The Finest Hours Blu-ray Review

THE SET-UP
The true story of the rescue of the Pendleton tanker crew off of the coast of Massachusetts in 1952 is chronicled. Stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Eric Bana.
Directed by Craig Gillespie.


THE DELIVERY
The Finest Hours is a throwback to classic Hollywood adventure dramas, buoyed by fine performances by Chris Pine and Casey Affleck. The film tells the real-life story of the sinking of the tanker ship Pendleton in 1952 and the efforts to save the crew. Pine plays Bernie Webber, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard who took a small boat and a crew of three and pulled off one of the greatest rescues in Coast Guard history. That’s not exactly spoiling anything; it’s pretty obvious there’s a happy ending coming. But like the story of Apollo 13, the real appeal of the story is the journey, not just the ending.

Chris Pine delivers a heartfelt performance as Coast Guardsman Bernie Webber, and his work is a departure from the usual cocky roles he takes on in films like Star Trek. It’s wonderfully understated, and his approach to his character gives the audience a real underdog hero to root for.

Affleck looks and acts like he just fell out of a 1950s World War II epic (and that's a good thing), and his turn as Ray Sybert, the engineer of the doomed tanker, brings depth and emotion to what could have been a cardboard supporting character.


Director Craig Gillespie fashions the film to look and feel like a piece of 1950s cinema, and it works for the most part, but there are shortcomings. The movie can be formulaic at times, but even the paint-by-the-numbers approach doesn’t lessen the entertainment level. Gillespie could have built more tension, quickened the pace, and created a greater sense of the dangerous scope, all of which would have done the story more justice. For a film that tried to capture classic Hollywood melodrama, it is woefully short of meaningful drama that leaves a lasting impression with the viewer. It’s riveting, to be sure, but the thrills leave no real lasting effect.

The Finest Hours is certainly entertaining from start to finish, and the cast, from Pine to Bana, all turn in fine performances. Given the subject matter, however, it needed more gravitas to match the history. It’s a good movie, just not the finest.


VIDEO AND AUDIO
The Finest Hours Blu-ray sports an excellent transfer that presents the image with exceptional clarity and sharpness. Much of the film takes place on a dark and stormy night, so an image that renders every small detail and the variances of grays and blacks is essential. The high definition image is certainly up to the challenge; this disc looks great on a home screen. The sounds is a fantastic 7.1 DTS-HDMA mix, which is at its best when it envelops the listener in multi-channel goodness during the storm scenes.



SPECIAL FEATURES
The Blu-ray features a number of featurettes and promo spots, and one nicely done “behind-the-scenes” featurette, which delves into the real-life history. Special features include:

“Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story” featurette. The real-life story that inspired The Finest Hours is recounted. The original authors of the book, director Craig Gillespie, and residents of the town of Chatham, Massachusetts all discuss the events shown in the film. The featurette provides excellent background to the real-life story. Running time: 14:10

Deleted Scenes. Two deleted scenes are included: “A Desperate Idea” and “The Story of How They Met.”


“Brotherhood” featurette. Chris Pine and the other actors discuss the camaraderie that developed between the men on the set. Running time: 1:49.

“Two Crews” featurette. This short featurette is a primer for the film’s story. Running time: 2:02

“What Is Your Finest Hour?” promo spot. This promotional piece for the film includes a real-life recent tale of rescue from a member of the U.S. Coast Guard. Running time: 1:02

“The Finest Inspiration: The U.S. Coast Guard” promo spot. The modern U.S. Coast Guard is featured, and includes interviews with men and women who currently serve. Running time: 1:42.


THE BOTTOM LINE: The Finest Hours is a thrilling, old fashioned adventure
The Finest Hours is a good film, with outstanding performances. It isn’t a great film, as it falls short of being truly memorable, but it is certainly worth a watch.


BLU-RAY SPECS
Release Date: May 24, 2016
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 117 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Special Features: “Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story” featurette; Two deleted scenes; “Brotherhood” featurette; “Two Crews” featurette; “What Is Your Finest Moment?” promo spot; “The Finest Inspiration: The U.S. Coast Guard” promo spot.
Label: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Click here to order The Finest Hours on Blu-ray from Amazon!


Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of several websites, and his writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, Cinelinx.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. You can follow him on his blog, VictorMedina.com or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at vic@victormedina.com.

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