Live Action (Short Subject) Nominees

Deepwater Horizon

deepwater-horizon-posterDeepwater Horizon is a well-cast but fairly standard disaster movie that attempts to put a human face on the worst oil disaster in U.S. history. On April 20, 2010, an explosion rocked the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon (owned by Transocean and operated by BP) during a drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico, triggering an environmental disaster that sent an estimated 210 million gallons of oil sweeping and seeping its way to the shores of Louisiana and beyond. The movie, “inspired by the true story”, isn’t so much about the environmental impact or the blame game that ensued, but rather about the human toll. We are reminded that eleven people died that day (their remains never found), and that among the victims and survivors were untold stories of bravery and heroism.

The film opens with introductions to the main characters in this narrative, including chief electrician Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg), crew chief Jimmy Harrell (Kurt Russell), and crew member Andrea Fleytas (Gina Rodriguez) as they say goodbye to loved ones and embark on a three-week stint on the Deepwater Horizon. The villains are identified early as well, in the form of a pair of visiting BP execs who appear more concerned about profits than safety, especially the slimy-looking Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich). Kate Hudson plays Williams’ wife Felicia, who routinely skypes with her husband while he’s away. Hudson’s role is small but she makes the most of it, single-handedly representing what family and friends likely endured as word of the disaster became breaking news.

Anyway, it’s no big spoiler to reveal what happens as the movie unfolds, though it does get a bit bogged down while trying to set up the drama with on-screen notes about pressure gauges, kill lines, drill lines, mud displacement and the like. As the pressure builds beneath the rig, so does the drama — culminating in massive explosions, fire, shattered glass, and crew members struggling to contain the disaster and escape with their lives. At that point, Deepwater Horizon plays like a war movie, or The Perfect Storm – on an oil rig.

It’s an okay movie with decent performances and some stunning visual effects, but nothing special to make it stand out from the pack. BP and Transamerica can rest easy that the movie will likely dissipate from the pubic consciousness a lot faster than the oil did in the aftermath of the spill.

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