From all of the previews and trailers, Annapolis looks like a standard movie about a headstrong but talented kid learning about discipline and teamwork amidst the grueling first year in the Naval Academy. Instead, it turns into a boxing movie. By doing this, Annapolis is able to use cliches common in two genres, combining to form one huge cliche. It's a shame, especially given that director Justin Lin (Shopping for Fangs) made such a splash with Better Luck Tomorrow, a movie in which he wanted to shatter stereotypes. In Annapolis, he embraces them, milking them for all they're worth. Annapolis is not a bad film, it's just the same film everybody has seen time and time again.

Jake Huard (James Franco, Tristan and Isolde, The Great Raid) barely makes it into the Naval Academy. He is already behind all his peers, but he is determined to succeed by himself. His father (Brian Goodman, Munich, The Last Castle) is distant and does not approve. At Annapolis, is far behind in academics. He despises Midshipman Lt. Cole (Tyrese Gibson, Four Brothers, Flight of the Phoenix), who seems to take sadistic delight in punishing Huard. Huard quickly becomes an outcast amongst the other cadets, except for Twins (Vicellous Shannon, Hart's War, The Hurricane). He also humiliated himself by hitting on Ali (Jordana Brewster, D.E.B.S., The Invisible Circus), another upperclassman.

Oh, and he boxes. The Brigades are the highlight of the school year, and the only opportunity that Huard has to administer a beat down on Cole. He presses on by himself, failing to realize the value of asking for help, and also failing to see that Cole's pressure is not personal, but serves to mold Huard into a better person. Lin and screenwriter David Collard (Out of Time) really dropped the ball with the boxing story. While the story about a stubborn kid trying to learn humility is also an overdone cliche, they could have done more with it than they do here. By the time the final fight rolls around, it's clear that Lin didn't need to set the story inside Annapolis. He did to try to emphasize the extreme pressure that Huard is undergoing, but then completely ignores it. Instead, they fill out the script with the usual supporting cast. The father is terse and unemotional. Ali is cute. There are the cadets that abandon Huard, only to come back later. There's the crusty trainer, and the officer who always believed in Huard.

Annapolis goes on autopilot relatively early. After he becomes a social outcast, Huard begins to doubt himself. Eventually, something happens and he becomes more determined than ever. He also learns to let other people in, and asks Ali to train him. This gives the film the chance for a muted love story. The boxing also lets Lin parade Franco, Gibson, and some other guys around with well-oiled and buff chests. Nevertheless, Annapolis does move efficiently, and everybody knows exactly what is going to happen, but that is about all the film has going for it.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 48 minutes, Rated PG-13 for some violence, sexual content, and language.

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