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What you are about to read is the studio synopsis of what Ali is all about.
With wit and athletic genius, with defiant rage and inner grace, Muhammad Ali forever changed the American landscape. Fighting all comers, Ali took on the law, conventions, the status quo and the war - as well as the fists in front of him. Ali both ignited and mirrored the conflicts of his time and ours to become one of the most admired fighters in the world. Forget what you think you know.
What it says from the studios up above there...that is right on the money. Ali covers all that is laid out above. However (and let's see how quickly I can annoy you), Ali is not Best Picture of the year material...it's not even close.
That should get some people pretty peeved. I came out of the theatre, after 2 hours and 47 minutes and the crowd seemed to be two things. Subdued was one. The second was quietly discussing how great this film is. Well they are right and they are wrong.
They are right because they have just witnessed the performance of Will Smith's career which IS saying a lot because he has given us comedy, action and Six Degrees of Separation. The man moves easily from genre to genre and with a lot on the line for his portrayal Will Smith busts his ass and should be appreciated for it.
They are right because two stunning supporting performances come out of nowhere within the film and almost (almost) blow Will Smith off the screen. Jon Voight is on the mark and unrecognizable as Howard Cosell and Jamie Foxx (whom I have despised for every bit of acting including Any Given Sunday) just made me not only eat my words but it was stuffed down my throat alongside Voight/Cosell's toupee.
They are right because the footage of the fight scenes almost ranks with Raging Bull on intensity and tops out Sylvester Stallone's Rocky thaks to having reality on it's side...I still like Rocky...just thought these fight scenes were better, sorry Adrian.
Now...where are they wrong? The reasons I feel it should be snubbed for a Best Pic nominee (and who is a critic to say, really?) The first hour of the movie, aside from the stunning Sonny Liston/Ali fight, is a mess. The movie doesn't know where to focus (hint: Ali) and runs from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King Jr. to those who surround Ali but never is the first hour truly about Ali. In fact, the movie picks up steam in the last hour and 47 minutes once Malcolm X gets assassinated simply because the script now knows where to concentrate.
The problem with the script here is that unless one has read a lot about Ali there are hundreds of unanswered questions. The main one is Why? Why does Ali fight? Why does he becomes such fast friends with Malcolm X (and later) why does he so quickly walk away from him?
For those who have seen When We Were Kings (a bloody great documentary - see above price chart) the ending of Ali shall come as no surprise but the accuracy of which director Michael Mann has recreated this moment in history and detailed some of the dark back stage events makes for a truly rousing finale...it's just sad that they lost me for so long in the beginning.
A ranking? Well, Ali goes 11 rounds out of 15...a solid enough 3 and a half stars.
Copyright© Written By: Rob Paul
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Stereo
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