HTF REVIEW: "Antwone Fisher" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Apr 29, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Antwone Fisher

    Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
    Year: 2002
    Rated: PG-13
    Film Length: 120 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    Subtitles: English & Spanish

    Inspired by a true story

    Wow! Hand me a tissue! I don't readily like to
    admit this when it happens, but I have just been
    moved to tears by Antwone Fisher, a highly
    enjoyable and touching warm-hearted film that I am
    going to spend the rest of this review talking
    favorably about. Let me dry my eyes first....


    Written and co-produced by Antwone Fisher himself,
    this is the story an angry young man who struggles
    to put his harsh and often violent past behind him
    and move on. The film opens to a dream sequence
    where we find a little boy standing in a sunlit
    field, as his family takes him by the hand and
    welcomes him to a table laid with delectable dishes
    of food and pancakes piled high with melting butter.
    Such happiness can only be found in the farthest
    reaches of Antwone's mind, for when he awakens he
    deals with the harsh realities of a frustrated life.


    Fisher (Derek Luke) has had a very difficult life.
    Born in a Correctional Facility to a drug-addicted
    mother, his father murdered months before he's born,
    Antwone was faced with growing up with an abusive
    Foster Mother named Mrs. Tate (Novella Nelson)
    who spent most of the day berating and abusing the
    boys under her care. Soon he wound up back in an
    orphanage until he was eighteen, then joined the
    Navy in an effort to make something of his life.


    Now at the age of 25, Antwone is a Navy man finding
    himself in constant trouble for fighting with other
    sailors. His disciplinary troubles cause him to
    wind up in the office of a Navy psychiatrist,
    Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington), who through
    various flashbacks, begins to learn the terrible
    ordeals of Antwone's childhood. Davenport urges
    Antwone to channel his anger toward more positive
    things, and soon, we find the young man striking up
    a relationship with Cheryl (Joy Bryant), who
    ultimately becomes his most trustworthy friend,
    offering balance to his life.

    Davenport feels that Antwone needs to find closure
    in locating his original family. With that, Antwone
    and Cheryl go on a quest to find fulfill Fisher’s
    dream and find the family that he never knew. The
    results of this journey, I guarantee, will bring
    a river of tears to your eyes.


    Just the fact that Antwone Fisher is based
    on a true story makes this film even more of an
    uplifting experience. Think it's sort of odd that
    Antwone himself co-produced this film? Story is,
    he was working as a security guard at Sony Pictures
    Studio 10 years ago when he wrote the story of his
    life. Producer Todd Black saw the story and hired
    Fisher to write the screenplay.

    It's also worthy to note that Antwone Fisher
    features two amazing debutes from in front of and
    behind the camera. This film marks the directorial
    debut of Denzel Washington, who proves himself to be
    a confident director who remains focused, telling
    this story with the utmost dignity. Then there's
    newcomer Derek Luke who went from working in a gift
    shop to starring in this major motion picture. Derek
    was a perfect casting choice -- he gives us a worthy
    heartfelt performance.

    How is the transfer?

    In a word -- amazing! Fox has given us an absolute
    crisp transfer that is so perfect in every aspect
    that I find absolutely no faults. While watching
    this film, I could not help but to be impressed with
    the crispness of this transfer. Images are razor-sharp,
    sporting outstanding image detail and sharpness.
    Black levels are virtually perfect and there is not
    a speck of background noise or grain. This is one
    of those rare moments where you can see real texture
    and depth within the transfer.


    The film's Dolby Digital soundtrack reproduces the
    film's original audio tracks with superb fidelity
    and dynamics. The use of surrounds is rather limited,
    used mostly for ambient sounds (such as wind rolling
    through a field or various weather elements). This
    soundtrack effectively brings out the best two
    most important ingredients of this film -- the
    actors' dialogue and Mychael Danna's stirring

    Special Features


    First up is the feature-length commentary by
    Denzel Washington and producer Todd Black which rolls
    along very well. Both men provide a truckload worth
    of information about the casting of the film, finding
    the various locales, and all the technical stuff
    in between. Most of the filming took place in both
    Cleveland and San Diego in real locations, including
    A Naval base. The department of the Navy was very
    cooperative in letting the filmmakers get past
    heightened security and use their premises to make
    this film. Producer Todd Black gives praise to
    Denzel not only for his directorial talents, but
    the ability to take the advice of people who were
    working on this film with him -- using their ideas
    to make this film work better. Throughout this
    commentary both Denzel and Todd share humorous
    stories about some of the unexpected difficulties
    they had during filming. This is a commentary that
    flows very well, and from the segments I heard, seems
    to be quite an interesting and entertaining dialogue.


    This was nice! Meeting Antwone Fisher brings
    us face-to-face with the real person whose life
    story is the basis of this film. Antwone refers to the
    Navy as his first "real" home of his own choosing.
    He talks fondly about his Naval experience and the
    fact that they helped him deal with his anger, making
    him a better person. It seems that Antwone's first
    real taste of self-confidence was during a Naval
    exercise where he successfully helped land a
    helicopter aboard a moving ship. Producer Todd
    Black talks about meeting Antwone as a security
    guard at Sony Pictures. Todd Black ended up giving
    Antwone an office where he encouraged him to complete
    his screenplay. One year and 41 drafts later, a
    screenplay was finally completed, and the rest (as
    they say in showbiz) is history.
    (length: approx. 14 minutes)


    The making of Antwone Fisher could easily
    be mistaken for one of those standard fluff-pieces,
    but its the human side of this story that keeps you
    well interested throughout. It's amazing to hear
    how well Denzel Washington handled his first gig
    at directing. Both he and producer Todd Black had
    the same exact vision as to how this film should be
    made. Denzel made all the important decisions
    including selecting the locales, costumes and cast.
    Most interesting to hear is that Antwone Fisher
    and the man who would portray him, Derek Luke, knew
    each other while both worked on the studio lot long
    before this film became a reality. Denzel tells us
    a very warm story about Derek Luke's audition and
    the manner in which Derek learned he had finally
    gotten the role of a lifetime. We also hear from
    actress Joy Bryant, who talks about reading the
    script, her audition, and the resulting chemistry
    between her and Derek Luke. This is one of the
    absolute few "making of" featurettes you will ever
    see me recommend as a MUST SEE!
    (length: approx. 22 minutes)


    A Hollywood and the Navy featurette introduces
    us to Lt. Tanya Wallace who talks about the assistance
    that her department gives to filmmakers wishing to
    make films in cooperation with the Navy. Because
    of the events of 9/11, access to sites were very
    difficult, but nonetheless the Navy did everything
    they could to accommodate the filmmakers. There
    was even a casting call held on the ship for extras
    as well as a few speaking parts. Very cool watch!
    (length: approx. 4 minutes)

    With what could have been the PERFECT DVD comes
    my first major (and only) gripe. Why on earth
    did Fox choose not to include the film's original
    trailer here? I'll tell you why. The studio
    cross-promoted this title with DrumLine, thus
    that film's trailer is included here (along
    with Le Divorce, In America and Master and
    ), and the Antwone Fisher trailer
    can be found on the DrumLine DVD. I know
    Fox reads these reviews and I hope I can urge the
    studio not to continue with this practice. Those
    of us that buy a particular title don't want to find
    that film's original trailer has been put on another
    DVD release.

    Final Thoughts


    Antwone Fisher is a heartwarming must-see film and
    obviously a rousing triumph for Oscar-winner Denzel
    Washington. It is not often that a film can move
    me to tears -- and trust me, during the film's final
    15 minutes I went through quite a few tissues.

    Fox has provided not only an outstanding transfer
    here, but the opportunity to meet and get to know
    the real man whose story this film is based upon.

    I am placing this film as a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
    release. It is a DVD that should not be ignored.

    Release Date: May 20, 2003

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    Thanks Ron. I missed this during its theatrical run. After your review, I’ll not be guilty the second time.
  3. ChuckDeLa

    ChuckDeLa Cinematographer

    Nov 26, 2002
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    It wasn't a brilliant or groundbreaking film, but it was very well done, and brought tears to my eyes as well. Great performances all around. I'll probably rent this one to watch it again, and see the extras.
  4. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

    Dec 14, 2000
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    I highly recommend this movie. I'm looking forward to the special features. What a fascinating story--and it's true!

    Thanks for the review.
  5. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    looks like a SS disc - great! Thanks Fox.

    Ron - the SCORE is by MYCHAEL Danna.

    soundtrack includes all the sounds.

    soundtrack CD is the other term used in general.

    sorry to be nitpicky, but scores get short shrift because of this.

  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Real Name:


    Anyhow, great review Ronbo. I cried like a baby too when I watched this film during it's theatrical run.[​IMG]
  7. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    what's up? [​IMG]

    I'll keep some tissues handy. [​IMG]
  8. CoreyII

    CoreyII Second Unit

    May 15, 1999
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    So, Ron, picking up from the March, 25 "Drumline" post, I must ask you, do you still think "Drumline" is the feel god picture of the year?
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Yes I do, Corey.

    Nothing I have seen since has made me feel
    the same way.
  10. CoreyII

    CoreyII Second Unit

    May 15, 1999
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  11. Augustin Rodriguez

    Sep 18, 1999
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    Did the disc itself have cover art or was it plain with lettering on one side and not on the other? Thanks.

  12. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    ws version = cover art (normally)

    will chime in next Monday.
  13. John_McKittrick

    John_McKittrick Stunt Coordinator

    Nov 9, 1999
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    I saw this film on a plane when I was flying to Atlanta.

    The movie is excellent and told very well, but it is a rental only.

    No oscars for Denzel here.

  14. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    I have to say different about the video.

    I see EE, a soft pic. Otherwise it's fine. Sound is also low.

    still watching, and will hold further comment.

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