Big George Foreman is the biopic on Heavyweight Boxing Champion George Foreman. Written & Directed by George Tillman Jr, it is a 2-hour long journey traversing his life from being a member of the Job Corps to the Heavyweight Champion. It is a motivational and inspirational story about a man who triumphed despite coming from adversity not just once but twice in life. It is truly one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of boxing. How does the film do on bringing that unbelievable tale to the big screen? Read to find out. It features Khris Davis in the lead as the boxer with Forest Whitaker as Doc Broadus, and Sonja Sohn as Nancy Foreman among others. There is also Sullivan Jones as Muhammad Ali.
When I read about the film initially I was super intrigued, I wanted to see the journey of this man who went from a rage-filled teenager at the Job Corps to a legendary fighter, who after losing to Muhammad Ali, became a preacher, only to return to the ring once again. That is easily a story for a film that would get anyone's heart racing. This film manages to tell that story, but I believe it fails to deliver that story at the emotional peak it should've. Instead of a film that made my blood rush, I felt like I watched a poorly crafted low production that retold the story in a chopped-up manner.
I'll first like to appreciate the performance put forth by Khris Davis, initially, when we have a young raging George Foreman, I felt like his acting was subpar, he broods but it feels very acted. However, as the movie progresses he grows on you as the affable giant that the man transitions into. Sullivan Jones as Muhammad Ali is obnoxious at times but I feel that is just how they wanted to present him, funny and obnoxious while being witty. I didn't really like the majority of the acting in the film, It just didn't really feel realized or done with the immense complexity and emotional variability that the characters required.
This movie truly had a lot of potential but I feel like the creators focused way more on just telling the story rather than developing it into the emotional roller coaster ride that it could've been. The fights that were recreated felt like they had little to no weight. The worst part of the film was the final act, which should've been a payoff for the anticipation of George Foreman returning to the sport in adversity, but it is shown in such a cookie-cutter convenient manner that it feels like no achievement. I genuinely feel disheartened by how commercialized and plain the film feels.
Even his initial desire for fighting, rage, and anger felt like it came straight out of a generic youtube movie video about treating people right. Then the quick transitions to showing him winning the Olympics in Mexico also felt so bizarrely done. He walks up to the doc and talks about his prospects for the Olympics and the camera pans to the TV, transitioning into the Olympics exactly one year later. It just didn't have that quality in terms of production, set design, and most importantly the costumes. The makeup and costume design team failed miraculously in the final act with Khris Davis wearing a visible bald cap and an inflated stomach. It just takes away from the immersion when it is very visible.
It is surely an enjoyable film for an audience that would want to see the story of George Foreman but if this story would've gone to the right creators, this would have easily been an Oscar-worthy film. I could imagine this film, if handled with greater emotional depth and complexity would've been a treat for critics and audiences alike. This isn't a very common story. The movie dwells too long (or at least it feels like that) on mundane parts of his story. A slower pace that developed the story better and naturally would've worked so much better.
I feel disappointed and dissatisfied with this film. It isn't bad by any means, but it just doesn't work for me. I liked a morsel of scenes. I feel Muhammad Ali's relationship with George is a highlight of the film. George's arc from using his rage to using his heart after the near-death experience he has was also something I liked. Despite all that though, this film encompasses the idea of 'great ideas, poor execution'. Maybe with a different creator and a different cast, they should make another film about this lovable boxer and depict his return better (lasting more than just a mere 15-20 minutes toward the end of the film).
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