Popping in the "Antwone Fisher" DVD into my player, I didn't know what to expect from Denzel Washington's directorial debut. Would it be a pretentious film that would scream out, "Hey! You should like me because I was made by Academy Award Winner Denzel Washington!" or would it actually be a film worth watching. Lucky for me, "Antwone Fisher" is a film worth watching, that just so happens to be directed by Denzel Washington.
Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) is a young, black man, who serves in the U.S. Navy. He's prone to fits of rage, and his latest scuffle with a shipmate may end up being his last depending on the result of a psychiatric evaluation. At first, Antwone is reluctant to disclose any personal information to the naval psychiatrist Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington). Throughout their sessions together (3 mandatory ones), we learn of Antwone's childhood, or lack-thereof. We begin to understand why Antwone is so full of rage... and then that's it, his third session is over.
"Antwone Fisher" is one of the more compelling movies I've seen in recent memory. The awful things Antwone experienced in his childhood, starting with his father's murder, his birth in prison, to his days being abused in a foster home, are intense. I found myself cringing at the acts depicted in this movie, and felt it was a little too extreme for a PG-13 rating. This is a movie for adults, not the teenybopper crowd.
Antwone develops a relationship with a female, but finds himself put off by her. This leads into a deeper investigation into his childhood, when we learn even more awful things about the abuse he suffered. The bond between Antwone and Davenport is enjoyable to watch, and throughout the movie, you root for Antwone to overcome his demons. By the end of the movie, I found myself caring about Antwone. This is something I wish more movies would do nowadays… create sympathetic characters. On a side note, there is a REAL Antwone Fisher. He's the one who wrote the screenplay for this movie (he was working security at the time for Sony, and managed to slip Denzel Washington a copy of the script).
Fox presents "Antwone Fisher" in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1. Much like I've come to expect from Fox's new releases, the transfer is excellent. Colors are vivid, and not too over-saturated. The print is free of dirt, grain, artifacts, and pixelation. Flesh tones look right. Overall, a very fine transfer from Fox.
The audio is presented here in Dolby 5.1, Spanish 2.0, and French 5.1. Like the video, Fox has done a really good job with the audio on this DVD. Although mostly dialogue driven, there are a few scenes in "Antwone Fisher" where your speakers will be put to good use (thunderclaps and gunshots, for example). Overall, everything sounds crisp and clean, with no audio dropouts whatsoever.
Static DVD menu with a looping, yet pleasant, musical score offers the choices of "Play", "Language Selection", "Scene Selection", and "Special Features."
Fox has given us a few bonuses on this DVD. The first is a commentary by Director Denzel Washington and Producer Todd Black. For a first-time director, Washington is surprisingly informative, and has a good rapport with Black. They discuss specific scenes, the process of filmmaking, and the Navy's cooperation.
The first of three featurettes on this disc is entitled "Meeting Antwone Fisher." This 14-minute featurette gives added insight to the real Antwone Fisher and how the Navy changed his life, while mixing in clips of the movie and interviews from the cast and crew. The second featurette is entitled "The Making of Antwone Fisher." Running at approximately 22 minutes, it's mostly fluff (clips/interviews), but tells an interesting story on Derek Luke and Antwone Fisher's friendship. The third featurette is called "Hollywood & The Navy." Running at around 5 minutes, this featurette discusses the Navy's cooperation with the filmmakers (even post 9/11).
Fox also decided to include a few theatrical trailers. Unfortunately, none of them are for "Antwone Fisher." This is an annoying trend I've seen develop over the last few months. Some DVD enthusiasts enjoy seeing film trailers for the movie they're about to watch. But in most cases, the studios just throw in a bunch of random trailers. For instance, these are the trailers present on this DVD: "Le Divorce", "In America", "Master and Commander", and "Drumline." Ugh.
This movie is not for everybody. For those sensitive to child-abuse, you may want to avoid this one. For those of you looking for something completely different and real, I have to recommend this movie. Good movie + good audio/video + good supplements = Thumbs up from me.