7.5/10 Earlier this year the Oscars took place and perhaps the biggest snub was that “The Rescue” not only didn’t win Best Documentary Feature (“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” picked up that trophy) but it wasn’t even nominated, which was and is insane. I picked “The Rescue” not only as the best documentary of 2021 but as the 2nd best film out of every single 2021 film. The documentary was about the Thai cave rescue and was able to accomplish so much in under two hours. “Thirteen Lives” is the Hollywood dramatic re-enactment of those same events but featuring Hollywood actors instead of the real life people who were involved. Overall, while this does fall short of “The Rescue”, it is still a great film that I recommend checking out, especially if you make it a double feature with “The Rescue”. Let’s start off with what worked before moving to the few minor complaints. First off, the sheer film making on display is incredibly impressive. The camera men and actors all had to be underwater and go through scuba diving training. Everything you see on film when it comes to swimming underwater and cave diving are the actual actors and crew. The cinematography lets you feel the claustrophobic, tight spaces of the caves and even Colin Farrell spoke publicly about how being submerged “wreaked havoc on my mind”. Speaking of Farrell, he along with talented folks like Viggo Mortensen, Joel Edgerton and Tom Bateman make up the biggest names of this impressive and dedicated cast. Director Ron Howard has recently remarked on how he has chosen at this stage of his career to direct films about true stories/events to shine a light on all of the good that goes on in the world. His recent works in film like “In the Heart of the Sea” and “Hillbilly Elegy” along with documentaries such as “Rebuilding Paradise” and “We Feed People” and finally, even an episode of “Genius” with his episode on Albert Einstein has seen Howard get into a niche genre of true story film making. “Thirteen Lives” is just the latest example and he certainly has a knack for these kinds of inspiring and uplifting true stories. Despite the running time reaching nearly two and a half hours, the editing and pacing work well so you are entertained from start to finish. Much like “The Rescue”, even if you know how the story ends (if you followed the news back in the summer of 2018 as this unfolded or you watched “The Rescue”), you will still often be on the edge of your seat and have your heart strings tugged on as the parents of the trapped children are terrified, the boys themselves and running out of time and air and even the divers struggle with their own inner demons. I even learned about one additional death that wasn’t covered in “The Rescue” which I had no idea about. As for what didn’t work, the score from the usually reliable Benjamin Wallfisch was rather forgettable and less impactful than some of his other, stronger work. Much like “The Rescue”, I wished we could have gotten a little bit more development of the young soccer team themselves since it is their fate that the entire film hinges upon. Finally, while this isn’t so much as a weakness of this film as it is a strength of “The Rescue”, “The Rescue” was able to cover a little more ground and be an overall stronger film with 45 fewer minutes of running time. That doesn’t make “Thirteen Lives” any less solid but in comparison it does show that “The Rescue” comes out on top when compared to each other. Comparisons aside, this is still a well made, well acted, emotional experience that I certainly recommend watching, especially as a double feature.

#MusicByAirSupply / #EasternProvinces / #FantasticBoysAndWhereToFindThem / #BoyDisplaced / #BankSwallow13 / #Cradle2TheCave

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