If you read Sebastian Junger’s harrowing true life account The Perfect Storm — which tells of the once in a century weather system that descended on the coast of Gloucester, Mass., in 1991 and laid waste to just about everything in its path, including the swordfishing vessel Andrea Gail — you’ll be struck by two things. First off, (WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD) since the crew of the Andrea Gail, led by Capt. Billy Tyne (played in the film by George Clooney), never made it back to shore and all hands were lost at sea, there is no account of what went on during the voyage, and Junger uses supposition to try and fill in the blanks. Second, that the fate of a pleasure yacht called the Mistral and the Coast Guard’s daring attempts to rescue her three person crew is so much more vivid, thanks to first person reports of survivors, and the true sense of drama provided by hard facts.
Ultimately, director Wolfgang Petersen’s ”The Perfect Storm” remains far from a perfect film because of the decision to focus on the fictitious, toothless conflicts on board the Andrea Gail; the obvious choice, as the doomed ship story line offers the no brainer lead role for a star like Clooney, and the wrong one. Here is the case of an utterly riveting book that never should’ve been made into a movie. It also doesn’t help that for the last hour, her crew has nothing to do but drown in terrifically stunning computer generated seascapes. You know how Eskimos have, like, a hundred different words for snow? ”The Perfect Storm” has a hundred different shades of wet.
The DVD, on the other hand, has everything you’ve come to expect from a Warner release of a summer blockbuster: top notch audio and video transfers, documentaries (including testimonials from folks who survived the storm and footage of Gloucester under siege), storyboards, a photo montage and conceptual art gallery, and theatrical trailers. It even features three separate commentaries — one from Petersen, another from visual effects maestros Stefen Fangmeier and Helen Elswit, and the last from Junger himself — so that you can appreciate the making of the film from every conceivable angle. All in all, a wonderful DVD edition of a film that doesn’t really deserve it.
Bonus Features: B+