THE FINEST HOURS
BY THE COMMANDER
2 (out of 4-stars)
Why does Hollywood keep producing films that are "based on a true story" and think that's a valid reason for audiences to go see a film? A film that is a true story actually becomes a documentary. It's really meant for educational purposes and not for entertainment. Audiences like to be entertained, whether it's a true story or not.
The Finest Hours is a film based upon a real incident that occurred in 1952, when the Coast Guard made a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod, where a pair of oil tankers split in half during a blizzard. And of course, wouldn't you know what? It happened at night on the water with no moonlit sky, fluorescent lights or other beams of illumination. Basically, just darkness.
The filmmakers tried to recreate the feeling of being in a small rescue boat out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, all alone, in search of an oil tanker in the dark. This is where the problem began. For over 30% of the film you really couldn't see what was happening, because it was so dark. Now I know that's how it was back then, but how do you present that to an audience? It just didn't work. I could have closed my eyes for that same 30% and I would've walked away with the same feeling.
While there were good performances by the cast (I loved Chris Pines’ New England accent) this film reminded me too much of the Titanic and Poseidon movies. At least they were filmed with decent lighting and you could see everything that was happening. There was a lot more suspense, action, and thrilling scenes in those movies than there was in this one. I felt I couldn't concentrate on the action sequences, and if I blinked, I didn't know where I left off. I saw this film in 3D, which is notoriously a darker image on the screen, but overall this film felt empty.
When I left the theater, I felt bad for Disney. I had high hopes for this movie, based upon the prints and trailers, and I know they had spent a lot of money on this film, but that money never made it to the screen. Don't worry if you didn't get to see it in the theaters. Watching it at home on your widescreen TV in 2D, in total darkness, should yield the same effect. And don't bother with the popcorn, just bring a flashlight.