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In 2010, 44 Chilean miners were buried alive following a catastrophic mine collapse. For 69 days, a team worked night and day to rescue the men as their families and the world waited for any sign of hope. Underground, in the suffocating heat 200 stories down, tensions ran high as provisions - and time - began to run out. (From the WB synopsis)

 33, The
The 33 is one of those movies telling a true story that seems made with the best intentions but plays it safe to a fault. It has a decent cast, it is competently shot, but the handling of the story and the characters is closer to something you'd find on the Lifetime channel. It's also a little too long, but it feels a bit wrong to whine about that when the subject matter is miners being trapped for 69 days. The story opens with a little bit of background story and family time for a few of the miners. Shortly after we get some really unsubtle foreshadowing in the form of a concerned miner being dismissed by his boss, and before you know it things the central conflict is in action. The screenplay doesn't waste much time getting the miners into their predicament, but things get a lot slower and a lot less interesting.

From there we spend an equal amount of time alternating between events above ground and events underground. The underground events are the stronger scenes. Antonio Banderas plays a leader and mentor to the other miners trying to keep them in line as times get tough. Banderas is solid and reliable, even if it doesn't come close to his most memorable roles. In one of the film's best scenes the miners sit around a table and fantasize about their loved ones bringing them their favorite dishes. Being a true and recent story, I don't think I'm spoiling anything when I reveal that the miners were eventually found and saved. They are located long before they are actually rescued from the collapsed mine. In the interim, when the miners have access to outside goods and news again, the miners fight over the things they are given and the way the news is portraying them. I can't claim to be an expert on the true story behind The 33, but the dramatic tension here feels completely manufactured by the writers and doesn't hold much water on its own merits. It just happens, Banderas's character gives a little speech, and then the movie moves on.

 33, The
The above ground scenes offer more to look at but are extremely formulaic. There are many scenes that follow Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), the Minister of Mining in Chile at the time. He forms a correspondence with Maria Segovia (Juliette Binoche in a questionable casting choice), a woman waiting to find out what has happened to her brother in the mine. Many scenes take place between Golborne and engineer Andrew Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne in another questionable casting choice). They fight over the approach to finding the miners in more scenes that feel manufactured to add more tension to the screenplay. It's not convincing or compelling, just tedious. The screenplay spreads itself a bit thin trying to cover many aspects of the rescue operation above ground. The 33 could've benefited from tighter storytelling and spending more time getting to know the miners themselves.

 33, The

Video


The 1080p transfer from WB for The 33 looks fine, but as you can probably imagine this is not the kind of movie that pops visually as half of it is spent underground. Because of this, good black levels are essential and I'm relieved to say they look great on this disc. While artefacts are noticeable from time to time, most of the action that takes place beneath the surface is discernible and consistent in the image department. Above ground scenes have a dry, sun-tinged orange look to them that reflects the setting and also fits the inspirational vibes of the movie well. Detail is also consistently impressive, but again, bear in mind there isn't a lot to look at for long stretches of this story.

Audio


Even though I didn't have a lot of nice things to say about the film, it is a quality production. You can tell it had a budget behind it. This is especially evident in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which is quite active. Early party scenes are bustling with noise. The mine collapse scene is appropriately bombastic with rumbling LFE channels and surrounding chaos. When the miners are underground and hear drills missing their location you can listen to the drill pass with impressive directional touches. Dialogue is easy to make out but the actors are all speaking English and it is clearly not their first language. Sometimes the accents can be difficult to make out. English SDH subtitles are present if needed.

 33, The

Extras


Special features begin with The Mine Collapse (HD, 03:54). This is an EPK style clip with some behind the scenes footage and some brief interviews with the filmmakers speaking broadly about the production. Next is The 33: The World is Watching (HD, 03:05) which more of the same with different footage used. These play like extended advertisements. A theatrical trailer is also present on the disc.

Overall


The 33 has its heart in the right place, but it is a boring and safe approach to an inspiring story. The drama, which the screenplay tries desperately to find in every single facet of the story, just isn't compelling or convincing. You're better off reading articles on the 2010 incident. This blu-ray release from WB looks and sounds good but the extras are just fluff.

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* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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