The Finest Hours
As a Disney period drama recounting the story of a triumph against all odds in the face of insurmountable adversity, a considerable amount of cheesiness and an obligatory romance that does nothing to develop the plot are to be expected. The Finest Hours hits every last cliché in the man-versus-storm-at-sea genre.
Based on a true story during the particularly unyielding blizzard of 1952, an oil tanker is literally split in half by the relentless storm and treacherous sea off the coast of Cape Cod. Rapidly taking on water but managing to stay afloat with some of the ship’s mechanisms still operational, the remaining crew led by Sybert (Casey Affleck) is tasked with staying above water long enough for a rescue mission to arrive, if one is ever dispatched. Meanwhile on land, the heroic archetype Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) is ordered on a virtual suicide mission with a small crew to brave the formidable conditions and save the stranded sailors.
A numbingly standard and unmemorable film, even the points of reproach are typical criticisms of disaster movies, from the comparable ease of returning to shore, despite the perilous journey out to sea, to the momentous musical score that stereotypically backgrounds every epic. The film attests, however, to some remarkable camerawork and cinematography, including shots that beautifully frame the frosted New England coast, angles that vividly convey the labyrinthine innards of a ship’s hull, and most notably, a slow-motion sequence of intense sea spray that is really awesome (especially in IMAX 3D).
It’s a shame that Ben Foster isn’t seen stretching his acting chops, and the poorly written script is no help in redeeming the annoying love interest as portrayed by Holliday Grainger. The set pieces and costumes work to subtly create the illusion of a period piece without being too gimmicky, which is surprising for a Disney film. But what else can be said? The Finest Hours is probably best for watching when sick in bed, falling in and out of consciousness, and when the fact that pretty convincing computer graphics isn’t enough to prop up an overall bland movie doesn’t matter too much.
The Finest Hours is released nationwide on 19th February 2016.
Watch the trailer for The Finest Hours here: