Movie Review: Annapolis
Went and saw "Annapolis" yesterday with my two teenage sons, while SubBasket and our daughter went and saw "Brokeback Mountain". (girlfriday has a new review of Brokeback Mountain up that gives the perspective of a conservative Idaho woman -- you might be surprised. It just convinces me even more that it's a chick flick.)
Anyway, I went to Annapolis fully expecting to end up giving it "the finger" in my review. Based on the trailer I'd seen, which featured quick shots of ships at sea, I expected a "first year midshipmen are called out to lead the naval attack on a terrorist/white supremicist stronghold" type of movie. Luckily, the trailer was misleading; it ended up being a cross between "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Rocky" ("A Plebe and a Boxer" would have been a more accurate title.)
Storywise, the movie was OK; nothing special, but not bad either. (Kid from wrong side of tracks goes to upscale college, learns he needs to work with his classmates, meets girl, gains respect of upperclassman.) From a "military accuracy" perspective, though, it looks like another movie where they either didn't hire a military technical advisor, or didn't listen to the one they got.
The worst "continuity" error was having the only major commissioned officer character be dressed as a Lieutenant Commander (his nametag said "Lt Cdr", which makes me think the military expert they had was an Army guy), but be referred to by himself, and others, as a "Lieutenant". The ribbons people wore were at least in the right order, but mostly inappropriate for that persons level of seniority and/or warfare community. Regarding the interactions between the midshipmen, it was all straight out of central casting. There was the stereotypical sadistic upperclassman who enjoyed tormenting the plebes, who eventually gets his comeuppance. There were the misfit freshman who have to come together to overcome their tormentors. They even had a scene where a plebe had to complete the obstacle course or they'd get kicked out -- instead of a woman, it was an African-American man in the "Seegar" role.
I was most interested to see the reaction of what the Navy (which didn't officially support the film) probably hopes is the target demographic: high school students who might be interested in going to the Academy. It turns out my oldest son is in that group; he said that the film made him realize how tough the Academy could be, and probably "less likely" to want to attend. (From my perspective, that's an upcheck.) I explained to him that while the movie made it seem as though upperclass midshipmen were very powerful and mean, and that they may perceive of themselves as such, in truth all they are is 21 year old jerks without any real-world experience. Let's face it -- when they finally graduate, after four years of being told that they're the "best and the brightest" they become: Ensigns. And we all know that the only thing more worthless to the running of a ship than an Ensign is -- a midshipman. I told him that, if he does go to Annapolis, his biggest challenge should be avoiding laughing in the face of the 20 year old martinet-wannabes as they're yelling at him during his plebe year.
I don't think the movie is doing very well -- this is the only time in my life that my party was the only group in the theater. My younger son, who has no desire to go to Annapolis, thought it was a "pretty good" movie, and gave it 4 out of 5. My oldest gave it a 3.5. For me, the adequacy of the non-military storyline, and positive reviews from the target demographic, convinced me not to give it "the finger". Instead, it gets two stereotypically-hardass midshipman caricatures out of five.
And regarding "Brokeback Mountain" -- I always get in trouble here at home if I make fun of it, so if you see anyone get confused and describe it as "a tender love story between a fugitive wizard and his tempermental hippogriff called "Buckbeak Mountin' ", it wasn't me.
Update 0604 06 Feb: I almost forgot; they also had midshipmen doing navigation exercises where the plebes gave answers of "soandso degrees, 85 minutes" -- not once but multiple times, using numbers for minutes greater than 59 -- without being corrected by the upperclass midshipmen. It may have been a comment from the scriptwriters about how midshipmen are essentially clueless, but I think it was really an indication that the writers were clueless.
Also, I swear I didn't see this StategyPage smack-down of Annapolis before I wrote my review (I think it came out after mine anyway...)