Adrift (2018)

Adrift. Released: June 1, 2018. Directed by: Baltasar Kormákur. Starring: Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin, the Ocean. Runtime: 1h 36 min.

“Adrift” is a lost-at-sea survival drama based on a true story, a welcome change of pace of summer survival movies after survival against sharks the past two summers (“The Shallows” and “47 Meters Down” respectively).

Characters still fight for survival, but a shark isn’t an obstacle. Instead, Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley, also producing) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin) deal with the aftermath of being caught in a Category 4 hurricane.

We’re put into the story right when Tami wakes up after the hurricane. The screenplay takes us between survival drama and romance as we’re told their story through flashbacks. The jumps back in time sometimes span multiple scenes, and as the film advances there are shorter scenes as the timeline catches up to the present, where Tami and Richard are “adrift” in the Pacific Ocean.

The transitions are creative. There’s a scene where Tami sails Richard’s sailboat, the Mayaluga, for the first time and she shouts in excitement. It’s a moment of euphoria that switches to distress as it slams forward in time as Tami shouts for Richard, unable to find him. The story structure helps for pacing. Though, it takes a while for the hurricane scene to actually happen –it’s great when it comes, especially because of the immersive sound design.

The constant switch between the two genres helps it feel diverse, as too many consecutive scenes of the survival portion and it starts to feel flat. The scenes of romance between the two adventurous characters is also nice because Woodley and Claflin have a nice chemistry. There a lot of sweet flashback scenes, and there are also pretty moments on the boat before all hell breaks loose.

We don’t get to know a lot about Tami before she sets sail other than she and Richard like sailing, she’s traveling the world and is a free spirit who doesn’t want to go home. Shailene Woodley’s consistently good and that’s no different here. She plays romantic very well and makes those scenes feel sincere. After the hurricane hits, we learn the character’s resourceful and it’s great watching Woodley get into the psyche of survival. She plays the moments of strength, as well as heartbreaking moments of vulnerability, really well.

Adrift featured

Sam Claflin and Shailene Woodley in Adrift. (IMDB)

Sam Claflin is good, too, but he has so much more to do during the romantic part of the film and doesn’t do much during the survival because of his injuries. His performance will frequently be an afterthought to Woodley.

There are a few surprises in the story, which is nice, and while it sometimes feels derivative of other survival movies, it’s very much fueled by the strong connection between the characters. It’s a faithfully adapted screenplay written by twin screenwriters Aaron and Jordan Kendall (part of the writing team on Pixar’s “Moana”), who wrote it with Woodley in mind to star. Writer David Branson Smith (“Ingrid Goes West”) also joined as a writer later.

The film’s directed by Baltasar Kormákur, returning to the survival genre after 2015’s “Everest,” and it’s a good return to the genre. He gets great performances from his primary cast, and there aren’t many other principal cast members to direct. The only ones important to the story include an older couple, Peter (Jeffrey Thomas) and Christine (Elizabeth Hawthorne). They give Tami and Richard $10,000 to sail their yacht back to California, and are the reason why the couple cross paths with the hurricane.

Partly due to the lack of supporting cast, Kormákur easily makes the Ocean feel like the film’s third star. This is also assisted by the amazing cinematography by Oscar winner Robert Richardson (“Hugo,” “The Aviator”, “JFK”) who captures the scope of the direness of the characters’ situation. He makes every scene look beautiful, and that more than makes up for where the film lacks in non-stop tension.

Score: 75/100

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Hugo (2011)

Hugo

Release Date: November 23, 2011Director: Martin ScorseseStars: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ben KingsleyRuntime: 126 min.

Hugo is a fantastic film that really sweeps the audience up with its charm, lavish production design, engaging cinematography and thoroughly impressive visuals. One great thing about this is that it isn’t only a marvelous piece of cinema, eye candy or a great film of technical achievements, but it’s a fairly simple and emotional mystery that is easy to follow, but it also gives something special for us film buffs and older audiences alike.

Film buffs might have the mystery figured out by the time they understand who a primary character is, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be a compelling watch. There’s some real emotion in the concept of being forgotten, as we all we want to be respected in some way and we know what it’s like to be neglected at some point. In this way, we can really relate to some of the characters. Hugo also knows what it’s like to be alone as he as an orphan, and it’s really something more most can relate to.

The antagonist, a train inspector portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen, is also very funny, and he has an extra real layer, because he has one bad leg and he knows what it’s like to be an outcast. His character might as well just be called the Orphan catcher. Cohen has proven to be a versatile performer, as he voices a King lemur in the animated Madagascar series; he has taken on roles in musicals like Sweeney Todd and Les Misérables; while he still plays his signature characters of a flamboyant Austrian trying to make his way in the film industry (Bruno), an Anti-semetic foreigner (Borat) and his most recent character of General Aladeen in The Dictator. He’s really a rare and great talent, if you can get past his tendency to always show frontal nudity. Ben Kingsley also offers a great performance, as do the young actors, Chloë Grace Moretz and Asa Butterfield.

Hugo is Martin Scorsese’s ode to film. It’s also a great ode to one of the greatest pioneers of the film industry (watch the film and find out who!), all wrapped up in a magnificent family adventure that is truly delightful and one of the finest films of 2011. It’s a must-see for cinephiles everywhere, and it’s a visual treat for the whole family.

Score91/100