Friday, October 18, 2013

On Captain Phillips

There was a definite chill in the room before the lights went down and my screening of Captain Phillips began.
It was a feeling of uncertainty. No one quite knew what to expect. Granted there was already a book out written by the man himself, and one could easily guess the outcome based on the news reports back when the actual incident took place. But the bigger question wasn't related to "How is this going to end?" It was more a question of "Will they capture the intensity of the moment?" And in some ways they did.
What was sad to me about the film, what kept it from living up to expectations, may have indeed been a strength to the overall picture. Its honesty. So here is my harshest criticism... Some stories do not warrant dramatizations.

While on the surface a Pirate Hijacking sounds like an intense and exciting action thriller, Captain Phillips left much to be desired. The actual events... the way in which the pirates conceded at every step... the way in which the crew just sort of did nothing beyond their basic training and the only one who really seemed to step up when the going got tough was Phillips himself... left me waiting for something interesting to happen.

Now this is not intended to be a negative review. Much was good about the film. Tom Hanks did a fine job. Barkhad Abdi was convincing as hell. From a technical standpoint it was very solidly done. But the true story left too much on the table for my taste.
I live by the philosophy that motion pictures should be something that we cannot see in our everyday lives. Because film is an escape. In that capacity, for me, Captain Phillips failed. Now obviously, the film was not created to please me. And those events did happen. And even from my own philosophical standpoint, a pirate hijacking is something most people would never see in their regular lives. But this felt mostly like a film with one character (his name's in the title) and a whole bunch of wood fillers for actual people. When the screenplay comes from the book written by the man who didn't know anybody else involved all that well (new crew, new ship, new pirate invaders) it's hard to figure out what everyone else is thinking.
So what I guess I'm saying is, this film was not made for me. It may be made for you. And it'll definitely show up for a few award nods. So you may as well give it a chance. In this one situation I am just not a great source for approval.

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