(In theaters, July 2000) Upon reading Sebastian Junger’s non-fiction book The Perfect Storm, my first reaction was that it would make a spectacular movie, but probably not a very good one: The historical facts -if played straight- were ill-fitted to a dramatic arc, and carried a definitely anti-happy-ending resonance. Fortunately, director Wolfgang Petersen was able not only to keep the film reasonably faithful to the book, but also to deliver a film that will satisfy most audiences. The first forty minutes of the film, with its land-based action meant to introduce the characters and set up the relevant elements of the plot, are definitely its weakest: The audience is there to see the storm, not some fishermen with clichéd dialogue. But pay attention, as the characters will give meaning to the upcoming mayhem. After the storm starts, you can only sit back and go Wow, because you’re going to see some of the most awe-inspiring storm footage ever computer-generated. This is the point where you realize you should see this film on the biggest screen you can. By this time, the lousy dialogue and jerky character development doesn’t really matter. We’re in ride-movie territory, and as far as those go, The Perfect Storm is better than most. Even the ending, which I was apprehending, felt right. Maybe not a perfect film, but a darn good roller-coaster with some depth.