The 33

At the Movies Blog
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I feel a special bond with the 33 Chilean miners that were trapped for 69 days. That’s because around that time, I couldn’t think of a Halloween costume. So, I ordered a shirt with a Chilean flag on it, grew my beard, borrowed a miners hat and — instant costume. It was convenient, comfortable and not in bad taste, since they all survived. That might be something that takes away a bit of the drama, because just like Titanic, everybody knows how it’s going to end before it even starts.

A few “controversial” things have come up with this movie. One of them is being talked about, and the other is just a thought I had.

A handful of critics are talking about how the filmmakers should’ve had the cast speaking Spanish instead of English, and maybe cast Spanish speaking actors, too. I’m not sure those people realize…studios want to make money. They try to cast actors that are recognizable (Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips). They know the movie will sell better in the U.S. if people aren’t reading subtitles.

The other things that came to mind is, with it being talked about again recently (with release of Suffragette and Brooklyn) about how there just aren’t enough good roles for women. It’s movies like this that are the perfect example of why. The women in this are the wives, girlfriends, sisters, and mistresses. Even the amazingly talent Juliette Binochette, does a lot of standing around a fence and cooking food for the men in her life. But it’s the perfect example of why I’ve told women this is the case in Hollywood — it’s men that are going into mines and risking their lives. It is men that seem more believable as assassins, car thieves, boxers, etc. If Meryl Streep or Binochette movies made $100 million, there’s be a lot more roles for women in Hollywood.

This film is a well-executed dramatization that gets a bit cliche, and has so many characters it’s hard to do a lot with them. They all become the carictures; the womanizer, the alcoholic, the strong leader…

Critic Alison Gillmore said it best: “If only the scripters had dug deeper.”

Banderas, was very animated in a forgettable movie a few yeras ago. Here that energy is perfect.   We meet a few of the miners early on at a retirement party. Of course, he is still a few weeks away from retirement. Supervisor Don Lucho (Lou Diamond Phillips) gives some extra hours to  Mario Sepulbeda (Banderas). There’s a young man about to be a father (Mario Casas),who is reluctant to take a low paying job at an autobody shop.

We see an Elvis impersonator (Jacob Vargas, not Vegas) performing at the party. There’s Yonni Barrios (Oscar Nunez), who we see cheating on his wife, and we immediately think about how the news covered this as if the women discovered the other while waiting at the rescue site. It’s shown in the movie as something that was previously known.

There’s a Bolivian miner (Tenoch Huerta) that’s constantly harassed by the others.

We get the alcoholic (Juan Pablo Raba) that’s sleeping on a park bench, and the older sister (Juliette Binoche) that constantly worries about him.

After the collapse in the cave, we watch as the miners ration out what little food they have, sometimes bicker, and sometimes have philosophic takes on life. It would’ve been a bit more interesting to show some conversations instead of the constant drilling attempts. Those occur above ground, with Chile’s mining minister (Rodrigo Santoro) and engineer Andre Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne), constantly running into problems. An American drilling engineer has the perfect look — he’s played by James Brolin (it’s a rather small part).

The film was directed by Mexican-born Patricia Riggen (Girl in Progress, Under the Same Moon), and she does an adequate job with the script. One scene that shows the guys imagining the food they’d like to be consuming, was a nice touch on on a few different levels.

My complaint with The Martian was that it lacked drama. This movie lacked a claustrophobic vibe that it should’ve been able to convey.

It was entertaining enough and you won’t be disappointed if you go to see it. It’s a bit formula, but then, it was probably tough with a story that had this many characters.

Seeing the real miners at the end of the movie added nothing. A more powerful statement came at the start of the movie, where it mentioned that 12,000 miners die annually.

It was sad to see that James Horner, who did an interesting, understated score, worked on this. It was his last film.

This gets 2 ½ stars out of 5.

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