Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

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.

Going deep...

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...)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I'm going to Netflix it, and probably keep it at the bottom of the queu.

-former XO's wife

2/05/2006 9:03 AM

Anonymous Subbasket said...

Chic Flick he says...Not exactly the topic I would pick for a chic flick but if "tiny bubbles" feels it is then since he knows all things and feels judging something without seeing it is fair then I guess HE will be in bed tonight by himself or better yet in the cat box with the smell of Herc the Jerk(cat that his way with blankets)...I am VERY upset with him at this moment and I do not feel he is worth to sleep by me tonight and a Longaberger basket will NOT even come close to fixing this situation...Maybe 4,5, or even 6 baskets might fix it...

2/05/2006 9:37 AM

Anonymous Byron Audler said...

Man, BH, if you want to regain matrimonial bliss, you might want to consider granting Subbasket editorial rights over your articles...if such a thing as "matrimonial bliss" is ever a sustainable state...

says he, with 13 years of "matrimonial bliss" behind him, and every one of him spent with one eye over my shoulder, for the next sin I commit...

2/05/2006 10:49 AM

Blogger MT1(SS) said...

Thanks for the review, bubblehead. Regarding Brokeback, I strongly recommend taking a gander at Brokeback to the Future.

2/05/2006 1:19 PM

Anonymous Drew said...

So, it's not exactly Top Gun for this generation?

I was a junior in HS when Top Gun came out and was actually in my school's NJROTC program. Top Gun was a big hit with my cohort.

Except for best friend was few years ahead of me and was actually at Annapolis. He had already gone through some pre-flight training program and was set to go aviation. He saw Top Gun and decided he was going for it for all the wrong reasons and switched to Surface Warfare. I am pretty sure he's the only guy who came out of Top Gun who could have actually been a pilot, sorry Naval Aviator, but changed his mind after seeing that movie.

Last time we caught up he was XO of a destroyer and loving life. Guess it worked out.

2/05/2006 6:08 PM

Blogger Jeb said...

I'm the "Idaho woman" (Girlfriday's sister in law) who wrote on "Brokeback" - and yes, I think you could call BbM a "chick flick" without being too far off the mark. I mean let's be honest, why would the average heterosexual guy want to see this? I mean, it's good, like I said - but well, it's probably akin to the way I feel about all the Rocky movies after the first one. As woman, I say, "WHY?"

I read your review of "Annapolis" and wanted to see if my Air Force upbringing (Dad was in 25 years) had prepped me for understanding your comment on the Lt.Cmdr. being called "Lieutenant" - he'd be called "Commander," instead? In the Air Force a Lt. Col. is called Col.; not Lt.

2/06/2006 4:16 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

BH, the Army is this country's "senior service." To understand the unfortunate history of this status, I recommend reviewing the history of the A-bomb's development, in which the Navy carried the water and the Army then had Roosevelt eliminate them (before credit was due).

If anyone thinks this is too old to be relevant, consider it was in 1943 that the nuclear torpedo was conceived. -Vigilis

2/06/2006 4:20 PM

Blogger girlfriday said...

Wow, impressive Jeb. I hadn't even picked up on that part of the post.

Though this did butter me up to see Annapolis. Unlike some I have a soft spot in my heart for Rocky.

2/06/2006 11:47 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

That's correct; traditionally, you shorten the rank to give a higher rank, not a lower one (wouldn't want to call a Lieutenant General "Lieutenant"). I see you're in Meridian -- did you go to the Majestic? We're really glad they built it.

2/07/2006 12:29 AM


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