Decades from now when Disney historians look back on 2016, The Finest Hours is likely to go unmentioned. That’s a shame as it’s a truly solid film and refreshingly different from the types of films Disney is making these days. For every animated remake or franchise sequel, there should be an inspirational film like The Finest Hours.
Set in 1952, the film tells the true story of an impossible rescue mission. During a powerful winter storm, the U.S. Coast Guard sends almost all of its resources to save a distressed tanker. But when a second tanker is discovered to have split in half, Bernie Webber and his small crew must brave the fierce storm in a tiny boat that was not meant for this type of mission. They’re the only ones available to save them, so they have to make it or die trying.
For an action film, The Finest Hours is filled with the heart and emotional core that audiences expect from Disney. Through Bernie’s fiancé Miriam, played by Holiday Granger (Cinderella), we get to see the way the whole community came together to support the mission. Casey Affleck as the Pendleton’s engineer also carries the weight of the men desperate to save each other’s lives while lost at sea. But Chris Pine as Bernie Webber is the glue that holds the whole film together, a likeably humble man whose convictions can’t be altered.
The only criticism I can throw at the film is that it’s predictable, but that doesn’t break it. Since it’s based on a true story, you can already assume that the main characters survive and when marketing focused so strongly on the way the crew beat the odds, you expect the impossible to be achieved. But the ending still overwhelms me with emotions, even on a second viewing, and I highly recommend it.
The Finest Hours arrives on home video in three buying options. This review focuses on the Blu-Ray/Digital HD combo pack, while a DVD-only release will also be offered in addition to digital retailers. This film was made in 3D and was released to theaters that way, but as per usual Disney will not support this film with a 3D home video release.
The Finest Hours features a softer visual palette on land and a crisper one over the cold seas. The Blu-Ray transfer accurately replicates both, with dark, inky blacks during the night sequences and fine detail during the daylight moments. The 2.39:1 aspect ratio accurately recreates the cinema experience.
The default audio option is an English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. During the more tender scenes, the beautiful score fills all speakers. But as the action ramps up, sound effects fill the rear channels, immersing you in the film. Other audio options include a 2.0 descriptive audio track as well as French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.
- Against All Odds: The Bernie Webber Story (14:10) – Meet the residents of Chatham, the setting of the film, as they tell the story of the Pendleton Rescue. Among the talking heads are descendants of some of the men from the rescue, including Bernie Webber’s daughter.
- Deleted Scenes (4:28) – Two deleted scenes are presented with preliminary visual effects. The Pendleton crew tries to patch up the crack in their ship in “A Desperate Idea.” Richard tells Bernie’s crew about how he and Miriam met as they take a rowboat to their rescue boat.
- Brotherhood (1:49) – A brief EPK with Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster and director Craig Gillespie.
- Two Crews (2:02) – Another quick EPK that talks about the two crews featured in the film.
- What is Your Finest Hour? (1:02) – Real members of the U.S. Coast Guard share their most proud moments of service.
- The Finest Inspiration: The U.S. Coast Guard (1:42) – Coast Guard members show how they risk their lives everyday to save others.
Packaging & Design
The Finest Hours is housed in a standard blue blu-ray case. A holofoil embossed slipcover is included in the initial pressing that gives the cover a metallic look. The case holds the single disc and inserts include a digital copy/Disney Movies Anywhere code and a flier for Disney Movie Club. The digital copy can be redeemed through all DMA partners (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, and Microsoft).
The disc opens with ads for Disney Movies Anywhere, Finding Dory and Zootopia. Pressing “Sneak Peeks” from the menu plays an additional ad for Disney Movie Rewards. The menu features the lighthouse in a winter storm as a guard looks out over the ocean.
It’s a shame that The Finest Hours underperformed at the box office, but it now has a second life on home video. Disney’s Blu-Ray presentation dazzles and the lengthiest bonus feature adds more credibility to the inspirational story. If you’re looking for a great movie night at home, I recommend The Finest Hours.