Will Smith has done it again. He’s amazing as Ali. He really pulls you into the story and, for an hour or two, he is Muhammad Ali. The movie does drag a bit in parts, but it’s essential story material that wouldn’t be as important if they had sped through it.
A lot of Ali relied on Will to make you believe without even saying a word. From his first fight, you can see the will to win reflected in his eyes. Sometimes you have to catch yourself as you see an Ali facial expression or gesture on Will’s face. It’s amazing. No one could have portrayed Ali better.
Jamie Foxx picks a decent role, finally, as Drew “Bundini” Brown, and does it well. Mario Van Peebles also gives an outstanding performance as Malcom X and Jon Voight is amazing as Howard Cosell. (I had to read the credits at the end to know who he played!). Also, a quick appearance by Levar Burton (“Roots” (TV), “Reading Rainbow” (TV) and Geordi on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TV)) as Martin Luther King, Jr is also well done.
The special effects mostly seemed to consist of makeup artistry, and artistry is the right word to use here. When they can make a famous face become someone else, that’s true artistry. This is what special effects are all about, folks. Not for flash, but to make the story come alive. Sure, the special effects of lasers and such are cool to look at, but do they make you more involved in the story? No. (For a good example of this, check out Spider-Man (2002)) The actors do. With a few makeup touches, this movie rises much above the level of a Spider-Man (2002) or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001). This story pulls you in.
The only thing that drags this movie down is the DVD itself. All we get are a couple of theatrical trailers? C’mon. How about a tape of the real fights that are in the movie, or something along those lines? They could have added a bit more. Without it, we can always worry that they’ll do a re-release with added stuff later, just to get us to fork over more cash.
All in all, Ali is an excellent film. I think this is one of the top 10 movies released on DVD so far this year. If you rent or buy this, you’ll be chanting “Ali” by the time you’re through, too.