Annapolis Movie Review
Trite but harmless, "Annapolis" follows the adventures of one young loser trying to achieve his dreams - of becoming a West Point graduate. No, there's nothing bad about graduating from the prestigious school, but the main character, played by James Franco, is so full of himself that he does his best not to succeed every step of the way. Of course, his commanding officer (or drill sargeant or whatever they are called at West Point) sees something in him, even though the audience doesn't.
"Annapolis" is your pretty standard fare, an underdog story about a working kid who rises up to become something "better." Physically strong but mentally inconsistent (and by that I mean book dumb), he is facing a huge uphill battle, but that doesn't stop him from winning, getting the girl (who is also one of his teachers, strangely enough), establishing a relationship with his father and punching his way to a boxing championship.
Those who saw the previews for this flick were probably pretty underwhelmed, despite a big explosion scene that is amazingly no where to be found in the movie. "Annapolis" is surprisingly decent, but only because it plays it safe to the point where you can't really find anything disastrously wrong with it. Franco does a good job despite his cut-of-the-mill character, and, given his looks and tenacity, was, admittedly, a pretty good choice for the role. The movie has a decent supporting cast consisting of Donnie Wahlberg, Chi McBride and Tyrese Gibson, though none of the actors are really used to their potential.
One of the movie's biggest shortcomings is its logic gaps, of which there are several. Most are inconsequential, but a few just don't make any sense. In one scene, a recruit tattletales on his roommate for a completely insignificant thing, and then the two get into a fight in front of their commanding officer. In another scene, Franco blindsides his commanding officer. What are these people thinking? Are they the dumbest recruits in the history of the military? But the real winner is the lackluster romance between Franco and one of his instructors, played by Jordana Brewster. You can't fault Franco for having the hots for her, but why would Brewster's character get involved with someone at the school? It just isn't realistic.
The movie's other shortcoming is its focus on the boxing. After a while, "Annapolis" turns into nothing more than a below-average boxing film, as the film's climax is centered around a fight between Franco and Gibsen. "Annapolis" never shows Franco developing his book skills, but instead focuses entirely on him developing his brute strength, which was never much of a problem to begin with.
"Annapolis" is your standard underdog story that has some good moments and some bad moments. A few things don't make much sense and director Justin Lin (following up his absolutely excellent "Better Luck Tomorrow") focuses on all the wrong things, but it ultimately is a harmless film. Not recommended, but you won't slit your throat over it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.