The Good

A solidly done movie that seemed more concerned with the characters than is usually the case.

The Bad

Overall, this movie lacked the "militaryness" that you expect military films to have.

I didn't see Annapolis in the theater simply because going to movies is such an ordeal sometimes (and I usually have a ton of DVDs to watch) that it just didn't happen. While I am not kicking myself for not seeing this movie on the big screen, I am surprised that it wasn't received better. Sure, I think the boxing scenes could have used more work, but as a boxing aficionado very few movies really capture the game.

Annapolis is the story of Jake Huard (James Franco), a young guy who has always wanted more for himself. So when he has the chance to leave a job building ships to train and become an officer on one, this is a chance that he takes at Annapolis. However, this is a very tough school made even tougher by Midshipman Lt. Cole (Tyrese Gibson) but bearable by Ali (Jordana Brewster). Eventually, Huard proves himself in "The Brigades," a boxing tournament that sees him go head to head with Tyrese Gibson.

For the record, I felt the decision in the final fight was the right one.

Features

Plebe Year

A pretty standard "making of" is essentially what this segment is. We hear from the producers, director and some of the cast as they discuss working on this movie and why they wanted to make it. What it essentially it boils down to is telling the story of Huard's journey and using the metaphor of boxing to get it across.

The Brigades

I was actually really looking forward to this because having made a low budget boxing movie of my own, I was curious to see how the big boys put these kinds of scenes together. This featurette shows the actors training, choreographing the scenes and also how the camera becomes like another person in the squared circle.

Deleted Scenes

There are a bunch of scenes here that were basically taken out of the film for time purposes. These also feature an optional commentary track with Justin Lin and the films screenwriter Dave Collard and it's editor Fred Raskin. These three guys are having a good time here as they joke about the deleted scenes, but they also give thoughtful reasons for why they were or weren't used.

Commentary Track

Justin Lin, Dave Collard and Fred Raskin have laughs as they talk about the movie during this commentary track. They mention when this track was recorded how they'd just delivered the film to Disney earlier that day, how the film got made, the way Annapolis s and pretty much everything else related to this school and the shoot.

Video

Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. The biggest problem with this movie's look is that it is very traditional and then once "The Brigades" start, it feels the need to become like a music video. For me, this was my biggest letdown because I had hoped that Lin's mostly classical approach, would make for realistic fight scenes. They didn't look bad they just didn't have the same emotional reality as the rest of the film.

Audio

Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. French and Spanish subtitles. Aside from James Franco needing to put his moody, method across in everything that he says, I thought the sound on this disc was quite good. Also, Lin and Co. refrained from using victory music all throughout this movie. If anything, this film was perfectly measured (and leveled) to give us just the right amount of ups and downs.

Package

If memory serves, this cover with images of James Franco and Tyrese Gibson is the same one that served as this film's one sheet upon it's theatrical release. Also, ten fighter jets take off underneath them but I don't recall there being any jets in the film. The back offers some shots from the movie (none of which really do it justice), a description of the film's story, a bonus features section/technical specs list, a cast list and some more technical specs.

Final Word

Justin Lin went from making a very low budget film like Better Luck Tomorrow to the big budget world of Annapolis. His ability to straddle both worlds and essentially go from crayons to painting with brushes, is highly impressive. As a director he seems to have a sure hand with both actors and character. In addition to this, he also seems to want to tell bigger stories instead of being relegated to the art theaters of the world.

Ultimately, I think he is going to turn out to be one of our top talents and I think Annapolis clearly proves that.