The 33 - Super Mario Went Down a Pipe and Can't Get Back Up

Matthew Parkinson | 13 Nov 2015 12:00
CineMarter - RSS 2.0

Failing as a drama, comedy, thriller, and disaster movie, The 33 has almost nothing to offer audience members.

To try to keep things interesting - since it automatically fails as a drama because it lacks any characters for us to care about - The 33 splits its time between attempting to be a typical disaster movie, which means we get dialogue like "That's not a rock! It's the heart of the mountain!!!" which, like many lines in the film, is delivered in such an over-the-top manner that you can't take it even remotely seriously. Whenever things look like they're going to succeed, they don't, at least for a little bit. That's how the filmmakers try to generate suspense, which winds up being laughable since you can predict the exact points when it all goes wrong. If you want to entertain yourself, keep track of how close you get when making those predictions. I got within ten seconds. And don't even get me started when the miners attempt to alienate one of their members because he was offered a book deal - as we're watching a movie based on their story. Not that it matters, since they make up within five minutes and the tension between them doesn't come back into play for the rest of the film.

The other thing it does is attempt to make us laugh. Yes, the miners are in a literal life-or-death situation that has a "less than 1%" chance of turning out okay, but when you can't make us care about individual miners or even make their situation even remotely tense, you may as well try to make light of it. There are two recurring jokes in The 33. The first revolves around marital infidelity - one of the miners has a wife and a mistress, and they don't get along (hilarious!) - and the other is about racism - there's a Bolivian among the Chileans, and they insult him because he's Bolivian (also hilarious!). There's also this out-of-place fantasy sequence that is supposed to relate itself to The Last Supper, but is played totally for laughs, goes on for far too long, and doesn't match the tone of the rest of the film at all. What were the filmmakers thinking?

Meanwhile, there's a little bit of effort spent making us aware of how exploited miners are, but only a little bit. That political intrigue could have helped The 33's case, but since almost no attention winds up being paid toward it, it feels tacked-on instead. The informative cards at the end tell us that the miners received no compensation for what happened to them, and that this is an injustice - and it's telling us this with the miners all taking turns smiling and the happiest music one could find playing in the background. It's just baffling.

Failing as a drama, comedy, thriller, and disaster movie, The 33 has almost nothing to offer audience members. Over the course of its two-hour running time, it fails to offer more than a single character whose name you'll remember, gives us cheesy dialogue, terrible attempts at humor, no tension, and a tacked-on attempt to make it feel like it wants to be about the injustice of the situation not just for these miners, but for miners all throughout Chile. It has the emotional depth of watching someone play Super Mario Bros. 2 and seeing Mario get sucked down a pipe, not knowing if they'll be able to get him back to the surface.

Bottom Line: The 33 is a disaster of a movie, but not in a good way, or in the way its filmmakers hoped. The 33 is a dull movie that adheres to formula and fails to entertain or make us care.

Recommendation: Skip The 33 and just read about the story online. You'll save time and you won't have to watch this failure.


If you want more of Matthew "Marter" Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.

Comments on