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Captain Phillips rises the tide

In a Nutshell: This intense docudrama of the Maersk Alabama hijacking keeps you on the edge of your seat, an especially impressive feat, considering the movie is over two hours long. I kept imagining myself in each situation, wondering what I would have done. Each decision has consequences and turns the direction of the outcome. Even if you remember the news story from 2009, you’ll feel like you’re experiencing the dramatic ordeal for the first time.

Things I liked: I absolutely adore Tom Hanks. Who doesn’t? His emotion at the end brought tears to my eyes. So powerful. (SPOILER ALERT: I wanted to be that nurse and give him a big hug.) Some of the close-ups were SO close that you could see the pores of the skin on people’s faces. Not that I’ve ever actually met a real Somali, but the actors seemed very authentic. You hate the pirates, yet feel sorry for them at the same time. A recent TV show interviewed the actors who had auditioned for the roles and filmed them dancing in the ocean as soon as they learned they had been selected.

(SPOILER ALERT: The audience I sat with cheered at the end when the words on the screen revealed that Captain Phillips returned to work on ships after the ordeal.) The human spirit is inspiring.

Things I didn’t like: I wish there had been more character development of the crew on both sides – good guys and bad guys. Some of the scenes were a bit choppy…perhaps intentional to reflect the movement of the water? (SPOILER ALERT: So why did Captain Phillips jump out of the boat only to swim back to it? Because they were shooting at him?)

Uplifting theme: Heroism is doing scary things with courage. Navy Seals are total studs. In the words of Captain Phillips, “You gotta be strong to survive out there.”

Funny line: Not really funny, but true: “Everyone has a boss.”

Tips for parents: Violence and blood, but not as much swearing as you would expect from a ship’s burly crew. The Somalis constantly feed on a stimulant called Khat.

Grade: A-

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