Finest Hours


Swanner: In 1952, a Coast Guard team made a daring rescue of an oil-tanker during a terrible storm. Right away, I was thinking this was going to be another “Perfect Storm” movie, but its really as different as it is similar. Set off the Cape Cod coast, the four coast men risk their lives trying to save the survivors on the sinking ship. I tell you, when you see what happened to the tanker ship, you’ll be in for the rest of the film. 

I liked that they realized that just following the Coast Guard team wasn’t enough, so we also get to follow the men aboard the sinking ship, and the people back home worried that no one will survive this ordeal. Granted, this is just another rescue movie, but the performances, the insane situation, and the special effects are worth the ride. Directed by Craig Gillespie (Million Dollar Arm), written by Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson from a book by Casey Sherman and Michael J Tougias.

Starring Chris Pine, Casey Afflect, Ben Foster and Eric Bana, I was really impressed with Afflect. He keeps the sinking ship storyline a float, while reminding us, once again, that he’s a capable leading man. My only complaint was the love story with Pine and Holliday Grainger. A newly engaged couple, with this being her first scary rescue, makes her question if marrying a Coast Guard man is right for her. She does have a voice of the people waiting for Pine and his fellow guardsmen to return, but I could have done with out her. It’s a great hero story that never leaves you bored. This is a movie best seen on a big screen… At least the first time.

Swanner: 3 stars

The Fifth Wave


Swanner: The Fifth Wave refers to the waves of attacks from aliens that the humans have endured. The first wave took away the human’s electrical power, the second was natural disasters, followed with a bird flu and, finally, the realization that the aliens can imitate humans. Cassie (Chloe Grace Moretz), a 16 year old teenager, tries to find her younger brother who’s been taken from her. Can she survive and find her brother before the aliens stop her? What is this fifth wave, and will it mean the end of the human race?

Going in to the film, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to be up to par with Star Wars, but I was hoping for something good. What I got was another teen angst, post apocalyptic movie that could easily produce sequels. Based on a novel by Rick Yancey, The Fifth Wave is familiar fare. Director J Blakeson makes his directorial debut here, but suffers from a crappy script so transparent you’re anticipating every step and there are no surprises. None.

For the most part, the film looks good and the acting is good. Moretz in the lead helped, but the predictability of the script, and an inexperienced director makes this a below average try at the elusive teenage market. I think the kids will see through this the way I did, so I don’t see this creating sequels unless someone with more experience steps in and makes some changes. This is a film to wait for on DVD, or more likely cable.

Swanner: 1 ½ stars

Ride Along 2


Swanner: I really liked Ride Along when it came out two years ago. The pairing of Ice Cube with Kevin Hart was a winning combination.  After that film did well, Ride Along 2 was a natural step forward because the audience wanted it, and the producers knew that had something franchise worthy. This time around,police officer James (Ice Cube) is heading to Miami to question a hacker, while newly graduated Ben (Kevin Hart) wants to travel with him, so they rekindle their partnership. Once they hit Miami, they find themselves challenging an international drug smuggler. 

Tim Story returns as director with what looks to be a bigger budget along with two of the original writers, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Together, they have given us a tight buddy cop comedy that, in many ways, is better than the original. Like Ice Cube’s other franchise, 21 Jump Street, everything here is bigger and better, but pretty much the same film. Oddly enough, that doesn’t bother me because it’s a funny, well made picture. Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, Benjamin Bratt and Tika Sumpter make up the rest of the main cast. 

Why the producers or studio decided on a January debut is above me. This may not be a summer comedy, but it’s certainly not your regular January leftovers. Hopefully, they see that if you bring out good product it will sell… This weekend’s box-office will be the judge. If you liked the first Ride Along you’ll like this sequel and I’d see it with an audience. There is nothing like seeing a funny movie with an audience; if you thought it was just okay, then wait for video. This film will work either way.

Swanner: 3 stars