Muhammad Ali - a name that will always be remembered in the boxing world, no
matter how many knockouts follow and no matter how many ears are bitten off. Ali,
the movie, is a 10-year long extract from the legend's life, starting in 1964
when he won the heavyweight championship title from Sonny Liston till the "Rumble
In The Jungle" organized by Don King, when he reclaims the title from George Foreman.
The time during which he started off as Cassius Clay and emerged as Muhammad Ali.
Unfortunately, the film doesn't do real justice to that era which saw the making
of a legend.
Will Smith did a lot of things to try to get into those legendary boxing shoes. He put on almost 50 pounds, learnt all those boxing moves and mannerisms, said all those funny lines Ali is famous for... the works. But Ali is not exactly Ali! Something is definitely missing... It could be that the focus is on all the wrong parts and not on the highlights of his life. It could be that the director couldn't help idolizing the great man by muting the low points and highlighting the high ones. Or it could just be that we didn't get to see Ali's fourth wife in the movie, or enough of the other three ones!
Sheer brilliance in this movie comes in the form of a cameo by Jon Voight, who plays Howard Cosell, the original newsman who is a kind of a mentor and a conscience for Ali. A beautiful rendition of a name that we have only heard about. The other roles are a mite too loud and over-played - especially that by Mykelti Williamson, who plays Don King and starts grating on the nerves.
But like they say, you can't have the cake and eat it too. Will Smith got away
with a resemblance that renders 'uncanny' insufficient, but the rest of it just
ain't good enough. The direction plays more on creating the atmosphere and showcasing
the character of a legend. But the process that went into making the man a legend
is ignored, and that does make the movie seem incomplete. But as far as acquainting
yourself with the greatest years in Ali's life and some of the quirks of that
great man are concerned, Ali is definitely a good bet.