On Feb. 18, 1952, a massive storm splits the SS Pendleton in two, trapping more than 30 sailors inside the tanker’s sinking stern. Engineer Ray Sybert bravely takes charge to organize a strategy for his fellow survivors. As word of the disaster reaches the Coast Guard in Chatham, Mass., Chief Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff orders a daring rescue mission. Despite the ferocious weather, coxswain Bernie Webber takes three men on a lifeboat to try and save the crew against seemingly impossible odds.
- Runtime: 117 min
- Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
“We all live or we all die.” — not quite what we would typically hear in a Disney film centered by princesses, castles, and pixie dust.
Disney has expanded its potential by steering away from fantasy, dreams, and magic by bringing a simple story back to life based on true facts and showcasing depth (pun intended) and complexity. The extensive amount of thrill, sound and visual effects, and character development worked so well with the various themes presented throughout the film in one of the greatest rescue stories in Coast Guard history.
We were invited to attend an advanced screening of the film, thanks to our friends at The Walt Disney Studios and having only seen the trailer, we didn’t know what to expect from the first Disney film of the year. We just knew it was going to be dark…and wet.
The Finest Hours, adapted from a novel by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, and directed by Craig Gillespie, dives into a story about teamwork, bravery, learning to stand your ground, and hope.
Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), a young, soft-spoken, and obedient First Class Petty Officer of the U.S. Coast Guard was ordered out to sea in a massive and treacherous storm by Warrant Officer, Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) along with Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), Seaman Wallace (John Ortiz), and Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner) in an effort to rescue 32 men trapped on T-2 oil tanker that had broken in half. Despite their differences, it was up to Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) to lead and bring the crew together in order to buy themselves time and stay afloat.
“In the Coast Guard they say you have to go out…they don’t say you have to come back in,” Bernie said.
Bernie was such an inspiring and lovable character. His selflessness, determination, and bravery during his journey out at sea made us want to get up on our seats and root for him and his crew. It was no surprise why his love interest, Miriam (Holliday Grainger) who by the way, was not afraid to say what was on her mind, was so desperately eager to marry such a good man like Bernie. After all, she did ask him to marry her.
One of the great parts of the film was the similar struggle that the characters had from land (U.S. Coast Guard) and water (SS Pendleton). Although their stories were distinct having to overcome different obstacles, a sense of epic-ness ensued when the two finally meet. A hero meets a hero and both Bernie and Ray know exactly what they all have gone through.
Additionally, the theme of following and breaking the rules was an important aspect of the film. It was a great message for the audience to know that sometimes enough is enough and that you shouldn’t always need to obey orders. Know that you can take charge to do the right thing, even if it means rescuing 32 men on Bernie’s little, wooden, poorly-equipped, 12-occupancy boat.
If there’s one thing that The Finest Hours means, it is to never lose hope. When it’s dark, quiet, and you have no direction of where to go, sometimes all you need to do is follow the light.
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Overall, this film is far from being a tanker. It was dramatic, suspenseful, and very heartfelt, which will surely captivate the audience from start to finish. Not only was it a great film, but it gave us a greater awareness and appreciation for the U.S. Coast Guard considering the risks they take to save others, especially during their finest hours.
Be sure to see The Finest Hours releasing in theaters today, January 29, 2016.
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All reviews are personal opinions and may not reflect the attitudes of other writers for DisneyExaminer.com unless stated otherwise.
These films have been screened prior to the release date for review purposes and therefore are viewed without charge courtesy of The Walt Disney Studios.
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