Released by: Lionsgate
Release Date: September 30th, 2016 (Theatrical)
January 10th, 2017 (Blu-ray)
Region Code: REGION A (Blu-ray) REGION 1 (DVD)
Run Time: 2h 7m
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Video: 1080p (2.35:1 Aspect Ratio)
THE FEATURES [3 out of 4]
Beyond the Horizon (51m 21s, HD)
This feature is broken up into smaller chunks for easier digestion.
This is being advertised on the back of the box as “hour long making of” and that is where the lies start. As you can tell, this is less than an hour long and it is more of a brownnosing effort than a making of. Every little featurette spends the majority of the time having everyone else talk about how great it was to work with so and so and how they came prepared. I hate featurettes like this because it is strictly EPK stuff. I know that there is not going to be anyone talking shit about the others, but I wish that the people producing these special features would have a little more faith us. Sometimes I think that they create special features like this one just to make it look like there is more, when there really isn’t.
There is a bit of behind the scenes footage and I was happy to have that. There isn’t much of it, but beggars can’t be choosers I guess. In the long run, I don’t care how long the features are. I care about what they are about, how much information is contained in those features. A bunch of featurettes with the actors kissing each other’s asses is not meat. It is nothing but empty calories.
Captain of the Rig: Peter Berg (18m 15s, HD)
Now this is what I am talking about. Had the main feature been anything like this feature, then maybe I wouldn’t have complained so much. We get to see Berg in action in preproduction, figuring out with his DP and other crew members, how they are going to create the rig in the film. (It is mostly CGI, but they did build the bottom of the rig, that was 100 feet off the ground, so that they had something to shoot with.) We then see Berg during production, shooting everything that he needs (and a lot that he doesn’t need) in order to put his vision on the screen. We don’t see any postproduction, but these features are made during the filming so they are edited at the same time the film is, so that is ok.
There is a lot to learn here.
The Fury of the Rig (27m 20s, HD)
As I mentioned before, the crew built the bottom of the rig so that Berg and crew had something to shoot with. Berg wanted to shoot as much as he could and only relied on CGI when necessary (a lot of what we see on the rig had to be CGI because of the weight of all the equipment.) We also learn that they shot in Louisiana, during hurricane season. Luckily, nothing bad happened. They also used huge LED projecting flames to light scenes with. I really liked this doc. It is not as interesting as the previous one, but it still gets us involved.
Deepwater Surveillance (17m 40s, HD)
Each option starts off with some onscreen text explaining what we are about to see.
-First Blowout with Stunts
-Drill Deck Explosion
-Assistant Driller’s Shack Crash
-Main Methane Explosion
-Mr. Jimmy’s Shower
-Mike and Caleb Restore the Power
-To the Lifeboats
Each one of these is an “action cam” shot. Berg placed a GoPro somewhere during the filming of the major stunts. He did this so that we can see how these scenes are done. I was a little worried at first because during the first one the camera got covered in mud and we couldn’t see anything. Thankfully, it got better. I think that these were interesting, but I don’t see myself going back and rewatching these.
Participant Media: Work Like an American
-American Worker Tributes (16m 3s, HD)
-Caleb Holloway- Firefighter and Deepwater Horizon Survivor
-Les Pryce- Ironworker
-Bill Reimels- Chief Live Line Coordinator
-Darrell Holthusen- Logger
-Meredith Gregory- Gulf Fisherman
-Adam Donahue- Journeyman/Electrical Foreman
-Marc Nunez- Machine Shop Owner and Welder
I have seen most of the reviews for this feature as “featuring the real life men (even though there is a woman profiled here too) who are the subjects of the film”
While the first one, Caleb Holloway, was on the Deepwater Horizon, and is portrayed in the film by Dylan O'Brien, none of the other ones are in the film. This is supposed to a tribute to blue collar workers. Every review that I looked at said almost the exact same thing when it came to talking about this feature, which means that the reviewers didn’t actually watch this. I mean, come on, one of the guys profiled works in New York. I just hate that there are people who are supposed to do a job (review a blu-ray) and they can’t be bothered with watching the actual features. Meanwhile, there are people who take the job seriously and they are struggling to be read.
I didn’t actually mean to go on that rant, but I don’t want to be lead into buying something because a reviewer didn’t watch everything. It has happened before and that was one of the reasons I started to do the “Just the Features” reviews. I wanted to be able to be the voice for someone who is trying to decide whether or not to buy a release based on special features. I know that my opinion has been swayed due to a lack of special features or another country having a better edition.
Anyways, these small tributes are borderline propaganda. They are trying to tell me that I am not “working like an American” because of what I do for a living (I work in retail). I think that is a little bit much. I know that these men and women do some of the roughest jobs in terms of life threating danger, but try telling that to someone who works the overnight shift at a gas station or a single mother who has to get up at the crack of dawn so that she can work some soul crushing, minimum wage job so that she can put food on the table. Thinking about that makes these tributes a bit shallow.
I Am A Steel Beam with narration by director Peter Berg (1m 3s, HD)
This is a commercial of sorts profiles a steel beam.
I Am a Steel Beam with narration by Gina Rodriguez (1m 3s, HD)
Same as the one above just with a different narrator.
THE PACKAGING [4 out of 4]
The front of the steelbook features star Mark Wahlberg in a profile picture, his face slightly muddied up. His name placed above him. The disaster is pictured within his body (look at the pics). The background is white and the title and tagline (Based on a True Story of Real-Life Heroes) are in black (except when the title runs over, into Wahlberg, then it turns white.) The steelbook is glossy and likes to hold on to your fingerprints. I am not kidding. This thing will be covered in fingerprints no matter what you do.
The back features the rig, on fire, at the top. A line runs down the blackness that makes up the ocean until we see that oil is spilling out of the end.
The inside of the steelbook features the four stars of the film, Walhberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, and John Malcovich, looking like they have seen better days.
The discs themselves, one blu-ray and one dvd, are placed on either side of the case. Both discs feature Walhberg, again in a profile shot. The blu-ray features him standing in front of the rig as it is blowing up. The dvd features him standing in front of the American flag and the surrounding fire.
The blu-ray is REGION A while the dvd is REGION 1.
THE PICTURE [4 OUT OF 4]
There is no denying that Lionsgate has delivered a stunner when it comes to the picture and the sound. Director Peter Berg has shot in a few different aspect ratios, but the one he returns to time and time again is the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and that is what we have here. The scenes that take place before the disaster are beautifully photographed with an eye towards real colors, resulting in a muted color palate. Once the disaster happens, the colors come alive, with the reds and oranges taking lead. Detail is high and the blacks are deep and no digital artifacts or manipulations to be found. This is one impressive picture.
THE SOUND [4 out of 4]
Liosngate provides Dolby Atmos soundtrack and I think that it made the neighbors go deaf. All kidding aside, this is one aggressive track. Throughout the whole film, we feel a part of the world. Immersion is really high. Once the disaster hits we are already in the thick and it gets better and better. Very few times have I ever felt like I was with the characters on an audible level. During all of this happening, the dialogue is never lost and everything is clear and procise. Demo level sound.
THE FILM [3 out of 4]
Why do filmmakers feel that they can make a film about something tragic that is still in the memories of the people that were a part of said tragedy, but also those who watched it happen? This is something that has been happening a lot lately and something that I have been thinking a lot about.
We had two films about 9/11 within four years of the disaster. That is really close. Some would say too close. There is no closure for the families and then Hollywood comes and says that they are going to make films about what happened, but only about what happened to certain people. I understand that there would be no way to make a film or even a tv series about everybody that was affected, but Hollywood could broaden their scope a little bit.
Do you remember the shit storm that James Cameron had to go through when Titanic was released? No, not the fact that he made a slightly above average disaster film. There is a person in the film there is a man by the name of William Murdoch. In the film he is seen killing himself after shooting two other people. One of Murdoch’s descendants demanded that James Cameron issue an apology because the descendant felt that the film version of Murdoch was a dishonor to the family. Cameron did apologize bit said that there was no way to tell if that is what happened, but there is also no way to prove it either.
This is from a film that was made 80 years after the disaster. What do you think the families of the BP oil spill (which is the basis for this film) or the families of the victims of 9/11 thought about those films being made. Read this article: http://www.cracked.com/article_24544_5-big-problems-with-hollywoods-addiction-to-tragedy-porn.html to find out more.
Now, onto to Deepwater Horizon.
The film is well made. Peter Berg has shown that he knows his way around a film set. Being an actor himself, he is able to get performances out of actors that most directors can’t. He is also very in tuned with what makes a good film. He spends time with the characters before anything happens to them. He takes the “slow burn” approach to his films.
I do think that in Deepwater Horizon he stretches this approach to the point just before it snaps. This film is two hours long and I will say that he spends at least an hour, if not more, setting up the characters and the rig itself. This is all well and good. I like a film that takes its time before sending us into the flames, but I think that Berg spends a bit too much time setting the film up. There are a lot of scenes that could have been cut that would have helped the film move at a much brisker pace.
That is one of the few problems I have with the film. The other problem is the casting of Mark Wahlberg. I have never bought Wahlberg as an actor. Even in films like Boogie Nights and The Departed, which he was nominated for an Oscar. He also seems like he is acting and that is the worst thing an actor can do. We are supposed to be drawn in by performances, but with Wahlberg I am always aware that Wahlberg is on screen and not the character that he is supposed to be playing. I don’t buy that he is an oil rig worker. He just doesn’t hit the right bells for me.
Kurt Russell, on the other hand, is a legend. This man could read me the dictionary and I would be on my toes the entire time. Russell exudes cool and here he is no different. I believe that Russell knows everything about this oil rig and takes it personally when the disaster happens. Also, there are only a handful of actors that can pull off a mustache like the one Russell sports here.
I liked Deepwater Horizon. I think that it is a well made film that is effective and sad. I do have to wrestle with the fact that this was made five years after the disaster and I think that the filmmakers should have weighed that option when making the film. I know that Berg and Company have the best intentions in mind, but I feel for the people who have to watch this film who know a person who was killed during this disaster. I also feel for the survivors. I hope that they find this film cathartic and that it helps them rather than making them relive a dark chapter in their lives, all for the sake of entertainment.
OVERALL [3.5 out of 4]
Deepwater Horizon is a good film and a really good blu-ray. The picture and sound are some of the best out there, but it is the special features that are lacking. The “hour long” making of that isn’t an hour long and is nothing more than a glorified EPK. Also the sentiment that American jobs are only the ones that are tough to do rubs me the wrong way. There are some nice things to be found inside the special features, but I think that they should have cut the “Work Like an American” BS and focused more on the making of the film. That would have made this set a whole lot better. It isn’t bad, but I expected more. Ultimately, it is worth a purchase because I have a feeling that this film will get better with age.