Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sully

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! There's no denying that this pilot is a hero...and it's no coincidence that his real name sorta sounds like the secret identity of a comic book superhero.



Sully – 4 out of 5

The internet likes to remind us all that not all heroes wear capes…and this is usually attached to a meme of a person like a pizza delivery guy or someone giving food to a friend (or maybe all of my friends are just hungry all the time, I dunno).  However, there is truth to that statement because in real life heroes don’t wear capes and sometimes they wear buttons that have little wings on them, wear a cool captain’s hat and one day get to have the national treasure that is Tom Hanks play them in a movie.  That is the case here with the real life inspired tale of Sully.

That look on Sully's face is the same one I have when I find out my
girlfriend finished all the girl scout cookies.

On January 15th, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 was struck by birds and the ship’s pilot; Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), and its First Officer; Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart), were left in a dangerous situation.  With no thrust from their engines and seemingly no way to make it safely to any nearby airports, Sully made a judgment call and made a water landing in the Hudson River.  All passengers survived and the media declares him a hero; however, the National Transportation Safety Board calls Sully’s decision making into question after analysis suggests he might have been able to return safely to a runway and not have to make the water landing.  Now, struggling with the event that took place, Sully must now defend his innocence and convince his detractors that he did what was right.

"Any landing you can walk--er, swim--away from."

It’s pretty amazing how little time we now allow before we make bio-pics these days.  It’s crazy to think that, according to Brian Grazer, the studio felt that not enough time had passed in order to adapt the story of Apollo 13 into a movie when he and Ron Howard started selling the idea.  That was several decades of time passing and now we are making movies about dudes who are still essentially fresh in our short term memory.  Still though, Sullys story and his actions were pretty amazing so they were definitely worth the film adaptation.

True Fact That I Didn't Make Up:  The plane did all of its own stunts.

I’m not a big fan of Clint Eastwood as a director.  I think the man lacks subtlety and, while I will admit that visually his films look great and they are edited very well, his work always feels like the cinematic equivalent of reading at a really low level.  The thematic elements and morals presented in his work are often blatantly obvious and it regularly ends up taking away dramatic tension and depth from the story.  Sully, in contrast, is a feature that actually ends up working because of Eastwood’s lack of depth and subtlety.  He’s able to bring in the emotion and drama of the event and have it play out in the director’s usual way and it makes for a feature that is wearing its heart on its sleeve.  This dynamic used for a story that is already pretty heartwarming made for a film that was easy to engage with and be charmed by.

Judging by how Eastwood has handled his other films, I'm a bit surprised that the
NTSB officials weren't all wearing bowler hats and twirling their mustaches
while investigating Sully.

Another element that made Sully an effective bio-pic was the non-linear plot.  Usually, with films that are based real people, the story takes the moment they are known for and follows an obvious path that gets the character to that point.  This film played around heavily with flashbacks while we see Sully deal with the aftermath of what occurred.  We only see hints of the actual water landing for a majority of the film and it isn’t until the end half do we see how it happened and get to see it in detail.  This plot presentation made the entire ordeal far more intriguing than just a straight forward story that goes from Point A to Point B.  This also allowed for deeper character development in the form of Sully as we see how the event and the investigation were taking its toll on him.

The final piece that makes Sully really come together is the cast.  There is a ton of great supporting cast members in this film but the real highlight is Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart.  It’s no surprise that Hanks is great in the role because there’s very few roles he’s not amazing in but everyone in this film had this very realistic approach that made the film feel very authentic.  No one is upping up their reactions or overacting in this film.  Everything just feels very human and that is what the film needed and that was achieved excellently.

Can we just take a moment to admire how amazing Eckhart's mustache
is in this film?

As touching and entertaining as Sully is, there were some elements that I think held the film back.  For starters, I never had any sense that this film will be a remembered bio-pic.  What the real Sully did was amazing but this film, as an overall experience, felt a tad hollow and like it’s just another bio-pic in a never ending hall that is the genre.  Part of this sense that I got was born from the fact that some of the dramatic tension throughout the story falls flat.  For example, the film partially develops and introduces some passengers on the flight in order to craft emotion during the landing and rescue.  They are handled well enough but to an extent that they are really just sorta serviceable.  I understood what they went through but they were so quickly thrown into the mix that I never really felt anything for them or had an emotional response to what they went through in the same way I did for Sully and what he did to save them.

One thing they could have looked into was why so many don't have heads.

This lack of emotional conflict is also shown within the investigation scenes.  While it’s been claimed that the NTSB’s investigation of the landing was blown out of proportion for the film (which is fine, real life drama is never the same as movie drama), their investigation never really felt that heavy of a conflict.  It was mildly irritating to see people in suits questioning and challenging what Sully did but there was never a sense that there was any weight to what they were doing nor did it seem there were that dire of consequences attached.  Sadly, these moments almost felt like throwaway scenes because the load they were carrying felt so light.  The only time there was some resonance to them was in the final moments of the investigation and where everything is on the line.  This is where it really counts and I’m glad the film nailed this but the payoff probably could have been more momentous if the build-up was better constructed.

"Houston, we have a pro--I mean, LaGuardia, we have a problem."

Sully definitely had some noticeable problems for me but I still really enjoyed the film.  The movie also has an issue with its ending as it is terribly abrupt and kinda feels like an old 70s/80s sitcom.  Basically, everything is wrapped up super-fast and I’m a little shocked it didn’t just end with a freeze frame as the credits rolled over it.  Still, there’s no denying that the film has some heart to it.  With a great cast and some easily sympathetic drama, the film proved to be a decent bio-pic about a man who did something truly amazing.

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