Retro Review: Annapolis

What is it with Hollywood’s fascination with boxing and equalizing of the squared-circle? Where two men enter and one man leaves.

Since practically the dawn of film, boxing films have enthralled fans in all sorts of ways. Over 250 films over the course of Hollywood history have embraced this sport and some of the many classics include 1931’s “The Champ”, 1976’s “Rocky” and lately 2000’s “Billy Elliot”.

Which brings me to Annapolis, the film took me somewhat by surprise with its central storyline of a shipbuilder’s son, Jake Huard, (James Franco) who dreams of attending the infamous Naval Academy, Annapolis.

Through some hardships, Jake gets in. The pride of Academy is the yearly boxing tournament where every officer is for one moment equal when they step into the squared circle. This year, Jake’s main goal is to make it to the end of the tournament so he can face his bullish commander, Cole (Tyrese Gibson).

Sure the film has some subplots with the out-of-shape roommate (Vicellous Reon Shannon) and a rather desperate attempt at a romantic entanglement (Jordana Brewster) but for the most part the film doesn’t really care and focuses on boxing.

For the first twenty minutes, “Annapolis” tries ever so hard to be a recruitment video which made me shocked that the US Navy didn’t endorse the film. Dreamy eyed Franco trying to find some sort of dramatic footing tells the audience that the reason he is going to Academy is because he promised his dead mother.

After this overly-sentimental opening, the film stumbles around like it’s been walloped in the head a half dozen times by a boxing glove. There are horrendously badly written scenes where Franco is trying to fit in and the film trying to develop more relationships for the character.

The only relationships in the whole film I bought were between Franco and Twins, his out-of-shape roommate and Franco and his lieutenant, played by Donnie Wahlberg. I really like Wahlberg and in some ways it’s a pity he is in this film.

I also liked the film’s boxing scenes but without drama to back it up all you really get is the stench of two sweaty men beating each other senseless.

If you are going to make a movie about boxing would you ever think to set it in a Naval Academy? Furthermore, if you are going to make a movie about a Naval Academy and even title the film after it then why not focus on the skills, training and endurance a cadet has to go through. Then have the film’s hero prove his abusive commander wrong through respect in training not by beating in his enflamed ego.

“Annapolis” to make a long story short, is a renter. Get it on video and enjoy it that way but be warned there is a lot of cheese in here and in some parts you might even be finding yourself saying, “Huh?”.

(2.5 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer

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