Few boxing movies in Hollywood history are as powerful, and it's not hard to see why. Not only do they satisfy our desire to see big men banging each other's cymbals, but they have a dramatic structure of their own that is almost impossible to screw up. You create a feud between two fighters, put the good guy through unimaginable hardships during training, and then let it all culminate in a big match that serves as a metaphor for the hero's inner struggle. While you'd think Barton Fink had given up on writing an action movie, Jack Lipnick was right when he said "there's a lot of poetry in this episode."
So it's admirable that The Great George Foreman: The Magical Story of the Past and Future Heavyweight Champion of the World is so boring. (And yes, that's a real title. All 16 words.) The legendary boxing career of George Foreman, who retired to become a preacher at age 24 and won the World Heavyweight Championship when he returned to win it again. 45 years, one of the most iconic stories in sports history. We've been waiting for a great George Foreman movie for a long time. Her life is the three-act structure the book is based on, so she does the hardest part!
But this sad biography about George Tillman Jr. It belongs to the director. This story, which tries to reimagine the life of the form as a story of faith-based Christian victory over infidels, loses the life of the story. The true story of the boxer remains fascinating, but the convoluted plot, filled with metaphors and over-the-top fight scenes, makes it almost impossible to follow. "The Great George Foreman" is as important to Foreman's life as the George Foreman tabletop grill is to Weber.
When we first meet George Foreman (Chris Davis), he is a troubled teenager who was bullied throughout his childhood due to his family's poverty. His desire to make money and help his mother is sincere, but his anger issues prevent him from doing anything remotely meaningful. But when local boxing trainer Doc Broadus (Forest Whitaker) sees him in a street fight, he decides the youngster is "too ugly" to be a boxer. He took him under his wing and began to show him the ways of the sport, however, making it clear that George had to abandon his aggression in the ring and behave with dignity outside the gym.
Foreman has developed in leaps and bounds, although we never get to see what makes him so good. In a very poignant scene, Doc tells him that he can train harder than anyone else and still not make it to the next Olympics, only to win a gold medal next year. Soon, he beats Joe Frazier for the heavyweight title and gets everything he wants: fame, fortune, and a hedonistic lifestyle frowned upon by his pious mother (Sonja Son).
But all good things come to an end, and Foreman soon loses the title to Muhammad Ali (Sullivan Jones) after falling victim to Ali's signature drug strategy. Jones' small role in Ali portrayed the boxing legend as a bully other than an enemy, with his eye on his next payday. It's perhaps an interesting choice for a 20th-century religious film. The most famous religious athlete of the 20th century – a man who changed his name to reflect his deep Islamic faith – portraying his God-fearing hero as a secular villain to confront.
Shortly after dropping the belt, George had an epiphany. He fell into the dressing room and died, he briefly told her, but was saved by the last-minute intervention of Jesus Christ. Everything is displayed with a black screen, who's to say it's wrong? This experience was so effective that he decided to stop fighting and devote himself to spreading the word of God. After divorcing his socialite wife and marrying a good church girl (Jasmine Matthews), he starts giving weekly Sunday sermons and building a community center in his Houston neighborhood to keep the kids away.
All was well until he discovered his finances were being destroyed by shady charities and money managers. The boxing legend doesn't have a dime in his pocket and can't afford to buy one, let alone run a barbecue ad he thought no one would notice. Despite being twenty years older (and heavier) than his champion, he decides to return to the ring and fight for the heavyweight belt to pay off his debts. His wife was against the idea at first, but Foreman soon relented when he saw it as an opportunity to preach on the world's biggest stage.
Foreman's journey to redemption—a meeting with a doctor, a fitness regimen that kept him from losing 50 pounds, a gradual return from minor exhibition fights to a title match—has all the makings of a great movie. But with the film's two-hour-and-eight-minute runtime fast approaching, Tillman took every opportunity to clean up the story. Short training montages, jokes about Foreman being forced to eat oatmeal when he prefers pancakes, and shorter title fights, that's what we get. There is no room to explain the role God played in this process. The rushed ending made an already bad boxing movie into a bad Christian movie.
As human society enters an age of artificial intelligence and deep fraud, celebrities have begun suing companies for unauthorized use of their images. The law is clear: you can't say someone endorses a product unless they're telling the truth. After watching Big George Foreman, it's only natural to wonder if this wallpaper should be passed on to God. Surely the God who created our planet, whose extraordinary beauty inspired Bob Dylan to write every grain of sand, would be pleased to associate his name with it.
Sony Pictures will release Big George Foreman: The Incredible Story of the Former Heavyweight Champion of the World in theaters on Friday, April 28.
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