I don’t know about you guys, but here in Australia, cinema tickets are outrageously expensive. As a result, I feel like I have to be really picky with the films I choose to watch. If I’ve paid money to see a film and it turns out to be boring or just plain bad, I get really annoyed! However, there are some films that are worth the ticket price and more. So, without further ado, here’s a new feature for this blog: “Is it worth paying for a ticket?”. At the end of this post, rather than a rating system, I’ll be telling you whether ‘yes’ you should pay to see a certain film during its run at the cinema, or, ‘no’ – don’t waste your money on it!
I saw Captain Phillips (2013) last night and wasn’t really expecting much. I had a vague understanding of the central story and a good understanding of human rights issues in Somalia. An understanding of human rights issues is not really necessary, since the film does not explore fully the lives of impoverished Somalis – and it doesn’t expect you to take this into consideration either. But I’ll get to that later.
Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) is heading off on a giant commercial ship filled to the brim with containers, around the dangerous waters of the Horn of Africa to Mombasa. His voyage begins in an ominous way: Many of the security standards for the ship have not been maintained. He preps all staff on board in emergency procedures. Later, he receives an email warning all ships of piracy in the sea around the coast of Somalia. Unsurprisingly, the ship is later pursued by two small boats containing Somali pirates who intend to board it and take its valuables; including people, for ransom money. Captain Phillips must use all the resources he has in order to defend the ship and its crew from the pirates.
The best thing about this film is that it builds a marvellous amount of tension, which is sustained throughout. The music certainly adds to this, as does the increasing instability of the four Somali pirates. Tom Hanks is particularly great in this film. He competently displays a good mix between the salty affect of a ship captain, and an unwavering care for the welfare of his crew as the drama begins to unfold. Despite the controversies regarding the film’s supposedly flawed depiction of Phillips, it is undeniable that Hanks is excellent in this film.
Barkhad Abdi is amazing as Muse, the captain of the pirate ship. However, I take issue with the film’s portrayal of the four Somali pirates. The film attempts to humanise them by showing internal conflict and portraying some as more ‘morally good’ than others. However, unfortunately, throughout the film they are very one-dimensional. In real life, this is absolutely not the case, as there are a million horrible reasons why impoverished people commit such acts; the offending pirates are just the ‘mask’ of an incredibly sensitive and complex issue. It made me frankly quite angry to see people who are victims of poverty and corruption represented in such a simplistic way. However, at the same time, I’m not sure the film had the space to explore this side of the story. I’d love to see more films from the perspective of Somalis who are forced into a life of piracy by violent criminal groups, in order to give the issue more balance.
Overall, I really enjoyed Captain Phillips, despite my gripes with its portrayal of the Somalis. The story is fascinating and develops with a steady pace. At no point does this film lag or become boring. You know you’re buying a ticket to something that is going to be stressful and uncomfortable, but this one is definitely worth it.
Is it worth paying for a ticket? Yes!
Watch the trailer here.