The 33

Another true story, thrillingly told. The 33 chronicles the 2010 Chilean mining disaster and the survival instincts of the 33 men who were underground for 69 days.

With limited food and water, in a stifling hot area where the men take refuge when the mine collapses, conflict ensues. Under the leadership of Mario Sepulvida (Antonio Banderas), supplies are rationed and sagging spirits are lifted. Among the 33 is an actor you may not have seen in a while, Lou Diamond Phillips.

The film’s actors speak English with Hispanic accents. This, presumably, is to make the film accessible to American audiences who prefer not to read subtitles. This works okay for the most part. (There are a handful of characters who speak in Español with English translations superimposed.)

We’re accustomed to hearing Banderas in that manner. But when Bob Gunton employs an accent, it sounds totally inauthentic. (Gunton, who is instantly recognizable as the warden in The Shawshank Redemption, plays the Chilean president.)

Immediately after the incident, family members set up camp right outside the mining area’s gates. Juliette Binoche is most outspoken to government and mine officials, urging them to accomplish the rescue.

Initial contact is made nearly three weeks into the ordeal. Food, water and other supplies are sent down via a narrow tube. But a wider passageway will need to be drilled to bring the 33 back home. Gabriel Byrne appears as a geologist who’s working with big machines to rescue the miners. He becomes frustrated with equipment shortcomings.

Two scenes in The 33 are particularly emotional. First, there’s a fantasy sequence with all the hungry men enjoying an imaginary feast. Second, footage of the actual 33 Chileans miners serves as an effective upbeat coda to their moving story.

For those of use whose work is mainly done at a keyboard and/or on a phone, The 33 serves as a reminder that many men and women work hard every day in dangerous conditions. While watching The 33, I thought of my dad who worked in a pipe factory and often came home with welding burns on his arms and legs.

The 33 honors the workers, their families and those who got the men out alive with a clearly-told story that reminds us just how tragic the event was.


The newest Godzilla has everything you want in a summer tent pole movie: a sufficient amount of monster footage, generous servings of destruction, an okay storyline and generally decent acting by the human cast. (And the 3-D is good, too.)

Godzilla’s clever title sequence includes “redacted” credits over nuke-related archival footage, hinting at official cover-ups of atomic testing and the effects of radiation. An old-school opening theme signals a serious attitude.

Joe and Sandra Brody (Bryan Cranston and Juliette Binoche) both work at a Japanese nuclear plant. Joe wants to shut the plant down due to seismic rumbles; Sandra goes to check on the reactor and dies when tremors lead to disaster and force the closing of escape doors.

Throughout the film are reminders of 9-11 footage that are branded into our gray matter, starting with shots of Sandra running to escape an approaching dusty cloud of danger.

15 years after the nuke plant event, Joe’s grown up son Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) leaves his wife (Elizabeth Olsen) and son Sam (Carson Bolde) in San Francisco to bail out his widower dad in Japan. Joe has trespassed in the forbidden area around the nuke plant. When he convinces Ford to return with him to the area, they discover why the plant is off limits.

Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Wantanabe) and his sidekick Vivienne (Sally Hawkins) are seen in the film’s opening scene, checking out a weird crater in a uranium mine in the Philippines. They are involved in the cover-up of events at the shuttered plant. Here’s where we meet the first monster.

As the two flying monsters make their way from Japan to Hawaii to the US west coast, they are pursued by Godzilla, with whom they faceoff in San Francisco. (The battles evoked cheers from the preview audience.)

In addition to visuals that trigger 9-11 memories, the 2011 Japanese earthquake (which caused damage to the real life Fukushima nuclear plant) is referenced when monsters cause a tsunami in Honolulu.

A sensitive touch that director Gareth Edwards brings to Godzilla is a focus on small children and the way peril affects them throughout the film. I was surprised that the 2014 Godzilla’s movements were less fluid than I’d expected. On the other hand, the sounds made by all the monsters are masterpieces of audio production.

The new Godzilla film is good enough to satisfy but not so good as to come close to classic status. It is likely to be warmly embraced by many who recall the old version, as well as by Godzilla newbies.