For all its high brow attitude about being adapted from a true story, The Perfect Storm is exactly as you'd expect: a disaster movie with great effects, little plot, and passable performances; in other words, an updated Twister for the year 2000.
The movie drags for the first half: Billy Tyne (George Clooney) is a ship captain with a passion for fishing, working off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Tyne hasn't been able to meet his quota and it rankles. Prodded by failure, he sets sail to a remote section of the ocean known as the Flemish Cap, where he knows fish abound. Sure enough, they catch plenty of fish. The problem is that the ice maker breaks and so they must turn back lest the fish spoilt. To return immediately however, they must brave "the perfect storm", caused by a confluence of three weather phenomena, including a hurricane.
The acting, as I said, is passable---that's not necessary to make the film. The offbeat characters are interesting in small doses, but again, they're not necessary for the film to work. It is filming the storm where Wolfgang Peterson shines, and makes us realise that this is the same director who gave us the brilliant Das Boot. The effects are indeed spectacular and there was many a time when I felt a connection to the awe-inspiring fury of Nature. Unlike movies where man triumphs over nature, the grand visuals point to an inevitable outcome.
The major problem with The Perfect Storm is the sub-plot involving the coast guard which prolongs the movie unnecessarily without offering any feeling for the intensity of the storm. The movie should've just focused on the perfect storm, and the fury it unleashes, instead of going off on various tangents.
While I can certainly empathise with any real victims of Nature's rebuilding, the movie does them a grave injustice toward the end. I only hope there was some retribution from the profits made from this film. The Perfect Storm is worth seeing on the big screen, or not at all.