Hot off the gargantuan success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes Disney’s latest release, period disaster movie The Finest Hours. The movie is based on the true story of the United States Coast Guard rescue of the ship SS Pendleton after it split apart during a violent storm in 1952. It stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and Holliday Granger. Two seafaring men, underestimated by their colleagues, must prove themselves in this drama that harkens back to classic Hollywood cinema. However, the movie is not as grand or spectacular as it intends to be, but is instead rather dull.
Pine is Coast Guard crewman Bernie Webber, a role that is a far cry from the all-American charm and cockiness of Captain Kirk. Instead, here he portrays Webber as a shy, modest man who has a tendency to play by the book, despite being tasked with braving the stormy seas to rescue the crew of the sinking SS Pendleton. Casey Affleck takes charge of the doomed ship as Ray Sybert, in a flat and uncharismatic performance, which is a stark contrast to his memorable role in Triple 9. He appears bored, despite being faced with such enormous catastrophe. English actor Holliday Granger is the weakest aspect of the movie, delivering lines awkwardly in a poor New England accent.
Performances are unmemorable all round, as the actors react in a disengaged manner to their dire circumstances, and the lack of tension and threat leaves little room for emotional investment in the fate of their characters. At one point, as a wave the size of a skyscraper rolls up into the sky before Webber and his crewmates, his face is completely neutral and unresponsive to the ominous sight of natural terror. The reality is that Pine is being told to look up at a green screen. Digital effects rarely work effectively in realistic settings, and it’s a surprise Disney didn’t utilize their ownership of Industrial Light and Magic after such impressive work on Star Wars. Despite being a spectacle movie, there is a distractingly digital look to the film, where things look blurry and soft, which clashes with the old-fashioned sensibility and 50s visual style. The reliance on digital effects diminishes the sense of epic scale the movie is searching for. Everything feels small, which could potentially be effective if the drama packed far more of a punch and with less clichés.
This is a story that could have been told better, as the real events sound far more inspiring than what played out on screen. The romantic sub-plot involving Pine and Granger is unconvincing and forced. This film contains zero magic and very few dramatic thrills audiences come to expect from Disney.
Is it worth watching?
+ Engaging in parts
This is the kind of movie you forget, see in a store one day and recall a hazy memory of once watching it half asleep in a parallel universe, wondering if you were stoned.
Watch the trailer for The Finest Hours
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