The high seas, a dangerous beast no matter how
prepared even the most qualified professional can be. Unpredictable
weather patterns, loneliness and even death can come at any turn. So the
Transpacific Yacht Race is not something that is to be entered into
lightly. Months of preparation are needed, and even then that might not
be enough to help against anyone of the harsh variables that might come
about. Morning Lights chronicles the youngest ever group of
sailors to take part in this dangerous race, it’s just a pity that it’s
so damn boring.
The first part of the film features the crew choosing
their team and taking part in rigorous training sessions to get ready
for the race. This is the finer part of the film as it digs more into
the personal element of each of the contenders. Unfortunately its
potential is not reached on two levels, one is that the crew’s
personalities are not investigated deep enough, and the second is that
when the crew do get their personal times, they let loose with every
cliché about strength and perseverance imaginable. There is none of the
conflict or angst that you would expect for something that could quite
possibly kill them, and it hurts the film as it makes it feel too
contrived. Surely some of these people would be more frustrated at the
events unfolding, yet none of it is conveyed on film.
The second part of the film is where it really
stumbles. Perhaps it is just the nature of yacht racing, but the danger
and excitement that surely exists does not translate to the screen.
Instead there are many shots of the boat bobbing around in the middle of
nowhere, and the viewer is left to assume that there is a breakneck race
transpiring. It all looks very nice, as the crew has managed to capture
some decent footage, and many, many shots of the boat and a sunset, yet
doesn’t create any tension. It rapidly gets boring, kind of like how the
audience was supposed to believe that Speed 2 was a rollercoaster of
thrills. It really does not help the fact that while on the race the
crew are revealed even more so to be a bunch of spoiled Ivy League kids
that are insipid cliché spouting machines. One of the racers muses about
missing the small things in life while racing, such as HBO. Yes, life
sure is difficult without premium subscription TV isn’t it? Once again
while on the race there is none of the tension one would expect from a
crew of people being left to fend for themselves in a rather cramped
environment. Instead we get such meaningful dialogue like the snippet
beforehand, or that they have it hard because the food tastes bad while
on the boat. It is impossible to relate to anyone as no one is given
enough of a personality to relate to, and when they are the need to
punch them kicks in.
The special features are the best part of this DVD.
The first one is just an average making of with a bit of background
about yacht racing and the Transpacific race. But the second one is what
the film should have been all along. It is an ESPN special which
documents the crew members training and the crew being whittled down to
the final contestants. Here is where the human element is used
effectively, and also shows just how difficult the process can be.
While undoubtedly decent to look at, Morning Light
is a dud to experience. There is little in the way of character
development and it just makes the whole thing seem boring. When a
special feature made for TV is more entertaining and relatable than the
feature itself you know you are in trouble. As such there is no way this
can come as recommended, stick to ESPN and there will probably be
something more informative and entertaining.