Captain Phillips (2013) – I liked this movie.

Spoilers ahead! Don’t read prior to seeing the movie.

I’ve just seen Captain Phillips (2013). I enjoyed very much. More feed-back, below.
cp phillips blog 1

Some thoughts:

  • Good movie. I’ve seen the Bourne series (same director), and also enjoyed it. I intend to watch United 93 and Green Zone.
  • Practical – It’s a smart thing to make the ship to drive more complicated than a car. It’s smart to make an airplane so complicated, when you get in one you have trouble even starting it. The pirates had trouble using the ship. They were on the operational deck, couldn’t use it. Compare that to a car (an older version, not luxury computer-ish one). Or to a bike. Or to a boat. Simple to drive. Compare all these to animal-driven vehicles.
  • It’s a good tip to have provisions in more than one place. Put some water and food in more than one area of the ship. You never know.
  • It’s good for the internal use to have a detailed plan of the ship shown everywhere. When the pirates take over the ship, this is not so good anymore.
  • You should avoid treating people as stupid. Captain Philips succeeds at times, in the movie, but this is not realistic. You’re much more likely to fail at something when you consider your partners are imbecils.
  • Do account for human errors –  in the movie, the crew did some mistakes and not following the exact orders. When the military came in and lives where at stake, the precision of execution was higher. Have a look on the title of this You Are Not So Smart (OK, the content is good, too).
  • The filming of the movie is different than that of old-style movies. In this movie, the camera shakes, and it follows the main character over the shoulder, you can’t see things at times, the angles are poor. There’s a scene in which the camera goes from Tom Hanks to his wife in front of their house. And instead of cutting the scene (show Hanks / show the wife, cut in between), it realistically moves from Hanks to the wife, it makes a long run, you can’t see much from the fast move, you are a bit dizzy. But it’s realistic. Most of this comes from camera shaking, though. Also, the lights in the movie are rather realistic, you can’t see well at times, the colors are vivid (and boring).
  • The captain anticipates the rescue team’s next move and tells them he’s on seat 15, in a semi-coded message. This is one of the biggest takeaways in the movie – the importance of anticipating things.
  • I liked the military SEAL team. Not the fact that they were willing, due to political reasons, to risk the life of the captain, rather than half-fail the mission and let them reach the shore.
  • I liked the fact that they didn’t execute the plan until they were sure of it. They called it “green” when they were sure they could kill someone from a distance. They delayed things until last moment, because they weren’t sure of having all “three greens”.
  • There’s this joke in Romanian – “Cum isi fac oltenii gardul din jurul casei?Bat o scandura si scriu pe ea etc.” (How do some [insert bad adjective] people build they’re fence? They only nail a few planks and write «etc.»”. This is how the movie filming solution was done. You were shown a short image, then you were left imagining the process. When the captain checks something, you see something quick, and then it stops. When the pirates go on the sea, they do little preparing, and then they’re there. You fill in the blanks.
  • In life white is not always white and black is not always black:
    • White is white and black is black – the pirates did a bad thing. The crew & the rescuers did their job. The ship contained some things which were helping people in Africa. The crew & SEALS were better trained, educated, civilized. Killing the pirates was a necessity. The Americans treated the pirates fair. At times, more fair than necessary.
    • Things are fuzzy and white is not so white and black is not so black. The Americans treated and had an attitude, although not expressed in actions, of superiority – the captain felt much smarter, the overall feeling I got was “we are better than you”. Not only the captain. Also, at least some cargo could belong to some corporations which may have gone unethical. While this was not obvious from the movie, I think some pirates don’t have an option between – “be poor or be better as a pirate”, but “starve to death or risk your life trying to live as a pirate”. Finally, there were four skinny people in a small boat (with guns & a ladder) attacking a huge vessel with a large crew. Something a bit nice about that.
  • Question – Americans have better actions, and are justified. Are they better than the Somali who have little choice? Does the education make them better people? Isn’t the system and place where you are born give you much better options of being the good/bad guy? Is it all that simple – “they’re pirates, they’re inherently bad?”
  • “You talk too much”. Sometimes, talking does more harm than good. I wrote about this. In the movie, this wasn’t necessarily true.
  • You can’t fight a power which is much greater than yours. Sure, you may dream of winning the Lottery, of hitting things big. Simple Economics tells you that there is no gain without pain. The only possible way in which you can get rich quickly is risk things – risk the lottery, risk of being caught, risk of dying. The good guys in the movie and the bad guys in the movie are separated by the fact that the good guys have a history of work past them (and the luck to have been born in a society which gave them opportunities). The bad guys can’t trick life quickly without going through tremendous risk.
  • I think, even in tough times, you can control your behavior pretty well.
  • Some big decisions in the movie are taken at very high levels. I think this is realistic.
  • The pirates seem to trust the captain more than he trusts them. This is a rather negative aspect of the captain, he cheats them quite a few times, and treats them as stupid people. Not nice. He has to save his life? OK, he has a reason behind this. Still, not nice.
  • Some final thoughts – I watched in the movie with intense pleasure. I like to see situations in which people are close to death. I learn lots of things through this. I absolutely despise horror movies, they focus only on the emotions prior to being traumatized. Not sexy. I don’t like to watch news in which they focus on killings, and they redo the process of “hmm, how did this happen?”. I also don’t watch documentaries of “OK, they were killed, what were their mistakes?”. I learn little from all of these diverse situations. On the other hand, an action movie with things which are done prior to dying has some cool things in it:
    • At least a bit realistic.
    • You know, although a tough movie, it’s nothing you can’t handle. Nothing horror, nothing disgusting.
    • You can learn quite a few things, much more things you learn from a documentary.
    • It’s fun.
    • It’s extreme, it’s something you don’t live in the day-to-day, but, after successfully going through this, you should be able to be better at the day-to-day life. By watching someone handle extreme situations, you should be better at non-extremes.
    • Generally, I learn some things from a movie such as this. Sure, this doesn’t mean I should only watch movies like this one, but it’s quite OK. Another movie like this – The Grey (RO).
  • I don’t like to watch movie trailers. After watching the movie, they’re quite OK, though.

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