served as a de facto publicity film for the Naval Academy. But as I was watching it, several things started on course for me to dislike the film.
First, the story is tremendously predictable. Huard (James Franco, Spider-Man) is a kid who has been raised on the wrong side of the tracks, and helps to build the ships that the …avy uses, and does it across the river from the Academy. He receives a Congressional exception to join the academy (because, well, it’s not really explained why, other than because his mom died?), and he gets there and finds that life isn’t what he thought it would be. He clashes frequently with Cole (Tyrese Gibson, Four Brothers), who has served in battle and knows what it takes to be an officer, but Huard also gains support with Burton (Donnie Wahlberg, Band of Brothers) and Ali (Jordana Brewster, D.E.B.S.). Huard is a bit of a boxer, and the Academy conveniently prides itself on this particular intramural, and he tries to do what he can to face Cole in the Academy boxing tournament.
About a half hour into the film, I gave my wife a list of things that I thought would happen between that point and the end of the film, which wasn’t for another hour. Not surprisingly, I was right on most of them. Because I’ve watched An Officer and a Gentleman, I had a pretty good idea of how things would pan out. Now, the gaps of incredulity were big enough for someone to drive a Corps of Cadets through, for God’s sake. Congressional exceptions are tough to get, and I’ve read about a Presidential exception, but come on, at least put some thought (or a substantive reason) behind why Huard got this thing! Also, Huard did some things that quite frankly, would have got him kicked out a long time ago. You’ve got fraternization, along with assaulting a superior officer (Gibson), outside of the boxing ring, of course.
Then there’s the thing that REALLY bugged me. Why center the film around Annapolis when it’s not even filmed there?!?!? I know, I know, logistics probably stopped that from reasonably happening, but the film didn’t even set foot in Maryland. And I guess because the title Philadelphia was already taken, calling it Naval Academy or something generic probably wouldn’t fly either.
Annapolis sports a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation that borders on distracting. The color palette is reproduced OK, but the flesh tones are a little bit blown out. Or maybe that’s because Franco normally looks that pasty. The whites also look a little bit out there, but not as much as the flesh tones. This just came out this year for god’s sake, have some judgment!
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack sounds pretty good for the most part. The problem with the film was that almost everyone would recite their lines in near hushed tones, and then when a scene with ambient sounds would play, I’d have to readjust my volume settings because my receiver was already turned up for the soft dialogue. Still, everything is reproduced well, and the boxing scenes sport some low end fidelity, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Starting things off, there’s a commentary with director Justin Lin (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), writer David Collard Out of Time and Editor Fred Raskin. The three are pretty jovial together and have some pretty good memories about the film. The strack stays pretty active throughout, and it’s clear that this must have been recorded just before the film’s release. Following that are 7 deleted and alternate scenes (with optional commentary), that run about 12 minutes in length, along with a couple of making-of featurettes that are about 10 minutes each in length. The first is your usual EPK with interviews by the cast and crew on their thoughts on the film, the second covers the choreography and production of the boxing championships.
I may be looking at Annapolis from the skewered eye of a former serviceman, but I hate the Navy, and even I was bored by this movie. But hey, it’s got pretty people in it and a storyline compelling enough for those who haven’t seen it before to enjoy, so if you’re under 25, check it out.
Special Features List
- Director Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Making of Featurettes