Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Movie Review #373: "The Finest Hours" (2016)

Movie"The Finest Hours"
Ticket Price: $7.00
Director: Craig Gillespie
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 57 minutes
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A Coast Guard team, led by Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), is sent out on a seemingly impossible mission during a terrible storm to rescue the crew of a sinking oil tanker that has split clean in half.

Real life events featuring an epic sea rescue mission produced by Disney? You might be thinking 'slam dunk,' right? Well, sort of.

Based on a true story, "The Finest Hours" takes place in February 1952 and stars Chris Pine as a young Coast Guard officer named Bernie Webber, who helmed a rescue mission off the coast of Cape Cod with three other crew members named Richard Livesey, played by Ben Foster, Andy Fitzgerald, played by Kyle Gallner, and Ervin Maske, played by John Magaro. Since this true rescue takes place in New England, most of the actors in this film try to put on their best Massachusetts accents. Some of these accents are very strong, and some not so much. Oddly enough, one of least prominent accents comes from Casey Affleck, who is actually from Massachusetts (and would probably tell you so at any given opportunity). We aren't exactly sure if his character, Ray Sybert, was from that region, but we definitely noticed his lack of an accent either way. The most puzzling accent delivered in this movie is from Eric Bana, who we know is from Australia. Here, he delivers a rather nondescript Southern accent as commanding officer Daniel Cluff, who even makes mention that he's "not from around there." The actual Daniel Cluff is from Virginia, and though we don't know what he actually sounds like, we would hope his actual voice isn't as distracting as Bana's accent in "The Finest Hours." Why are we bringing up accents so much? They have the power to make or break a performance. In Chris Pine's case, his was not distracting nor noticeable, but Bana's made us unable to take his character very seriously. It's just messy acting and poor directing because there could have easily been re-shoots to fix any problems.

Besides lots of accents, being a movie about a rescue mission at sea, there are lots of waves, lots of water, and lots and lots of big waves in water. For the most part, the special effects are good enough, but there are a couple of times where the ocean waves and water looked CGI rather than realistic. It's really not that hard to make water look like water since it has no humanoid or animal features, but early on in the film, there is some really awfully fake water imagery. Overall, however, these few instances of phony H2O are not a major problem for us because, from beginning to end, the action manages to be intense and exciting, though the rescue crew spends much more time getting to the split-in-half ship than it does rescuing those stranded on its deck. The moments leading up to the rescue of dozens of crew members aboard SS Pendleton are tense, ones that can put you on the edge of your seat. For us, there was never a moment in this movie we would call dull, slow, or boring, especially once the rescue mission starts. The characters are built up just enough so we care about them and want them to return safely, though much of the romantic aspect feels out of place and shoe-horned in at times. Holliday Grainger, who plays Bernie Webber's fiance Miriam, does fine in her role as the anxious, scared wife-to-be, but Grainger must have 4 dozen close-up shots of her face once she comes on screen, and about 3.5 dozen of those are simply unnecessary.

Sure, "The Finest Hours" isn't going to win any awards or add anything new to the true story/tales of heroism/sea adventure genres, but most likely, you will walk away from this film entertained at the very least. Since this movie is produced by Disney, it is fairly family friendly, even for a film with a PG-13 rating, but some of the more intense sea scenes might be a bit too much for younger children.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Still Alice"

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