Thursday, February 23, 2017

Deepwater Horizon - 2 nominations and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - 1 nomination

Deepwater Horizon
Visual Effects - Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington, and Burt Dalton
Sound Editing - Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli

Deepwater Horizon recounts the true story of the devastating British Petroleum (BP) oil spill off the coast of Louisiana, and the very brave professionals who both tried to prevent the spill and rescued each other from the fallout.  Perhaps the greatest demonstration for the need for regulations in America, this film captures what happens when a corporate entity prizes money above safety.  With little oversight of the regulations that do exist, companies take more and more risks seemingly without regard to the potential consequences.  At its heart, this film is a great action movie ably led by the always terrific Mark Wahlberg.  But the movie takes the time to let us know the characters, their families, their backstories, and the very real dangers they faced.  As always, we must remind ourselves that filmmakers have no obligation to the actual facts as they occurred, so those who love the film and are outraged by it, must also take the time to find out how much of the story was inspired by actual events, and how much was adding entertainment and imagination to how the events could have happened.  Nonetheless, I was not expecting to like the movie and I liked it very much.  Of note were the visual effects which required a tremendous level of complexity so that the viewer could almost feel what the people portrayed experienced.  It was well worth the time and the popcorn.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Sound Mixing - Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth

Another in our "inspired by true events" stories, 13 Hours recaps the events of September 11, 2010 in Benghazi, Libya, where the American ambassador and three others were murdered as Libya was becoming a failed state.  Nearby, in a secret CIA outpost, former military contractors stood ready and waiting to help the overrun embassy as they were being attacked.  The siege lasted all night, and these brave men did what they could to usher as many people to safety as possible, and as we know, they didn't all survive.  

I was expecting this film to be much more political than it was.  In fact, the only reference to politics made in the film is a single comment recalling that Congress had cut the funding to embassies around the world, and therefore, this embassy did not comply with the regulations set for minimum standards to ensure personnel safety.  It was not the fortress it was supposed to be, and woefully understaffed for such a dangerous region.  I dearly hope that we have learned this lesson all too painfully, and that the other embassies in these kinds of regions will receive the funding they need to prevent further tragedy.

My main criticism of the film (not of the soldiers, not of the heroes) is that so much of it portrayed the battles, and not enough time was devoted to the story.  There was a very little bit where each of the incredible men with magnificent skills were on video chats with their families, and another small bit about how some of them knew each other.  I promise my criticism reflects a desire to know more about the people and who they are (or were).  Once you've seen many minutes of shooting at each other, it's very clear that the battle was grueling.  The people who fought bravely really deserved more depth.  I think they earned it.  

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