Will Smith might have shot to the top of Hollywood’s A-list and cemented himself as the industry’s biggest box office draw during the 1990s by starring in a string of big budget blockbusters that relied heavily on his star power, charisma and signature fast-talking style, but at the turn of the millennium the actor decided to make a rare venture into more dramatic territory.
Although he faced criticism from some quarters for bearing very little resemblance to the man himself, Smith received rave reviews for his lead performance in Ali, and picked up the first Academy Award nomination of his career for his troubles. While seeing the most popular movie star on the planet playing one of the most famous athletes in history seemed like a guaranteed success, Michael Mann’s Ali surprisingly bombed at the box office and didn’t even come close to recouping the $107 million budget in theaters.
While the cast may have come in for universal praise, the vast majority of critics thought that the boxing biopic was hugely lacking in other areas, and a movie that was originally positioned to be a major awards season contender instead largely found itself out of consideration when it came to dishing out the big prizes, although co-star Jon Voight also landed an Oscar nod for his supporting role.
Still, Ali remains one of the more underrated movies of the former Fresh Prince’s career, and a whole new generation of fans will be able to check it out for themselves when it arrives of Netflix next week (July 1st), where it stands a real chance of being able to crack the streaming service’s Top 10 list. After all, Will Smith is still a huge name coming off the back of the commercial success of Suicide Squad, Aladdin and Bad Boys For Life, and his acclaimed turn as Muhammad Ali is certainly one of the most underrated entries in his back catalogue.