Though two months have passed since Warner Bros.’ "In the Heart of the Sea" flopped, rather spectacularly, at the box office, that Ron Howard/Chris Hemsworth debacle must be weighing on Disney executives’ minds as the release date for "The Finest Hours" (January 29) approaches.
After all, the two films have plenty in common. Both are period-set high-seas adventures, adapted from popular nonfiction titles and starring Hollywood heartthrobs. In the case of "The Finest Hours," based on the true story of the rescue of two oil tankers destroyed in a "Perfect Storm"-strength nor’easter off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952, that hunk is Chris Pine—supported by Holliday Grainger and Casey Affleck—but his charisma (see his Captain Kirk, in J.J. Abrams’ "Star Trek" reboot) can’t seem to engage critics in the context of the film’s old-fashioned approach. Indeed, it appears that "The Finest Hours" and "In the Heart of the Sea" will share one more thing: middling-to-negative reviews.
As directed by Craig Gillespie ("Million Dollar Arm," "Lars and the Real Girl"), "The Finest Hours" is at least earnest, which may hold more appeal than its "ponderous" predecessor, but with the exception of the climactic CG-aided set piece, it’s been damned with backhanded compliments and faint praise. If the critics are to be believed, "The Finest Hours" is, sigh, just fine, which may not be enough to convince moviegoers to brave the elements to see it.
Read excerpts from reviews of the film below.
Andrew Barker, Variety:
"[P]erhaps the worst one could say about Craig Gillespie’s film
is that, rather than their finest hours, the whole cast and crew all put in a
solid shift at the office making the movie, producing a perfectly entertaining,
sometimes quite well-crafted disaster drama that nonetheless retreats from the
memory almost as soon as the credits roll."
Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter:
"[‘The Finest Hours’] is unapologetically old-school in a way that suits the ‘greatest
generation’ vibe of unassuming ingenuity and lack of pretension. Leads Chris
Pine and Casey Affleck are fully in sync with that sensibility, even as they’re
surrounded by a collection of disaster-genre types rather than full-blooded
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap:
"Even the movie’s secret weapon—British actress Holliday
Grainger (‘The Borgias’), whose classic-Hollywood looks and poise would have
made her the toast of RKO in the 1940s—can’t save the day, since she’s paired
romantically with an uncharacteristically stiff Chris Pine in a love story
that’s awkwardly inserted into the seafaring stuff."
John Hazelton, Screen Daily:
"Though visually boosted with CG effects, this
based-on-a-true-story Disney action-thriller is for the most part an old
fashioned account of watery derring-do, complete with a boyish hero, a
rosy-cheeked sweetheart (played by Chris Pine and Holliday Grainer, backed by
Casey Affleck) and some pretty corny dialogue and performances."