Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Review: The Finest Hours

World of Blackout Film Review

The Finest Hours Poster

The Finest Hours
Cert: 12A / 117 mins / Dir. Craig Gillespie / Trailer
WoB Rating: 3/7

Note to self: Advance screenings are great, maritime disaster tales are often workable, and movies set in Massachusetts are a lot of fun, too. But when a film sits right in the middle of that Venn Diagram, I'm probably not going to enjoy it...

And so it was that the inhabitants of Screen 5 donned their light-reducing spectacles to watch another movie set mostly in blustery seas and at night, reducing visibility to what was presumably 'fairly realistic levels', given the nature of the story. In 1952, when the oil tanker SS Pendleton split in two during a violent storm, a brave and idealistic young coastguard named Bernie Webber braved the seas with a small hand-picked team to rescue the surviving tanker crew-members against the advice and expectations of his seniors. And he did it. That's basically the film*1.

The main issue I had was that the story quickly splits into three strands, and stays that way for the majority of the film. In the first, the adult crew of the oil tanker behave like petulant schoolchildren asked to tidy up the playground as their ship falls apart around them. In the second, tiny-faced Chris Pine earnestly rubs his hands away to stumps convincing the audience that working in sea-rescue is incredibly dangerous (we know mate, I don't think anyone was disputing that). And in the third, a turgid soap-opera unfurls in which Holliday Grainger (Mrs Chris Pine for the purposes of this film), drives out to the lifeboat office to complain that they've let her fiancé do his job, then drives into a small snowdrift and falls unconscious before being taken back to the harbour and turning her headlights on. That's basically the film.

And throughout all of it, the only scenes you can see properly are those set indoors on dry land, which are - by their very nature - the least interesting. It's the sort of story which would make a fantastic documentary, rather than a bloated, condescending parable about team-work and determination. But at least no-one had to disembowel a whale from the inside-out in this one.

Note to film industry: Just because a chain of events can be classed as 'a true story', that doesn't mean it'll automatically make a good film. Otherwise the evening news would generate more buzz than Avengers, wouldn't it..?

Even the film's title is borderline fraudulent...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
In The Heart Of The Sea.
Come on, some of you must have enjoyed it?

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Oh, if you like.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I have no idea.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Er, no.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not, I'm fully aware that I'm in a minority here.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: The Finest Hours stars Holliday Grainger, who appeared in Anna Karenina alongside Keira 'Sabé' Knightley.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 I mean, obviously. They tend not to make movies of this sort of thing where everybody dies at the end (although I'm also sure there are some exceptions to that rule).

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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