‘The Finest Hours’ Review: A Pleasant Surprise

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I walked into this film with the lowest of low expectations. The trailers made the film look rather bland and pretty unappealing. It just looked like another decent live-action Disney flick. I was going to see this film solely due to the fact that I got a screening for this and I thought, “hey, I guess I could review this”.

And here we are.

First things first, the marketing for this film is pushing the 3D. HARD. But guess what? I walked out of the theater and wondered, “hey, why is everything so dark?” Then I realized I was wearing 3D glasses. The film does not utilize the 3D at all. I cannot remember any scenes with notable, 3D-worthy moments. It was completely pointless. But talking about a film’s use of 3D as a form of criticism is pretty useless as well.

I know what you want to know. Should you see this? Maybe. I would say this film is a good rental.

It begins as a simple period-piece romance, and I was loving it. Pine and Grainger (no, not Hermione)’s chemistry is really what keeps viewers engaged in the first act of The Finest Hours. Their pretty cute together. Their relationship is not insanely remarkable, but it gets the job done. Pine does a really nice job as “just a kid from Boston”. Grainger works well off of Pine and has a relatively interesting character, but sadly she has basically nothing to do except for “wait for her husband to return from war”. Neither are really wasted; they service the film enough, but they fail to stand out. But as I was saying, this film was chugging along just fine as a romance, feeling similar to last year’s Brooklyn. But then the film completely changes. We start switching between the aforementioned romance and a ship’s struggle to stay afloat. As the film progressed, I found myself questioning the relevancy of this story line. It’s as if the film is having an identity crisis, attempting to, without success, blend two unfitting narratives. These attempts to blend romance and naval action come off as somewhat of a “discount” Titanic, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it adds a level of familiarity to it that makes the audience associate it with a great film, without feeling as if it’s  flat-out pandering.

Our story line on the ship and the romance between Pine and Grainger’s respective characters harshly blend. At first, this mash-up seems awful, having two completely irrelevant story lines as the main pull of your film. But the film goes on and slowly sheds away the romantic aspect: the main attribute keeping the film afloat (ha)! But we do progressively learn more and more about this ship and its crew. The most notable part of this being Casey Affleck. He brings a great aurora to his character and makes the audience care just a little bit more about what is going down with this boat. The cast supporting Affleck’s character (as well as the one supporting Pine’s half of the narrative) does help the film out a lot in the category of this story line’s relevancy. Eventually, danger strikes the vessel of Affleck’s crew, and they need a hero (they’re holding of for a hero ’til the end of the night). They find that hero in Pine and his posse. They hope in a boat and set off to save the crew. The dynamic between the two boats is pretty interesting and brings up a few fun action set-pieces. The effects during which are top-notch. But this rescue mission does begin to feel a little dull and uninteresting towards the latter half of the film. But that’s not to say that this is a slow-paced film as it’s actually somewhat quick. It didn’t drag all that much for me and surprisingly flew by.

The film dabbles in extremely single themes like “never give up”, and “love is the only thing quantifiable by time and space”. Ya’ know, the usual. It doesn’t completely condemn the film to mediocrity, it just makes it a tad bit more accessible than it would be if it tackled more complex ideas. This simplicity is actually what elevates this film, giving it a level of sweetness and sincerity absent in some of the most recent blockbusters. At its core, this film is a romance, so it obviously has a big heart, but it uses it to its advantage, keeping the viewers viewing and not leaving them un-engaged. It’s got a nice “classic, sleek & suave feel to it.

Overall, this is a good movie. Nothing remarkable, but it’s a sweet adventure story full of great chemistry, fun set pieces, and really enjoyable performances. The film clocks in at a little under two hours. Now, sure, it could’ve shaved off a few minutes here and there, keeping it at around a tight 100 minutes, but nonetheless it’s a harmless film. If you end up seeing The Finest Hours, you’ll most likely enjoy yourself. You won’t really remember it far down the road, but it’s a sweet and sincere adventure that’ll leave you with a smile on your face.

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