Monday, October 14, 2013

Movie Review: Captain Phillips

Rating: *****

Just to show the movie studios a little something important -- grown-up movies done right still rule the box office. Two very grown-up films Captain Phillips and Gravity dominated the box office ticket sales in a refreshing change since a summer onslaught of terrible movies. After seeing Captain Phillips, I actually noted how refreshing it was that we weren't be subjected to films targeted toward 12-year-old boys and pre-teens.

This gritty, realistic and action-packed movie is filmed in that handheld camera style that has become popular that gives it a sense of frenetic realism. Now I am not a fan of this style and find it hard to follow and a little annoying, but I soon got over it. The film has a documentary-style to it and creates such a normal everyday feel about it. Any stars in the film are hidden behind their average, everyday appearances. Hanks' Capt. Phillips comes across as a normal family man who runs his ship with a stern, polite manner. Then the movie flashes to the shores of Ethiopia where the pirate crew is being assembled to attack the freighter. What I found especially refreshing was the use of Ethiopian actors whose looks had less to do with winning the roles than their authenticity. No glamorous actors were selected for the roles of the pirates, which gave the film even more realism. In other words don't expect to see some famous African-American actors in the roles.

The movie moves quickly and swiftly to the hijack situation. Again, each move of the ship and each order given by Phillips comes across as real and absorbs the viewer right into the life-or-death tale. Between the tension built between Phillips and the pirates and the crews move to survive and not be captured, the film never misses a beat. As a screenwriter and novelist, I paid close attention to the writing that wasn't at all glamourous, but again done with what I would assume was well-researched information. I don't like to give away spoilers so that is all I will say. As far as performances, here is my prediction: Hanks will be nominated come award season, especially for his portrayal of the shell-shocked captain. Tears came to my eyes as the poor man faces the horror of what just happened to him. You never once didn't believe that didn't just happen to Hanks, and when an actor so inhabits a characters' skin then that is the performance to remember.

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