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Title: The 33

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2.5stars:

HTS Overall Score:79

I still remember 6 years ago when the whole world was talking about Chile. Before that most people didn’t exactly bring up the South American country up in common conversation, but in this year a 100 year old copper and gold mine in Chile had suffered a collapse trapping 33 men underground. What ensued next can only be described as a media sensation, with an international team of drillers and foreign aid volunteers working around the clock for 69 days to find these men and bring them back up to the surface alive. “The 33” recounts the story of these 33 men and the 69 hellish days they spent in the belly of the earth just trying to stay alive. Written by some of the same writers as “The Dallas Buyers Club” and directed by the same woman who did “Girl in Progress” comes this inspiring, yet uneven retelling.

Work for a miner is always hard, but back in 2010 it was about to get harder for a group of 33 men. Mining for the San Jose Mining company in central Chile, 33 men got up, put on their clothes and went down to haul out hundreds of tons of ore a day. However, this one day was going to end just a little bit differently than the rest. Part way through the day the tunnels suffer a catastrophic collapse and these men are stuck inside of the tunnels with no way out. The San Jose Mining Company initially panics and is ready to just write the whole thing off and bury the miners, but Laurence Golborne of the Chilean ministry of mining makes it his personal mission to come down there and extract the miners if he possible can.

Against all odds the crew starts drilling, hoping they can find the men before time runs out as they only have 3 days of supplies down there. Underneath the mountain of rubble the 33 men are running out of time. After 16 days the miners have STILL not been found, and their food supply has been rationed as far as it possibly can go. However, with so many misses, all it takes is one hit, and in that last day of life that fateful drill pokes through the wall. Now the men are found, and can received food vial the drilling holes, but now comes the real fun part. Getting them out. Over the course of the next 53 days this international team of drillers tries and fails several times to get a proper extraction method, until they finally try one last ditch effort. Use a giant several foot wide drill to power down to their location and use a sort of “coffin” on a cable to pull the men out before the mountain collapses.

“The 33” is certainly a powerful film in points. We have the intensity of the explosion as well as the torturous uncertainty watching these men try and live in a 100 degree dirt and stone tube. Then we have to go through longer portions of the movie where pretty much nothing happens and the tension fades, only to be replaced by elation once they’re found. Then once again watch the tension fade as they figure out HOW to get them out. Finally the last 10 minutes of the movie rise once more to that level of elation as we see the culmination of all these months of work come to fruition. All this to say, it’s a good movie, with some great parts, but unfortunately that level of intensity can’t be kept up forever and there are large portions of the movie that are just “good” instead of great.

The men really got into their roles, with Antonio Banderas and Lou Diamond Phillips taking center stage (I haven’t seen Lou Diamond Phillips play something this good in quite some time, unless you count the TV show “Longmire). These men really look and sound like they were put through the ringer. The intensity in their voices and the sweat and tears in their eyes really sold it. My only complaint is the rather up and down pacing that happened. It’s understandable that it can’t be one wild roller coaster ride, but I felt as if there were significant dips in the story where all we did was just kind of sit and watch what we already knew from the news casts. I feel as if there had been an effort to really dig into the characters themselves of the 33 men it could have smoothed out that unevenness.


Rated PG-13 for a disaster sequence and some language

Video :4.5stars:

“The 33” comes to Blu-ray with an impressive 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray transfer that does a great job of handling the earthy looking and claustrophobic film. Filmed on location in Chile (only a few miles from the actual cave in), the movie looks dusky and very earthy with raw detail and impressive black levels. Outside of the cave it’s a little more yellow and brown, with the hot sun pounding down on the miner’s families, while inside the cave the shots look tight and bathed in shadows. Sometimes the shadows get a bit too overpowering, and black crush seeps in along with a teensy bit of macroblocking. However, the majority of the film is extremely well detailed, with the dusk and grit of the miners readily available for viewing, and the sweat and tears of the rescuers showing up equally as well. Clarity is sharp and contrast levels look quite nice, giving the overall image a very pleasing tone.

Audio :4stars:

The 5.1 track is REAL impressive, that’s for sure. Being that most of the audio is inside the cavernous mine, you can hear every echo of the voice and reflection off the cave walls, coupled with the plinking and crunching of small stones and dirt. When the cave in starts, the LFE levels are just off the chart, pounding away incredible ferocity. Enough so that my dog was diving for cover due to the sustained roar. Even though that settles down pretty fast, there is enough activity in the track to keep all 6 channels working overtime, from the simple use of the surround with the caves haunting ambient noise, up to the little gurgling’s and rumbling associated with a rickety mine shifting and groaning around the miners.

Extras: :2.5stars:

• The Mine Collapse
• "The 33": The World Was Watching
• Theatrical Trailer

Overall: :4stars:

With so many good biopics and true stories out there you can’t hit 100% to the heart every time. “The 33” is very good effort and hits home in quite a few spots, but can’t keep up the uplifting pace the entire 2 hours + of runtime. I enjoyed the movie despite its flaws, and remembered my internet research back when the actual story broke a few years back. It was a powerful story back then, and certainly is powerful to this day. The might of human endurance is a fantastic thing to witness and the movie does a great job of capturing a lot of that powerful emotion. Audio and video are great, ESPECIALLY the audio, and the minimal extras do satisfy decently well. Worth a watch.

Additional Information

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Gabriel Byrne, Rodrigo Santoro
Directed by: Patricia Riggen
Written by: Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Main Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 127 minutes
Own "The 33" on Blu-ray or DVD on February 16 or Own It Early on Digital HD on January 2nd

Recommendation: Solid Watch

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. I remember watching this on the news when it happened. Never realized it was made into a movie. I will have to check it out.

Premium Member
15,054 Posts
I saw a pre screening of this movie and thought it was very true to the real event. If you read some of the background on the making of the movie you will learn that many of the real 33 actually had parts in this movie as extras. They were also a vital part in keeping the accuracy of the events.
As far as a "based on a true story" movie is concerned I think it was great.
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