Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The 33 (2015)

It's that season of the year when there is a little more time to relax and there are simultaneously a number of interesting new movies in theaters. Today I went to see THE 33 (2015), one of at least a couple new releases which I hope to review over the next few days.

As I shared in last week's link roundup, I was intrigued to learn that a film had been made about the 2010 rescue of 33 miners trapped far underground in Chile for 69 days. I appreciate my friend Jane encouraging me to see it, as I very much enjoyed it earlier today.

While reviews were generally decent, ranging from so-so to very good, one of the things I've read more than once was that the movie was "predictable" or "formulaic." Well, yeah. I'm not sure what these critics expected, a different ending? There are only so many ways to tell the story when you know the outcome going in, but I thought the filmmakers nonetheless crafted a solid, engrossing film.

Antonio Banderas stars as Mario Sepulveda, who becomes the unofficial leader of the 33 miners when they are trapped underground by a monster collapse of the mine. While the miners struggle for survival, painstakingly dividing up a few tins of food and coming close to starving after 17 days underground, far above there are miners, government officials, and families trying to assess how to save the miners, if they're still alive -- and indeed, it's uncertain whether a rescue operation is even possible.

Despite knowing the outcome, there is still plenty of suspense. The men are at the point where they will soon start shutting down and dying when a drill suddenly breaks through the ceiling of "The Refuge" where they had taken shelter during the cave-in. That moment might have been even more thrilling than when the large drill breaks through weeks later, for it's the first hole drilled which assures the men of food, water, medicine, lights, and other comforts, as well as the hope of their ultimate rescue.

The men would be underground a total of 69 days before a larger hole completed drilling, enabling the men to surface in a rescue capsule one at a time. I remember watching that exciting moment on TV late one evening, as I'm sure many others do, as one by one the men emerged after over two months trapped below the earth's surface.

The film concludes with footage of the real miners all together this year and a note saying they are all still "brothers."

One of the things I appreciated about the movie was the subtle but present undercurrent of religious faith, which is important to so many people yet often absent from movies. A scene in which an older miner invites a troubled younger man to pray was quite moving. This aspect of the film is discussed at greater length in a recent article in the Christian Post.

Gabriel Byrne plays the engineer in charge of the rescue operation, with James Brolin as Jeff Hart, the American miner who played a crucial role in the drilling. (Brolin looks great in the part but was seriously underused.) Juliette Binoche plays the sister of one of the miners who successfully brings pressure to bear on the government to get the rescue operation into high gear, and Cote de Pablo plays the pregnant wife of one of the miners. de Pablo, of TV's NCIS, is a native of Chile.

THE 33 was directed by Patricia Riggen and filmed in Chile and Colombia by Checco Varese. It runs 127 minutes.

As the film ended a card came on the screen dedicating the film "In Memory of Our Friend, James Horner." Horner, who composed the score, sadly passed away last summer.

Parental Advisory: THE 33 is rated PG-13 for language and the disaster sequence. It's an intense, mature story but I think it would probably be fine for some older children, especially given the film's positive themes of perseverance, teamwork, and faith.

The trailer is on YouTube.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura!
Interesting review. I shall now be on the lookout for this film in the cinema schedules here.

This is the time of year we expect to see some of filmdom's more interesting new releases of course. Recently we have been to see Woody Allen's newest, "IRRATIONAL MAN", "SUFFRAGETTE", "SPECTRE" and "A WALK IN THE WOODS". I would particularly recommend the last-named as a most entertaining ride. It is Robert Redford's filming of Bill Bryson's epic 'stroll' along a good chunk of the 2,200 miles of The Appalachian Trail. My wife and I enjoyed seeing parts of The Great Smokies and Blue Ridge Mtns that we have visited and which we love. The film is an "entertainment" and is very funny while also showing the resolve of two senior citizens to take up a real challenge and not give in to (minor) adversity. Nice film.

1:33 AM  
Blogger SimpleGifts said...

Hi, Laura - I'm so pleased you thought this film worthwhile. Your review is insightful and fair. I hope it will encourage others to see the movie. Thank you for that last photo showing my dear friend in his acting debut! Best, Jane

4:31 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Jerry, I'd love to know what you think if you catch THE 33. Thanks for sharing the films you've seen lately. I've never heard of A WALK IN THE WOODS, and it sounds interesting (although admittedly I've never been much of a Redford fan). The fact it was partly filmed in my dad's state adds interest!

Jane, thank you again so much for taking the time to recommend this film, your positive reaction and mention of it having a Horner score definitely encouraged me to make it a point to see it! Was especially neat knowing that actor was a friend of yours! He did a fine job. :)

Best wishes,

7:32 PM  
Blogger D.M.T. said...

Thanks for the review. I'll check it out.
-- Java (aka Deborah)

8:20 PM  

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