HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Captain Phillips
HTS Overall Score:89
It seems that it’s the time for films that are based on true stories. Last week it was “The Butler” and this week we have the thriller “Captain Phillips” which was based upon the real life captain Phillips and the harrowing capture of the “Alabama” freighter by Somalian pirates. Captain Phillips co-wrote a book upon the events and thusly it has gone to the film world as well. Todd’s review of “The Butler” got me thinking about reality of these stories as well as the story that the film maker is trying to tell. How much embellishing is acceptable? And how much should we try to disassociate the real life events from the fictional re-telling on the silver screen? That’s always a tough question and one that probably is left up to the viewer to decide. While the events of “The Butler” are known to be most CERTAINLY embellished and twisted around to tell a story, “Captain Phillips” is a bit more complicated. While the film and book paint Captain Phillips as the main character, and a heroic victim, the crew have come forward each with their own story, as well as the stories from the U.S. Navy men who were involved. While normally the facts can be straightened out, there’s the unfortunate side effect of having money involved, and with so much on the stake there’s some definite room for interpretation of exactly WHO was the hero of the story. All of this to say, while there are some issues with WHO the shining knight is in the film, the film itself is much more accurate than your everyday “based on a true story” film and is a nail biting thriller from beginning to end.
Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is an everyday captain of the freighter “Alabama”. Carrying a load of medical supplies and water across the horn of Africa he and his crew run into something that hasn’t happened to a U.S. vessel since the 19th century. A crew of Somalian pirates not only set upon the ship, but actually board and take over the vessel. Led by Muse (Barkhad Abdi), with a crew of 3 other pirates, they board the “Alabama” and take Captain Phillips and his navigator hostage. The rest of the crew has already hidden in the engine room and locked themselves in, which means that the Captain is at the helm trying to keep his men safe. Sending them on a wild goose chase around the ship, Captain Phillips keeps the pirates away from the men for only so long. With one of the pirates injured by broken glass and leaving Muse alone in the engine room a struggle for dominance occurs. The crew members capture Muse and try to negotiate a hostage exchange and whatever money is in the ships safe. As you probably know, it’s not the best idea to trust a pirate, and Captain Phillips pays the consequences. As soon as Muse is returned to the pirates, they renig on their deal and take Captain Phillips with them in the powered life boat.
Here the story changes positions, while the 1st half of the film was the ship and its crew fighting for their lives against the pirates, it’s now become a chase film, with Phillips as a hostage aboard the boat as the pirates’ race against time for the Somalian coast. Normally the pirates would have a safe ride home, but the crew has already contacted the U.S. Navy and the U.S.S. Bainbridge, is hot on the pirates trail. With only a few hours till the coast the Bainbridge overtakes the life boat and now has to figure out a way to not only nail the pirates, but get Captain Phillips out of there alive, safe and sound.
I saw the trailers for “Captain Phillips” during the summer and wrote it off as another Tom Hanks vanity projects, due to the lackluster look of the trailers and passed on it for other more “worthy” films. Now, months later I have a huge plate of crow in front of me and am looking for the knife and fork. The film was a true nail biter from beginning to end. For a movie that we know the basic ending to already, Paul Greengrass did an admirable job of keeping the audience engaged and emotionally involved with the story. I did feel that there’s was about 20 minutes that could have been trimmed out of the middle act, but overall the film was tense, aggressive and didn’t have me looking at my watch at all. The first act starts out as a simple pirate invasion, but changes gear midway to military chase with Phillips fighting to stay alive and scared spit less that the military and the pirates won’t come to a peaceful decision and they all go down in flames. The Final scene of the movie was gripping as you watch Phillips, in utter post traumatic shock, stuttering, sobbing, losing his train of thought as the emotions and tension of the last 24 hours just flows from his body in waves, drenching the audience with all the pent up fear and sadness that he wasn’t able to let out until now.
Paul Greengrass being the director made me both excited and nervous for the film. I love Greengrass’s storytelling, but I really loathe his use of shaky camera work. Luckily we got the best of both world with fantastic direction and little to no shaky cam work for the majority of the film. Hanks gives a stellar performance as the Captain who is both hero and terrified victim at once, and newcomer Barkhad Abdi plays and. frighteningly authentic pirate leader. A man both torn between the whip of the warlords at his back, and the desire to save his own life, giving a wildly complex villain who we can be empathize with and revile at the same time.
Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=14216[/img]Sony is known for their stellar transfer for day and date films and “Captain Phillips” is right up there with them as one of the newly “mastered in 4K” line of transfers. With a stunning 2.40:1 AVC encode the disc looks near flawless. The colors are rich and saturate the decks of the ships with bright orange and blue and green cargo containers and the blue of the ocean is truly breathtaking. The detail level is simply exceptional with the finest detail being easy to spot, whether it be the individual grey and brown hairs in Tom Hank’s beard of the sweat droplets running down the pirates faces as they gasp for air in the sweltering life boat. Black levels are mostly good, with the only real downsides of the film are in some of the below decks moments, where the image shows some mosquito noise and artifacting due to the low light levels and digital cameras. Overall the picture is just short of perfect with those individual instances of mosquito noise and mild detail loss being the only thing to keep it from a perfect 5/5.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=14217[/img]While the video encode was JUST short of perfect, I can’t say the same about the audio track. Instead of just falling short it surges forward with a flawless 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that just envelopes the user from the get go. Cranes are creaking from all angles as cargo crates are lifted aboard, the ships horns nearly shatter windows with a deep, thunderous roar that vibrates your pant legs and the surrounds pretty much never stop the whole time. I was truly impressed with the amount of accurate auditory detail that I could differentiate in the film. Every sound had its own unique tone and LFE depth to it, from the plink of AK-47 rounds hitting the sides of the ship to the thudding chop of helicopter blades as it hovers over the life boat. Last but now least, we have the LFE. People expecting a LOUD bass track, ala “Pacific Rim”, where your ears are vibrating from the assault, may be a tad disappointed, but the track is nonetheless a stellar LFE track with a deep and rich tone to the entire film. The bass is tight and EXTREMELY detailed and accurate giving the proper amount of depth and fullness to each individual sound. Most noticeable was the score with a rippling bombardment of DEEEEEEEEEEP and tight bass that saturates the sound field as well as sonic attack of the waves crashing against the lifeboat. Honestly I was truly shocked at how well integrated the LFE channel was with the rest of the track, never seeming anemic or not present, but at the same time never imposing on the rest of the 5 channels. Dialogue was crisp and clear with only a HINT of the dynamic range being a bit too wide at some points, with a few lines of dialogue hard to hear over the sounds of the ocean.
• Directors Commentary
• Capturing "Captain Phillips"
“Captain Phillips” looks and sounds beautiful with some wonderful direction from the venerable Paul Greengrass. The only real complaint that I have with this release is that the film could have used with a few minutes of trimming during the middle portion of the film, and the extras are rather lackluster, but don’t let that persuade you from not picking up the film. It’s a truly tense filled movie that shows a different look at pirates, other than the stereotyped “swashbucklers”. Gripping and brimming with emotion it is a fantastic film and one that I have no reservations about recommending as a blind buy. A+ from me.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Shane Murphy, Mike Perry, Catherine Keener
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Written by: Billy Ray
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Sony Pictures
Blu-Ray Release Date: January 21st, 2014
Buy Captain Phillips Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Buy It
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