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HTF REVIEW: "Antwone Fisher" (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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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
soundtrack.


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
Commander
), 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
 

Lew Crippen

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

ChuckDeLa

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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.
 

ChrisMatson

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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.
 

Yumbo

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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.

Cheers
 

Robert Crawford

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:rolleyes

Anyhow, great review Ronbo. I cried like a baby too when I watched this film during it's theatrical run.:)
 

Yumbo

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Crawdaddy,

what's up? :D

I'll keep some tissues handy. :frowning:
 

CoreyII

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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?
 

Ronald Epstein

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Yes I do, Corey.

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

Yumbo

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ws version = cover art (normally)

will chime in next Monday.
 

John_McKittrick

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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.

John
 

Yumbo

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hmmm,

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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