Monday, November 16, 2015

The 33

Kind of a bummer, this one, not because it was terrible, but because I had what I thought were reasonably high hopes for it that never really came to fruition. If you'll pardon the choice of words, it needed to dig a little deeper.

One thing I didn't mention in the review is that the music seemed pretty weak, rather on-the-nose and unimaginative, and though you couldn't miss the dedication to James Horner at the end, I see now that it is in fact his final film (he's credited on IMDB as doing next year's The Magnificent Seven remake, but that's not possible, right?). It makes me wonder if he would have done a little more work on it otherwise.

Also: I always forget just how small most of the rooms other than the main auditorium at the Capitol feel until I go there. It was okay once the movie started (and I was in the second row), but a real reminder of how different rooms can feel.

The 33

* * ¼ (out of four)
Seen 13 November 2015 in Arlington Capitol #2 (first-run, DCP)

The story of thirty-three Chilean movers trapped underground after a disastrous cave-in was one that demanded constant attention five years ago, capturing the world's horrified imagination, and it seems like making a film from these events would be a fairly sure bet. And while there are parts of The 33 that deliver on that promise, no film is actually easy, with this one having issues turning two months of news reports into two hours of story.

It's unfair to refer to what happened in the San Jose mine as just something that appeared on the news, but that is how most of the world experienced it in 2010, recently enough that most in the audience will remember how it ends, although perhaps not a great deal of other detail. With that knowledge in place, the filmmakers need to provide more than the bare bones, either by finding some unique angle or providing you-are-there detail and immersion that no other medium can match. All too often, though, the filmmakers seem content to hit on every facet lightly rather than really focus on one. A broad overview seems like the last thing this movie needs to be.

Take, for instance, how it handles Mario SepĂșlveda, who emerges as the leader of the trapped miners, something that audiences can probably guess early because he's played by Antonio Banderas, the biggest star in the cast. He fits the part well enough, with director Patricia Riggen and a screenplay that passed through several hands checking off the appropriate boxes where he's obviously trusted and respected enough to mentor the new guy and pro-active enough to grab the dangerous job of finding a way out, but there's never quite enough detail to answer the question of "why him?", or make the scene where other miners feel he's gotten too big for his britches hit home. Banderas gets some nice-enough speeches that are genetically inspiring, but never gets to show just what it is about this guy that kept everyone together.

Full review on EFC.

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