Fourth of July weekend seemed like the perfect time to open a Revolutionary War picture, but thrill-seeking audiences bypassed the 160-minute historical drama The Patriot. Ironically, reviewers said the film is a sickly history lesson and works only on the level of popcorn entertainment. Moviegoers, though, were too busy buying tickets for The Perfect Storm (which nearly doubled The Patriot's take) to care.

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The Perfect Storm, an adaptation of the best-selling book by Sebastian Junger, tells the true story of a group of fishermen who get caught in the worst storm in recorded history. The movie's theme of human frailty had distributors worried that audiences would pass, but instead people flocked to see the you-are-there special effects advertised on posters—shelling out $41.7 million for the privilege. Christian critics agreed that the effects were the film's strong point. "This summer's biggest 'oh my God' movie, The Perfect Storm is the most intense film I can remember," raves the Dove Foundation. "The computer-generated action sequences are so realistic, you may experience a little seasickness. … But it is little more than a summer action flick. Look for no significant message or parable." Likewise, the U.S. Catholic Conference says it "emphasiz[es] special-effects thrills over compelling characterizations," Holly McClure of elaborates, saying she "wanted to see more of [George] Clooney's character and get an idea of what made this captain so driven, lonely and selfish, but unfortunately his character isn't really explored." However,'s Michael Elliott found the characterizations sufficient: "[the film] gives us just enough information about their lives to make us care deeply ...

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