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Disney’s “The Finest Hours” – Teri’s Take

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Disney’s “The Finest Hours” opens in theaters nationwide this Friday.

The film is derived from a true story about four United States Coast Guardsmen who take off into horrific weather on a “suicide mission” to try and find survivors of a sinking oil tanker. To this day it is still considered the greatest small boat rescue in Coast Guard history.

On February 18, 1952, a tremendous nor’easter (artic cold storms that mainly affect the northeastern part of the United States) struck New England and the Eastern seaboard inflicting deadly damage to anything in its path.
The U.S. Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts receives word that a damaged vessel was adrift just beyond the bar in the treacherous seas.

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Warrant Officer Daniel Cluff (Eric Bana) dispatches, a CG 36500 lifeboat, manned by Captain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) to search for survivors. Webber pulls together a reluctant crew; made up of: Richard Livesey (Ben Foster) a veteran Coast Guard seaman, Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner) a third-class engineer, and Ervin Maske (John Magaro) a sailor waiting to return to his light ship who decided to volunteer. Webber and his crew set out as ordered into the storm, through hurricane force winds and 60-70 foot waves in search of the SS Pendleton and its crew.

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The SS Pendleton was a T-2 oil tanker that was caught in the storm and literally torn in half. The stern of the tanker had 33 men aboard doing their best to keep it from sinking until hopefully some help arrived. The first assistant engineer of the SS Pendleton, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) is the one who ultimately ends up taking charge in hopes of keeping the stern afloat until they are found and hopefully rescued.

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The story has a triumphant ending where 32 men are rescued from the SS Pendleton, bringing a total of 36 men home aboard the 12 person 36-foot lifeboat.

I went into the film blind, not knowing anything about the story or the movie besides the trailers. I wanted to experience it with no expectations. I was able to see it to experience it in IMAX 3-D.

This film does a magnificent job at telling the heroic story of the men who braved the waters that night. It is worth seeing for the remarkable story behind it and the fast-paced visuals that really make you feel as if you are on the boats with the actors. I was immediately taken by the performance of the life guard boat 36500 and all of the amazing things that it could do in such rough seas. So much so that I went home I spent some time reading about the original incident to learn more.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was amazed at everything that these men did to survive, one of the most touching moments of the film was the very end right before the credits. Disney and the director Craig Gillespie took such care honoring the people from this unbelievable true story that they showed photographs of the cast portraying them next to the actual photographs from the event. The likeness of the cast to the true heroes was amazing. Those photographs were truly touching and brought tears to my eyes.

Note: I was a little apprehensive about seeing the film in IMAX 3-D with a good portion of the movie happening at sea. I did not feel sea sick at all and felt immersed in the action with this large format.


Lover of all things Disney since I was a child and with a new child of my own, excited to experience everything through his eyes.

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