I reviewed The Finest Hours for its theatrical release back in January, but my affinity for the charms of Chris Pine prompted me to give the film a second opportunity to win me over with the Blu-ray release. Regrettably, another viewing only worked to solidify my original opinion, so here’s what I said back at the beginning of the year:
Based on “the most daring rescue in US Coast Guard history,” The Finest Hours is a paint-by-numbers adventure that plays like a less-hazardous version of The Perfect Storm. Even as the shattered hull of the Pendleton continues to fill with water, or as Bernie and his men lose their compass and continue bravely into the open sea without being able to navigate, we never believe that any real peril exists for these characters.
Created mostly via sub-par CG effects – a rarity for a Disney film – the frequent showcase of chaotic weather conditions actually detracts from the film. Against the blackness of night, the forceful crashing of waves and the endless sheets of rain all blend together, and the majority of these sequences are so dark that it’s impossible to determine what the hell is happening on the screen.
The real-life story behind The Finest Hours has all the ingredients of a thrilling tale of heroism, but director Craig Gillespie is never quite able to bring those elements together. With its combination of one-note characters, mediocre visuals and a love story that feels like it belongs in a completely different film, The Finest Hours is much like the crew of the Pendleton – hopelessly adrift and praying for a rescue.
As with any Disney home video release, the video quality is top-notch here – which actually becomes something of a detriment to the experience as it highlights the relatively low quality of the many, many CG shots in The Finest Hours. The supplemental features offer little to get excited about, either – each is less than three minutes long, save for an interesting piece about the real-life events depicted in the film called Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story.
The Finest Hours is one of the weaker entries into Disney’s live-action library to come down the pipeline in recent years, and even though the audio and visual quality maintains the standard of quality the studio has become known for, there’s not enough here to justify a purchase.