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Final Gravity

'Annapolis'
(James Franco, Donnie Wahlberg, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2006 / Touchstone)

Overview: Set against the backdrop of boxing at the Naval Academy, centers on a young man from the wrong side of the tracks whose dream of attending Annapolis becomes a reality.

DVD Verdict: 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 clichs 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. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Commentary by: Director Justin Lin, writer David Collard, editor
Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary
"Plebe Year: The Story of Annapolis" featurette
"The Brigades" - An in-depth look at the boxing sequences, including training, choreography and camera techniques

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