In February of 1952, one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast struck New England, damaging an oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod and literally ripping it in half. On a small lifeboat faced with frigid temperatures and 70-foot high waves, four members of the Coast Guard set out to rescue more than 30 stranded sailors trapped aboard the rapidly-sinking vessel.Written by
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What Bernie Webber, Richard Livesey, Andy Fitzgerald and Ervin Maske accomplished on the night of February 18, 1952 is still considered the greatest small boat rescue in Coast Guard history. Bernie and Miriam were married on the date she planned. And they remained married for 58 years until Bernie's death in 2009 at the age 81. All four Coast Guardsmen were awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their heroic actions.
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Good ol' fashioned disaster-and-rescue drama is better than the "experts" would have you believe
"The Finest Hours" (2016 release; 117 min.) brings the telling, "based on a true story" we are reminded, of a daring rescue attempt at sea. As the movie opens, it is "Wellfleet, MA, November 1951", and we get to know two Coast Guarders who are out on a double date. Bernie (played by Chris Pine) is immediately smitten by Miriam *played by Holiday Grainger). The movie then shifts to February 17, 1952, where Bernie and Miriam are attending a party, and they decide to get married in April. Later that night, as a nor'easter is bearing down, the Pendleton tanker is in serious trouble, and before we know it, Bernie is ordered to assemble a crew and go out to find any survivors of the Pendleton. To tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is a big budget movie from Disney Studios, directed by Craig Gillespie ("Lars and The Real Girl"; "Million Dollar Arm"). If you have seen the movie's trailer (which as been inescapable in the theaters in recent weeks), you know exactly what you are in for: a bigger-than-life, against-all-odds rescue attempt of the crew of the Pendleton tanker, which has split in two, by a four man crew of the Coast Guard in Chatham, MA. Don't ask me how the Pendleton's remaining half tanker doesn't sink! I think it has something to do with the boat's balancing tanks, but in the end it doesn't matter, as we are here to witness some of the wildest open sea disaster scenes you'll ever see. In a sense, this reminds of "Titanic", except that the action scenes are pumped up and on steroids. Chris Pine (as Bernie) and Casey Affleck (as the Pendleton's main guy) are fine, but to be honest, they and the rest of the gang are all second fiddle to the special effects. I know that it's all CGI, yet it looks so darn realistic! The movie has a great orchestral score, courtesy of veteran composer Carter Burwell (his score for "Carol" received an Oscar nomination). Also make sure to stay through the movie's end titles, as we then get a bunch of period pictures from the Boston Globe and other news sources with the real life people from the events (and likely the source of the costuming for the film). Last but not least, this is released both in 2D and 3D, but just know that the movie was shot in 2D and then converted into 3D (I saw it in 2D). Bottom line: "The Finest Hours" is a good ol' fashioned disaster-and-rescue drama that is much better than the "experts" would have you believe.
"The Finest Hours" opened nationally this weekend, and the Friday evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was attended okay but not great. somewhat to my surprise. Regardless, if you are in the mood for an effects-heavy but very realistic disaster-and-rescue movie, I encourage you to check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray (although a movie of this kind just begs to be seen on the big screen). "The Finest Hours" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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