I think Spike Lee has a point, in reference to his "other people documenting our history", he just isn't very diplomatic about how he says it. While Muhammed Ali had an impact on most all Americans, the core of his effect on culture was how black America viewed the world because of an icon like Ali. I thought Mann's film, while technically adept (an understatement), was dramatically empty and mostly very boring. All you have to do is look at Malcom X
to see that Spike understands what aspects of the man's life were important to describe. As a black man himself, Spike's perspective is unique to blacks. It isn't all important and it shouldn't disqualify other filmmaker's work, but only a black man can truly know the black experience. It is just how it is. I don't doubt that Mann could have
done a good job, but he didn't and his decisions to spend so much time on Ali's women and the pretentious sequences of Ali somberly jogging to signify some kind of solemn presense were indicative of his lack of perspective. Ali was a transcendant figure because of his public persona, his bravado, and his fighting. Will Smith does an incredible job of recreating the character, yet he is given precious little screen time to really riff. The more interesting moments of the trailer were of Ali talking his talk, yet some of the segments revealed in the trailer did not even make the final cut of the film. It tells me that Mann was more concerned with filling in as many biographical details (who Ali was screwing) as possible, leaving a film short on drama and not becoming a filmic embodiment of the man that was Ali.
All that said, I generally like Michael Mann. I enjoyed Heat
and The Insider
immensely. I just think he struck out with Ali
I look forward to Lee's movie about Joe Louis.