Film Review: The Finest Hours

The Finest Hours

Based on real events, The Finest Hours is an engaging adventure drama. There are some schmaltzy moments, but the film entertains throughout.

Bernie Webber is a member of the Coast Guard at Cape Cod. When a pair of oil tankers are battered in a 1952 storm, Bernie and his team concentrate on how to reach them. Back on land, Bernie’s sweetheart Miriam worries about his safety…

Director Craig Gillespie mixes disaster movie with drama in The Finest Hours. Set in the early 1950s, the film certainly has nostalgic appeal. The opening scenes in particular immediately situate viewers in the era. Music goes a long way to setting the scene, as does the brilliant costume design. In a way, the film feels like a throwback, with its wholesome characters. There is a charm to this quaintness, more than anything else.

The characters are developed as much as they need to be for the purposes of the plot. Protagonist Bernie is given sufficient depth to explain his actions later in the film. His relationship with Miriam gives the film heart, and makes it easier for the audience to empathise with him. The crew of the tanker are given enough material to interact believably in the perilous situation. Although their fates are important in The Finest Hours, the film concentrates more on giving depth to its protagonist.

Gillespie’s direction has drive in the action sequences. The level of energy fits the tone of the film. Special effects are good, as is the production design. The level of discomfort of both the rescuers and stranded seems accurately portrayed. Chris Pine is well cast as the classic American hero. Casey Affleck is good in a fittingly subdued performance. Holliday Grainger appears authentic in her role.

The Finest Hours is formulaic in its narrative, yet the tone and action sequence are commendable. The film harks back to an earlier era, which is no bad thing.

Film Review: Fright Night

This new version of Fright Night does not match the 1985 original. Having said that, it is still tremendous fun, and one of better films in the recent spate of horror remakes.

High school student Charlie Brewster is dating the popular and beautiful Amy. He has left behind his geeky ways, much to the annoyance of former best friend Ed. When a new neighbour moves in next door, Charlie becomes suspicious of the things he hears in the night. He suspects that new neighbour Jerry is a vampire, but no one believes him…

Director Craig Gillespie and screenwriter Marti Noxon eschewed the option of producing a faithful update of Tom Holland’s 1985 film. Thankfully they chose to alter the screenplay significantly. The changes made offer a sense of unpredictability to those familiar with the 1985 film. Although the film seems a little preoccupied with the social hierarchy of high school, for the most part these alterations work well.

The characters have also been changed for this remake. Perhaps most interesting of the updates in Peter Vincent. Holland wisely chooses not to emulate the Roddy McDowell character in terms of stature and personality. Instead, the character is much younger and more comparable to Criss Angel than McDowell’s Vincent Price-type legend. This makes the film more distinguishable from its predecessor, which is only a good thing.

Fright Night offers the same blend of comedy and horror as the original. There are some jumpy moments in the film, as well as a healthy dose of gore. The comedy, however, keeps the tone of the film light for the duration. There are also some amusing references to Twilight, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and even the original film, as well as a great cameo appearance.

The special effects are sometimes lacking, but even this is in keeping with the overall jovial tone of the movie. The 3D seems to have been employed purely for novelty value. Nonetheless, this doesn’t really matter, as it is fun in a throwback, schlock kind of way.

Colin Farrell is well cast as Jerry. The actor is perfectly suited to the role, bringing the right combination of menace and allure. Anton Yelchin once again offers a solid performance; the actor is quickly becoming one of the brightest young talents in Hollywood. David Tennant is wonderfully outlandish as Peter Vincent; he clearly seems to be having much fun with the role.

Fright Night should satisfy those with a hankering for comedy horror, and shouldn’t offend fans of the original film. An enjoyable watch.