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The Perfect Storm

Year: 2000
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Producer: Barry Levinson
Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C Reilly, William Fitchner, Diane Lane, Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio, Karen Allen, Michael Ironside
It looked like both a special effects blockbuster and a heartfelt 'simple folk' drama and was actually both. Not only that, it handled both very well.

It's based on the true story of a monstrous storm system that developed in 1991 in the Atlantic Ocean when a hurricane collided with two other fronts to produce winds and seas not many meteorologists had ever seen before.

Though Clooney and Wahlberg as the captain and first mate of the Andrea Gail are front and centre in the story (no doubt something to do with their contracts), there were three vessels involved - the Andrea Gail, a sailboat and a coast guard ship.

Cutting edge digital effects provide most of the backdrops with the cast in sound stage tanks, and the result is as thrilling and scary as you'd hope for in a film about a gigantic storm. There's a few 'Star Wars' moments where the images look a little too animated - such as when Captain Billy Tyne (Clooney) is trying to secure the lines on the swinging arms of the ship - but mostly the effects really sell the story.

Like most blockbusters, the character set-up takes up a good part of the film when you're really there to see the big screen spectacle payoff, but it does a better job at that set-up than most films due in part to the casting of accomplished actors in roles that aren't showy or fanciful. It also helps lend the film an air of credibility that it isn't a science fiction or thriller, but a drama that really happened.

The family of the real Tyne didn't agree, suing Warners soon after.

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