Thursday, November 19, 2015

[Review] The 33

"If we don't get them out fast, we're going to be digging up 33 corpses."

No one except for the miners involved in 2010's Chilean cave-in knows exactly what happened down there, but The 33 is here to dramatize the events on the big screen. Antonio Banderas stars as one of the trapped miners in this portrayal of an incredible tale of survive and rescue.

In a solid move, the film doesn't spend too much time stalling with preparation details (unlike this year's Everest). The miners enter the mine early on, the danger is made known just by the rugged setting and the looks on their faces, and the intense collapse sequence happens within the first few minutes of their arrival. When the crew realizes there's no possible way they can get out on their own, their forced to survive and wait in hopes that the outside world will come to their aid.

On the outside, there's conflict between the families of the miners and city officials, as the government halts any rescue missions, thinking it might create more danger while assuming the miners are already dead. As more time passes, of course tension mounts between the men in the mine, especially considering such a claustrophobic and unforgiving situation. Unsurprisingly, it's difficult for the film to distinguish so many different characters, so most of the focus is put on Banderas' character--the one that takes on the leadership role and instills hope in the crew.

Even though The 33 does cross a tad far into melodramatic territory at times, the setting feels pretty authentic and the actors actually appear to be completely miserable--skin caked in dirt and sweat as they struggle in a place where sunlight is non-existent and food & water rations are pessimistically low. The film gets exhausting over its 2-hour runtime, mostly because it splits 50/50 between the underground scenes and the above-ground scenes. The former are the most compelling and gritty, while the latter comes off as mundane (and forced) news report recreations.

The 33 is a 'based on a true story' film that could do better, but it could also do a lot worse. It does deliver on its emotional impact in the end, and its heart is in the right place.


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