Tag Archives: disaster

Deepwater Horizon – Review

2 Oct

On April 20, 2010, the offshore Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded which caused the worst oil spill in American history. I remember hearing all about it on the news and in school and watching the aftermath that almost destroyed an entire habitat of life. A lot of people don’t seem to be on board with making a movie about this tragedy so soon after it happened, but I’m on the side that it’s a good way to honor the people who lost their lives while also raising more attention for the people responsible and showing the viewer the terror of what happened on that rig. I wasn’t too thrilled with the trailers for Deepwater Horizon, so I had no intention of really liking this movie, and now after seeing it I have to say that it’s a stand out film of 2016.

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Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) seems to have it all. He has a loving wife, Felicia (Kate Hudson), a daughter, and a good, respectable job on the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig. At the start of one of his 3 week shifts on the rig, there’s some tension between his boss, Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), and BP representative Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich) over how fast they can get started extracting the oil. What Harrell and the rest of the crew are trying to get Vidrine to understand is the unsafe level of pressure in the tubing that can’t exist when they start excavating. Vidrine finds the tests run to be acceptable and pushes the job to start. This leads to a massive oil eruption which leads to an explosion that engulfs the entire oil rig. With time running out, Williams and the rest of the crew begin fighting for their lives to get to the life boats and help anyone on the rig that they possibly can.

Using words to summarize this movie really does no justice to how intense and thrilling Deepwater Horizon actually is. This is an expertly made film in so many different ways. Peter Berg’s directing style gives the film a very personal feeling and the intelligent use of handheld camerawork often gives the illusion that you’re walking with these characters on the Deepwater Horizon. What really puts this movie over the edge and turns it into a technical wonder is the sound design and visual effects. When the rig finally explodes the combination of the special effects and booming sound made my jaw drop. It was a wonder to look at, but never is anything over done. The goal of this movie obviously wasn’t to wow the audience with its technical achievements, but to create a realistic environment of terror and destruction to illustrate the danger these workers faced around ever corner. When Oscar season rolls around, I expect to see this film nominated for special effects and sound because it’s just outstanding work.

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One of the strengths of Deepwater Horizon is the realistic portrayal of the characters and how they succeed at getting the audience to relate to them easily. Mark Wahlberg gives a good performance as Mike Williams, and I’ll go on record saying that these types of roles are basically meant for him at this point. He’s great as playing a sort of everyman family guy that is thrown into situations he may be unprepared for. I also have to give major props to Kurt Russell, who I believe gives the best performance of this movie. I felt like I knew this guy, and that’s exactly what I’m trying to say about the characters being relatable. Finally, John Malkovich steals every scene he’s in as the BP executive that is just so easy to hate. Anyone who’s worked in a corporate company knows how off putting “corporate” folks can be, and seeing him manipulate and and put unreasonable pressure on the workers in this movie was infuriating. It’s hard to call him a villain in this movie, but a lot of his action and motivations can only be described as villainous.

The only possible fault I can give this movie is its pushing of a certain agenda. I understand that movies exist partially so film makers can have a voice and express their thoughts and beliefs, but when a movie has an agenda that is so clear and pushed so hard, it can become annoying. That’s mainly why I can’t really get into the work of Oliver Stone. This film is nowhere near as guilty as something like American Sniper, but it does have its moments where I felt like Berg was preaching to me and laying his beliefs on pretty strong in that obnoxious kind of way. The strange thing is that I agree with a lot of what this movie is trying to say, but some of it didn’t have to be done in such a heavy handed way. These are just a few instances, and overall I think it was handled pretty well.

I really wasn’t to keen on seeing this movie, but I’m so happy I did. Deepwater Horizon is an extremely intense movie that is a technical marvel and bolsters some pretty good performances. While it does push certain ideas pretty hard, it rarely gets bogged down in what it’s trying to say and it works best as a testament to the bravery and strength that can be latent in everyday human beings. This is an exhausting movie that will make you feel that you just got whacked with a sledgehammer, but it’s a film that shouldn’t be missed.

Final Grade: A-

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Hereafter – Review

7 Aug

Death is not an easy topic to understand or explore since people have so many interpretations of what it is exactly and what happens after we take the ultimate power nap. Some see it as a biological shut down in which nothing happens except total darkness. Others see it as a new beginning and an awakening to another, better life. Hereafter examines both of these possibilities flawlessly without getting religious or preachy.

 

Marie LeLay (Cecile de France) is a French journalist who experiences a death while in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami. She sees images that can not be forgotten and feels driven to report on what she saw, even though it seems like no one really wants to hear about it.  George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is a psychic who is doing his best to avoid using his powers because he does not want his life to focus on death. This becomes difficult after a woman, Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard), begs him to do a reading in which he uncovers secrets that should not be revealed. Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are two young English boys dealing with their drug addict mother. When one of the boys is struck by a car and killed, the other goes on a crusade in order to contact him. These paths converge at a critical point, and all the views and beliefs concerning death intersect.

First off, I just want to point out that I love films like this, where there are different story lines that meet at a certain point. The writer is pretty much writing three different movies and then has to connect them in some believable way. The connection in Hereafter is a little weak and delayed compared to most films in this style, but it was still believable if only a little unfulfilling.

 

This movie struck me as dynamically intense, if I may describe it as such. The opening scene with the Thai tsunami was frightening in that it actually happened and many people died in real life. Seeing it so vividly portrayed onscreen gives the viewer a whole new look of it through dramatic presentation. Then the movie gets intense in a much quieter way, with the different characters dealing with a tornado of questions and feelings surrounding loss of a loved one, a ruined history, or a troubled future. These quiet moments are interrupted with spurts of disaster that shows a much darker and violent side to life and death.

The acting in this movie is stunning all around. Damon knocks it out of the park with his performance, making him one of the most relatable characters ever seen on the big screen, despite his supernatural power. Cecile de France matches Damon’s intensity and the McLaren brothers surprise me with their acting chops. In a much more supporting role, Bryce Dallas Howard steals every scene she is in with her lovable personality and her jaw dropping looks. Seriously though, Bryce Dallas Howard…quite the looker.

 

As I said before, Clint Eastwood and writer Peter Morgan deal with death in a spiritual way, but they never get religious or preachy. We hear “Christ” once in the movie while death is being discussed, but it is immediately dismissed. While the idea of God and Jesus is blown over, it doesn’t mean that the movie or its makers don’t have respect for religion. The choice to not use it as a tool or reference point is smart so that many different people, atheists or otherwise, may enjoy this film for its open mindedness and interesting characters.

Eastwood delivers once again with Hereafter, a dynamic, thought provoking, and mature drama that can either make you depressed or hopeful. This isn’t a movie that will go by without discussion or possibly even some inner conflict for the viewer. Hereafter is a film that I would call “required viewing.” Don’t miss this one.