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Ali Movie Review

“Ali” is the perfect example of a movie that is just way too long.  Sure, it has some great features: Will Smith is a terrific as the energetic and controversial fighter, the photography offers some great shots and scenery, and the fight scenes are beautifully illustrated on the camera.  However, it’s Ali’s personal life that ultimately drags the film on too long and makes it less than what it could have been.

The movie is directed by Michael Mann who is known for creating terrific drama through the use of his characters and their relationships with themselves and each other.  Here, though, he focuses too much on Muhammad Ali’s thoughts and calmer side.  Yes, the champ had plenty of controversy out of the ring as much as in, but there’s just too much of it to focus so deeply on.  The spectacular fighting scenes are thereby sacrificed and the entire feel of the movie is slow, long, and eventually uninteresting.

It’s too bad too.  Muhammad Ali is one of history’s most charismatic and interesting figures.  He never shied away from speaking exactly what he wanted and that often included his political beliefs and thoughts about sporting organizations.  Though he was greatly revered and celebrated, he was simultaneously smeared and hated.  His life was full of action (whether physical or not), he spoke with original poetry, if you will, and always backed up his fast tongue, and gave us some of the most memorable and inspiring moments of athleticism, strategy, and heroism ever.

It would therefore not be fitting for such an icon’s story to be told in such a sluggish manner.  Think about like this: if we were given a movie about the life of Queen Elizabeth and it were told in the same fashion as “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, we would be wondering what the hell was going on.  Sure, you’d add some flavor to spice up the details of her story (I mean, those royal Brits aren’t exactly known as adventure seekers), but it would be extremely limited.

Point being, “Ali” should have been told with more flavor and a speedier story.  Absolutely keep the drama of Ali’s personal life and struggles involved, but make it seem interesting and not as a lecture.  There’s still good things going on as far as the boxer as the boxer, but as the man, “Ali” becomes too much.

**1/2 Stars

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