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Movie Review: Ali

Story: This film is a knockout! It is what movie making is all about. Once again, director Michael Mann (The Insider) hits a bull's eye. The first half hour of the film is just about perfect. I was totally engrossed and transported. Mohammed Ali enjoys adulation these days but, as you know, it was not always so. This film covers the tumultuous years (1964-1974) where he fights for his heavy weight title, fights the US Government over his refusal to be inducted in the US Army during the Vietnam War, fights the Nation of Islam... yet still manages to maintain his dignity. What a champ! This film is about Ali the total man who has become one of our foremost cultural icons. Ali the fighter, the political activist, the Muslim, the African American and now a hero to millions. Ali always said he was the greatest ... so is this film.

Note: It seems ironic to me that the US Government has just drafted Ali again. Only this time it is to be a spokesman for the Islamic community. The Government has asked him to make a pubic service film explaining Islam to the American public. How times do change....

Acting: I am a fan of Will Smith (Enemy of the State, Six Degrees of Separation, Men in Black) and I thought he was absolutely terrific as Ali. He is not as pretty as Ali, but he was mighty fine to look at anyway. He obviously worked at getting all buffed and toned for this role. He had the grace and intelligence not to turn his character into a cartoon and he looked good in the ring to me. There is a fine supporting cast including an almost unrecognizable Jon Voight as Howard Cosell, Jamie Foxx, Ron Silver, Jeffrey Wright, Nona Gaye and Jada Pinckett Smith.

Critters: None.

Food: Food was not a contender in this fight film. But the fighters got weighed a few times.

Visual Art: I don't remember any.

Blatant Product Placement: Coca Cola

Soundtrack: Terrific.

Opening Titles: Perfect. The opening sequence alone should get some kind of award.

Theater Audience: Almost empty. There was one loon way up front who was laughing and talking to himself. I think he might have thought he had a front row seat at the actual fight.

Predictability Level: Not applicable here, unless of course you had no idea who won the fights.

Tissue Usage: None. But the fight scenes were so real I thought we would need tissues to mop up the fighter's sweat and blood.

Oscar Worthy: Absolutely.

Nit Picking: It was 15 minutes too long.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure. You need to hear all of the thuds and pops in the fight scenes. You might want to rent When We Were Kings, the 1996 documentary about the Rumble in the Jungle fight.

Length: Two and one half hours (I know, I know, it is over the LOBO rule ... but it was so good, I didn't care)