The saga of the Chilean copper miners trapped when the Mina San José collapsed in 2010 was mesmerizing for the millions who watched it unfold. Not only did all 33 of the men who were working nearly half a mile underground survive there for more than two months, but, in a miracle of sorts, an international team of engineers managed to drill a narrow hole through tons of rock to hit the sweet spot where the men were hidden, without further destabilizing the precarious mine. The machine that hauled the men up to the surface looked endearingly crude, like a man-sized vacuum tube or a clunky Dr. Who time-travel machine, and their reunions with their thrilled loved ones supplied a whole gaggle of blockbuster-worthy happy endings.
Unfortunately, Patricia Riggen's The 33 sucks almost all the weirdness, wonder, and ecstasy out of a truly dramatic story to make it feel falsely melodramatic. Each main character is assigned just one or two distinguishing traits and weighed down with clunky expository dialogue spoken in heavily accented English, while the film doles out a shock or hits a (usually hollow) emotional note every few minutes with mechanical precision. Read the rest in Slant Magazine