Thirteen Lives Review: Ron Howard’s Thai Cave Rescue Drama
Against all odds. One miracle that united the world.
On June 23, 2018, 12 boys, ages eleven to sixteen, walked into Tham Luang Nang Non cave in northern Thailand along with their 25-year-old coach. Unexpected heavy rainfall soon trapped the young explorers in a life-or-death situation. Thirteen Lives recounts this incredible true story and of the tremendous global effort it took to rescue the soccer team. Faced with insurmountable odds, a team of the world’s most skilled and experienced divers- uniquely able to navigate the maze of flooded, narrow cave tunnels-join with Thai forces and more than 10,000 volunteers to attempt the harrowing rescue. With high stakes and the entire world watching, the group embarks on their most challenging dive yet, showcasing the limitless of the human spirit in the process.
Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard crafts this unbelievable story with a visceral dramatic style as the film boasts immersive sound design, captivating cinematography, thrilling and suspenseful sequences and incredible performances as throughout, the film depicts how the rescuers, engineers, and divers tried everything in the face of outrageous odds. The movie at times made me feel claustrophobic as we witness the narrow underwater tunnels its tension driven but Howard centres the film’s narrative on the parents, volunteers and decision-makers, this adds to the film’s emotional weight as we as the audience are taken through each day and plan to reuse the boys and their coach.
Thirteen Lives is a well-scripted and edited film that also showcases Thailand’s expansive natural beauty and Community. Monsoon season has strikingly arrived early and the cave becomes flash flooded trapping all thirteen on a ledge many miles inside what now has become dark underwater passages. The Navy Seals join forces with the volunteers and attempt to extract the boys. However, the pitch black waters and the tunnels become more perilous so an international effort intensifies so Rescue divers Rick Stanton (Viggo Mortensen) and John Volanthen (Colin Farrell) from the UK have the experience of diving where no one else had. They flew in to join 10,000 volunteers. The two men take on the mission of mapping the caves and in hope of finding these boys, they recruit more rescue divers including Australian physician Dr Richard Harris (Joel Edgerton) for the most dangerous and never seen rescue attempt.
These characters based on real-life people showcase an example of cooperation, humanity and the power of expertise that happens when you’re under pressure. It’s a film that focuses brilliantly on suspense, mystery, fraught, and physical danger but also an emotional danger as we as the audience are on the edge of our seats anticipating the divers finding the boys, however, what does it mean if there’s a misstep? how long is the rescue really going to take? and what is the ultimate price that has to be paid to achieve this rescue operation?. Director Ron Howard has found critical success in crafting historical and biographical films like “Apollo 13” and “ A Beautiful Mind” He knows how to shoot the details which are utterly captivating. He also spent time with the real-life divers Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson, and spoke with John Volanthen, Chris Jewell, and Dr Harris, collecting information.
The film also boasts some emotional and incredible performances. The film puts together a team of actors and an International ensemble. To play Rick Stanton, three-time Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen brings a sense of stoicism, determination, and smart, grizzled humanism. And To play John Volanthen, Colin Farrell found that a mix of gentleness and heroism would be just the first layer of understanding the actual person he was playing, a man first seen as a father and family man.
Joel Edgerton portrays Dr Richard “Harry” Harris, an Australian cave diver and physician contacted by Stanton to help with the rescue. Each character is a determined protagonist but throughout the film we see them struggle and make sacrifices in order to rescue the boys. The emotional performances also come from the boys’ parents and the local Community and showcase Thai culture respectively.
The film acts as a ticking clock thriller as we watch the divers proceed through the darkened waters. Every minute is tense and well utilised as the cameras show the impact of the rescue mission. Thirteen Lives is truly cinematic.
The incredible true story of the greatest rescue the world has ever seen
hits select theaters exclusively for one week on July 29, launching globally on Prime Video on August 5
Henry Cavill to Headline ‘Warhammer 40K’ Series on Amazon Prime Video
With much of the talk surrounding Henry Cavill regarding his exit from Netflix’s The Witcher along with the shift of mentality from new DC Studios leadership, the actor is in need of a new franchise to jumpstart. It appears that Cavill has done just that with the latest news that comes from The Hot Mic podcast via Above the Line.
It appears that Cavill (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) will steer head an adaptation of Warhammer 40,000 for Amazon Prime Video. Cavill confirmed the news this morning via his Instagram. The property started as a miniature war game akin to Dungeons & Dragons where players control different characters across a battle board, so to speak. The game was a staple in England where Cavill played it much as a kid and his passion for the property has stuck ever since. So much so, that the actor still paints figures to this day for when he engages in play.
The property which is often abbreviated to Warhammer 40K, features a fictional war set 40,000 years into the future between humans and other mystical beings that include orcs, gods, demons, elves, aliens and supernatural entities. The game eventually was brought to the video game space where it amasses tons of players across the sci-fi fantasy gaming landscape. The property also lends itself to novels leaving a lot of room to grow as a franchise in the entertainment space with lore to play with.
Amazon continues to take steps towards building out large franchise plays for their streaming service, Prime Video. In addition to the acquisition of the rights to Warhammer 40,000, the streamer has recently made deals for video game properties like God of War, with creators like Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) and of course, a 2022 that was massive for the streamer with the launches of the pricey Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and Thursday Night Football. As they look to compete with Netflix, Disney+ and other streaming services, it’s a clear shift from Amazon to take some bigger risks for bigger rewards.
Cavill was most recently seen reprising his role as Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s Enola Holmes 2 starring Millie Bobby Brown. In 2023, Cavill will star in Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle which aims to kickstart a new spy-based franchise similar to Mission: Impossible which Cavill also appeared in. He will star in Argylle alongside an all-star cast that includes Catherine O’Hara, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, Ariana DeBose and Dua Lipa.
Amazon Prime Video Sets Another Video Game Adaptation with ‘God of War’
In the hunt for IP and the mining for content across all media, Amazon Prime Video is seizing the moment as they set a series in the world of video games. According to Variety, God of War will be getting a television adaptation on the Prime Video streaming platform.
God of War just recently released its latest game in the franchise, God of War: Ragnarok which has done tremendous sales for PlayStation so it’s as good as any for Amazon to get involved in this project. Rafe Judkins, who acts as Showrunner for Amazon’s pricey fantasy series, The Wheel of Time will be showrunning God of War as Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Iron Man, Children of Men) will write the show.
The popular video game series, God of War debuted in 2005 following Kratos, the titular God of War, who amongst bloodshed in ancient Greece hangs up his weaponry to sail away to Norse realm of Midgard. After seeing Ares terrorize his family and friends, Kratos aims to do right by his wife by sailing away with their son leading to a conquest of battle, emotion and brutality. The series is ripe for an adaptation across film or television with Amazon leading the charge to bring the iconic PlayStation character to screen.
In regard to the series, Katherine Pope, the president of Sony Pictures Television Studios said, “We are so proud and excited to be working with our friends at Amazon Studios and our partners at PlayStation Productions to adapt this beautiful and heartbreaking game into a premium live-action series. Rafe, Mark and Hawk are crafting a transportive series that charts a path through the ancient mythological journey of Kratos.”
God of War is far from the only video game to television adaptation in the works. Also, in the works at Amazon is Fallout, which comes from Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy as well as the upcoming January release of HBO’s The Last of Us which adapts the best-selling PlayStation game. No word yet on who will play Kratos in the series, but it will for sure be a coveted role due to the richness and depth that the character has within the lore of the games.
DC and Warner Bros. Discovery on Cusp of Animation Deal with Amazon
There has been much anticipation in waiting to see the unveiling of the structure of James Gunn and Peter Safran as the new heads of DC for Warner Bros. News came just this week from Gunn that the comic book flagship money maker for Warner Bros. that he and Safran are aiming to make everything cohesive within their vision connecting movies, television, video games and animation throughout the universe. However, a new report from Deadline sees that they may be looking at a new (or additional) streaming home for animated content surrounding their heroes and villains.
In an article originally reported from Deadline, Channing Dungey, the Chairwoman of Warner Bros. Television, has alluded to “closing a big deal” with Amazon featuring DC branded content in animation on their streaming platform, Amazon Prime Video. Though she also explained that HBO Max will be the “first stop” for all things DC, it’s interesting to note a deal such as this potentially going through with a company and competitor as big as Amazon, no less.
While it’s hard to imagine any major DC characters synonymous with the brand such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern getting animated foray onto Prime Video, it begs the question, could we see Amazon as a pipeline to popularity for some lesser-known characters getting introduced to a larger audience? There is so much potential and richness of characters within the DC landscape that have yet to be introduced through live-action or animation so this seems like a risk that might be worth taking, especially considering the financial troubles that Warner Bros. Discovery has been reported to have.
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