Annapolis loves speed. Less than 20 minutes into the film, you know Jake Huard (James Franco) lost his mother at a young age, has an unsupportive father, and dreams of attending the US Naval Academy.
The movie needs to move quickly, as it has to establish a rapidly building relationship between Huard and one of the superior officers, Ali (Jordana Brewster). Once the school setting is established, Huard has his goal: beating another one of his superior officers in a boxing match.
Ali (Tyrese Gibson) is a strong opponent in a physical sense. Built like a brick, tall, and undoubtedly powerful, Rocky would be proud to face him in front of thousands. The hackneyed drama that supports this fight on an emotional level is a disaster though.
Huard befriends a heavy-set cadet nicknamed Twins (Vicellous Reon Shannon) who fails a critical physical exam by four seconds. Ali flunks Twins who then tries to kill himself by jumping out of a window. Jake takes it out on Ali, setting up the final confrontation inside the boxing ring.
The problem is, despite Twins being the likeable, caring sidekick the audience is supposed to be behind, Ali does nothing wrong. This is the US Navy, where high standards are of course critical. Ali may be hard, but Jake is cranky and lacks discipline. It makes you wonder if he learns anything during his year at the Academy.
Of course, before the fight are countless training vignettes, filled with hard work and a few funny moments. These are tiring, only a slightly less forgivable than the unintentionally hilarious motivational speech given by Twins as he lie in the hospital bed from his fall. Yes Jake, you can do it, as if all of the other support he had was not enough.
Annapolis still wants to drag itself down further, establishing the father as another undeveloped character who does not want his son to succeed in a prestigious school, but build ships instead. He realizes the err of his ways for no apparent reason, attending the final boxing match of the school year to give Jake that clichéd nod of the head. This makes everything okay, including the years of disapproval as he now believes in his son, and the audience can go home happy… or not after watching this schlock.
Annapolis transfer beautifully to Blu-ray, easily one of the best of the early hi-def releases. The flaws are minimal, limited to black crush throughout and sporadically noisy grain, likely a fault of the early MPEG-2 encode.
Colors are rich and wonderfully saturated. The print is free of imperfections and detail is outstanding. Facial textures are defined and consistent. Flesh tones are spot on while the contrast remains bright. Occasional shots are soft, although quick to pass.
Despite its dialogue-heavy nature, a strong PCM mix is lively. Boxing matches are loaded with heavy, powerful punches. The crowd fills the sound field cleanly, creating an immersive atmosphere. Bar scenes are also lively, capturing chatter in all channels.
A thunderstorm late into the movie is spectacular, with crisp rainfall and deep thunder. Dialogue is well handled, mixed nicely to remain audible during the otherwise loud boxing scenes.
A fine commentary from director Justin Lin, writer David Collard, and editor Fred Raskin is joined by a collection of deleted scenes, also with an optional commentary. A promotional making-of is missing from the DVD, apparently replaced by the movie showcase, which is a selection of scenes the studio picked to be the best technically.