The Finest Hours (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
May 15, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“The Finest Hours” is an entertaining film hampered by unnecessary scenes. Sespite the film’s issues, you can’t help but enjoy the true story of American heroism and for that, “The Finest Hours” is a film on Blu-ray worth watching.
© 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: The Finest Hours
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 117 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:39:1 Aspect Ratio, English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Audio Description Track, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, SUBTITLES: English SDH, French and Spanish
RATED: PG-13 (For Intense Sequences of Peril)
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Directed by Craig Gillespie
Screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
Based on the book by Casey Sherman, Michael J. Tougias
Produced by Dorothy Aufiero, James Whitaker
Executive Producer: Douglas C. Merrifield
Cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe
Music by Carter Burwell
Edited by Tatiana S. Riegel
Casting by Mindy Marin
Production Design by Michael Corenblith
Art Direction by William Ladd Skinner
Set Decoration by Susan Benjamin
Costume Design by Louise Frogley
Chris Pine as Bernie Webber
Casey Affleck as Ray Sybert
Ben Foster as Richard Livesey
Eric Bana as Daniel Cliff
Holliday Grainger as Miriam Webber
John Ortiz as Wallace Quirey
Kyle Gallner as Andy Fitzgerald
John Magaro as Ervin Maske
Graham McTavish as Frank Fauteux
Michael Raymond-James as D.A. Brown
Beau Knapp as Mel Gouthro
Josh Stewart as Tchuda Southerland
Abraham Benruby as George “Tiny Myers
Keiynan Lonsdale as Eldon Hanan
Rachel Brosnahan as Bea Hansen
Benjamin Koldyke as Donald Bangs
Matthew Maher as Carl Nickerson
Based on the extraordinary true story of the greatest smallboat rescue in Coast Guard history, THE FINEST HOURS is a tale of courage, loyalty and honor in the face of overwhelming odds. When a massive storm strikes off the coast of Cape Cod, it rips a T-2 oil tanker in half, trapping more than 30 sailors on its rapidly sinking stern. As Captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) and his crew set out in a 12-seat rescue boat to save them, Chief Engineer Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) struggles to buy his men more time. Packed with heroic larger-than-life action and driven by the men’s faith in their mission, themselves and one another, THE FINEST HOURS is a triumph.
On February 18, 1952, the Coast Guard performed one of the most impressive and dangerous missions.
During a severe “nor’easter” on the New England coast, T2 tankers SS Fort Mercer and the SS Pendleton broke in half. Because of the severe damage of the ship, the sailors were unable to make a distress call.
With the boat sinking and the sailors trying to find ways to survive, a Lifeboat Station in Chatam, Massachusetts discovered an unusual shore radar and Boatswain’s Mate First Class Bernard C. Webber, coxswain of Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500 from Station Chatham and his crew of three braved storm conditions in the ocean to save the sailors from the SS Pendleton.
And now the miraculous rescue has been adapted from the book by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias into a live action film by Disney titled “The Finest Hours” and will be released on Blu-ray in May 2016.
The film is directed by Craig Gillespie (“Lars and the Real Girl”, “Friday Night”, “Million Dollar Arm”) and features a screenplay by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson.
“The Finest Hours” stars Chris Pine (“Star Trek”, “Star Trek Into Darkness”, “Unstoppable”), Casey Affleck (“Gone Baby Gone”, “Good Will Hunting”, “Interstellar”, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”), Ben Foster (“3:10 to Yuma”, “Lone Survivor”, “Pandorum”), Eric Bana (“Star Trek”, “Hulk”, “Munich”), Holliday Grainger (“Cinderella”, “The Borgias”, “Jane Eyre”), Kyle Gallner (“American Sniper”, “Nightmare on Elm Street”, “The Haunting in Connecticut”) and many more.
“The Finest Hours” begins with an introduction to Bernard “Bernie” Webber (portrayed by Chris Pine). Bernie is a man of few words and he is a man who sticks by the rules and never diverts from orders.
That night, he and his friend are on a double date and Bernie would be meeting Miriam Pentinen (portrayed by Holliday Grainger).
The two date and Miriam proposes to Bernie for marriage and the two agree to get married on April 16th. As Bernie goes to ask for the day off from his station’s commander, Daniel Cluff (portrayed by Eric Bana), an oil tanker, the SS Pendelton is caught in a nor’easter and the tanker is sheared in half.
As the majority of the Coast Guard station’s crew having left to save the crew of the SS Fort Mercer (which also was sheared in half due to the nor’easter), Bernie and Engineman Third Class Andrew Fitzgerald (portrayed by Kyle Gallner), Seaman Richard Livesey (portrayed by Ben Foster) and Seaman Ervin Maske (portrayed by John Magaro) are tasked to find the SS Pendleton on a motor lifeboat CG 36500 which can only hold up to 12 people.
Meanwhile, on the SS Pendleton, many depend on the ship’s engineer, Ray Sybert (portrayed by Casey Affleck) to help them get out of trouble. But Ray tells them the truth that they are going to sink unless they come up with ideas.
With most of the crew not liking Ray, some want to escape by life boat but Ray tells them that due to the high waves, their boats would get destroyed.
Ray tells the crew that the only way to survive is to steer the sinking stern of the tanker onto a submerged reef, where the ship can temporarily lodge until rescuers arrive.
Back at home, Miriam finds out that station commander, Daniel Huff has sent them out. Miriam feels they are being sent on a suicide mission and requests that he tells them to come back. And because Huff is not from the area, many don’t trust his leadership because they feel his is unaware of how dangerous the nor’easter weather can be.
But Huff sticks to his guns and has Miriam kicked out of the station.
Meanwhile, Bernie must go through a series of shoals that are extremely dangerous in the bad weather and must time the bursts of his engine to ride each approaching wave before it breaks. Will he and his crew stay safe during their rescue attempt and will they find the SS Pendleton?
“The Finest Hours” is presented in 1080p High Definition and in 2:39:1 aspect ratio. When the film features good lighting, skin tones look natural and picture quality features good detail. But it’s important to note that the majority of the film is shot in the dark, while Bernie and his crew are out on the ocean in the dark. While the other crew on the SS Pendleton, the lights are low and often flickering. So, this is not the most vibrant film.
But the use of visual effects of nor’easter and the strong winds, high waves and making conditions look like a huge wind/snow storm. The effects make the film look effective, the weather looking nasty, cold and dark and works to the film’s efficacy.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Finest Hours” is presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English – Audio Description Track 2.0 and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Dialogue and music are crystal clear but the surround and rear surround channels are impressive as you can hear the boat’s engine, winds howling, metal crunching on the Pendleton and there is great use of the LFE during the low booms throughout the film. The lossless audio sounds fantastic throughout the film!
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“The Finest Hours” comes with the following special features:
- Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story – (14:10) The crew talk about their discussions with Bernie Webber and also discussing with locals who were around when the sailors were brought back to Cape Cod after the rescue.
- Deleted Scenes – (4:28) Featuring two deleted scenes.
- Brotherhood – (1:50) The cast and crew talk about working together and becoming brothers for the film.
- Two Crews – (2:02) A short featurette about the two crews featured in “The Finest Hours”.
- What Is Your Finest Hour? – (1:02) Real life member of the Coast Guard discuss their finest hour.
- The Finest Inspiration: The U.S. Coast Guard – (1:42) A featurette about the duties of the Coast Guard and how they are featured in the film.
“The Finest Hours” comes with a Digital HD Code.
One of the greatest rescues by the U.S. Coast Guard, many may not be familiar with the heroism which took place back in February 1952, but the story of how a crew of four were able to rescue a 32 people from a sinking tanker on a boat that can only hold up to 12-people is amazing!
The true story of how Bernie Webber and crew took a rescue boat in treacherous weather and was able to find the SS Pendleton and then find a way back home without a compass is no doubt a heroic triumph.
And there was no doubt that Disney via director Craig Gillespie would do a solid job in presenting that heroism of that day. Featuring wonderful visual effects to show the danger of the nor’easter storm and the challenges that both crews had to undertake, the heroic story is no doubt inspiring, but the film does have its problems.
While Chris Pine does a good job of playing the stoic Bernie Webber, I think that many people may find the New England accents a bit difficult to understand. And it’s not easy to comprehend when there is waves crashing everywhere, so I found that I had to turn on English subtitles to hear what’s going on. And there is a lot of Coast Guard terminology that I wasn’t familiar with, so that’s another situation that some viewers may feel lost while watching “The Finest Hours”.
But the problem is the use of its characters and while the rescue is straightforward, you can’t help but know that there is something amiss.
Why does Miriam fear the water? Did something bad happen to her that makes her demand to Williams’ Commander to bring them back home?
We see Miriam being picked up by another wife and there is dialogue about something that may have happened in the past and the woman telling her brother that Bernie shouldn’t be blamed? And you are asking yourself, “Blamed for what?”. Did Bernie Williams mess up big time in the past?
As for station commander, Daniel Cuff (portrayed by Eric Bana), reading about him online, he is presented as a distinguished officer and leader. Watching the film, Cuff comes off as a man that everyone distrusts and doesn’t know what he is doing. Is this an honest portrayal? Or was this retired serviceman given an unjust portrayal in the film?
When the film focuses on the Bernie and the rescue crew and the crew of the SS Pendleton, that is when the film works well. The straightforward story of rescue and survival works perfectly. Chris Pine and Casey Affleck do a solid job of playing men who are not the most verbal people, but they speak through their actions.
Unfortunately, the more dramatic aspects of the film involving Miriam, I felt it was a bit unnecessary. We know she worries about him but there was no reason to involve all these other characters because it muddles up the actual storyline and makes the pacing go off on unnecessary tangents.
But when the storyline focuses on the important rescue attempt and the dangers presented for both crews, the film works out very well! I was very impressed with the CG work and how the technology in making these storms look visually realistic has improved since George Clooney’s 2000 film “The Perfect Storm”.
As for the Blu-ray release, while the film takes place mostly in the dark or in stormy weather, one shouldn’t expect anything vibrant. Lighting was good when the film needs it but the visual effects of the crashing high waves and the perilous journey which the crews had to endure stood on the forefront of overall visuals and the picture quality was quite solid.
The best part of the film on Blu-ray is its lossless soundtrack which was magnificent! Great use of all channels and also solid LFE, audiophiles should be content with how awesome this film sounds.
And as for special features, you get a few short ones, but you get a solid “Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story” and hearing from Bernie’s daughter, the locals from the area and those who knew Bernie, it was great to watch.
Overall, “The Finest Hours” is a heroic disaster/drama thriller that details the incredible and miraculous rescue of the 30+ surviving crew of the SS Pendleton by four Coast Guard serviceman on a small 12-seater rescue boat in extremely dangerous conditions.
“The Finest Hours” is an entertaining film hampered by unnecessary scenes. Despite the film’s issues, you can’t help but enjoy the true story of American heroism and for that, “The Finest Hours” is a film on Blu-ray worth watching.
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