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Thirteen Lives Review: Ron Howard’s Thai Cave Rescue Drama

Against all odds. One miracle that united the world.

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

https://youtu.be/R068Si4eb3Y

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

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Animation

DC and Warner Bros. Discovery on Cusp of Animation Deal with Amazon

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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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Drama

Scarlett Johansson Set to Lead Amazon’s ‘Just Cause’ in First Major Television Role

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 When one considers their favorite streaming services, you rarely hear Amazon Prime Video being at the top of that list. The mega online shopper turned entertainment conglomerate has The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys and now, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power as their shows of note, however, they’ve always lacked star power. It seems with the streamer’s latest show announcement that times are changing for Amazon.

According to an exclusive from Deadline, Scarlett Johansson is set for her first role in TV starring in Just Cause based on the 1992 novel written by John Katzenbach. Christy Hall (I’m Not Okay with This) will pen the adaptation that will gender swap the main character from Matt Cowart to Madison “Madi” Cowart, who will be played by Johansson. Cowart is a struggling reporter for a Miami newspaper who is sent to cover the final remaining days of a convict on death row.

The role is significantly unique to Johansson as her second on-screen role at the age of 10, was in a 1995 feature film version of the novel playing the daughter of the revamped lead character, Paul Armstrong, played by Sean Connery. Johansson, a two-time Oscar nominee will also produce the film under her These Pictures production banner. 

Johansson has spent most of her time over the last decade playing one of the main Avengers for Marvel as Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow. She first appeared as the character in 2010’s Iron Man 2 before succumbing to her death in the highest-grossing film of all-time, Avengers: Endgame. Following that, she led her own prequel film aptly titled, Black Widow in 2021 following the pandemic. Johansson was also lauded recently for Jojo Rabbit and Marriage Story, both performances coming in 2019 and earning her Oscar nominations. The actress is currently filming Project Artemis for Apple alongside Channing Tatum and Asteroid City, the latest from auteur Wes Anderson.

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60TH ANNIVERSARY OF JAMES BOND CELEBRATES WITH MUSIC

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To Celebrate James Bond Day Prime Video announced that 25 James Bond films will be available to stream in the U.S., U.K, and other key territories as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the legendary film franchise. Prime Video also unveiled the official posters and trailers for the 60th-anniversary celebration and for The Sound of 007, a Mat Whitecross-helmed feature documentary about the remarkable history of six decades of James Bond music that will premiere exclusively on Prime Video in 240 countries and territories worldwide. All 25 of the Bond franchise films and The Sound of 007 will be available from today, October 5th. 

THE SOUND OF 007 

You can read my review for The Sound of 007 Documentary HERE

The 25 films coming to Prime Video in the U.S., U.K., Australia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico/Latin America (excluding Brazil), Spain, and Southeast Asia for a limited time are Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre, and No Time To Die. With the exception of No Time To Die, the 24 films will be available for a limited time in territories including Germany, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Brazil. 

THE SOUND OF 007 IN CONCERT

Additionally, following the live October 4 EON Productions and David Arnold-created charity concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Prime Video will globally stream an exclusive recording of the show—The Sound of 007: LIVE from the Royal Albert Hall.

At the event, guest vocalists and a host of stars performed the iconic Bond themes. The event marked 60 years since the world premiere of Dr. No,the first 007 film,on 5 October 1962 and will benefit Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy and The BRIT Trust. All funds raised from this spectacular event will go directly towards helping thousands of people across the UK to connect and communicate through the power of music.

Highlights included Dame Shirley Bassey, the only artist to record three James Bond songs, who delighted fans by opening the show with ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and ‘Goldfinger’. Original performing artists Lulu and Garbage then took to the stage to perform their hits ‘The Man with the Golden Gun” and ‘The World Is Not Enough’ respectively. Paying tribute to more recent Bond films, legendary composer Hans Zimmer accompanied the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and David Arnold to perform a “No Time To Die” suite.

The Hall’s celebration of James Bond will continue with Films in Concert screenings of Casino Royale (2006), Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015) from 17-20 November.

The Sound of 007 in concert at The Royal Albert Hall on October 04, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for EON Productions & Prime Video)

SIXTY YEARS OF JAMES BOND CHARITY AUCTION

Christie’s and EON Productions charity evening auction, Sixty Years of James Bond, realises a total of £6,103,500 

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of 007 on the silver screen, 100% of the 25 lots presented were sold during the evening. The auction vendors, led by EON Productions, are donating 100% of their auction proceeds to nominated charitable causes, and Christie’s is donating 100% of the profitable proceeds from the buyer’s premium.

The top lot of Part I Live Auction was the No Time To DieAston Martin replica DB5 stunt car, selling for an impressive £2,922,000. Lively bidding saw a Swarovski crystal-mounted prop egg made by Asprey, London in the manner of Fabergé from the film Octopussy (1983) reach £327,600, against a pre-sale high estimate of £10,000 to benefit UNICEF. Other highlights included The World Is Not Enough Q jet boat, realising £126,000, No Time To Die Aston Martin V8, making £630,000, and an OMEGA Seamaster Diver 300M 007 Edition, selling for £226,800. The No Time To Die Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE stunt motorcycle closed the spectacular evening achieving £138,600 for Severn Hospice.

DECCA RECORDS PRESENTS BOND 25

Decca Records presents Bond 25, an orchestrated album featuring all 25 of the iconic Bond themes expertly reimagined and newly recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The album, recorded at Abbey Road Studios, includes brand new arrangements of the iconic title themes including From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, GoldenEye andDie Another Day, tracks listed chronologically from 1962’s Dr. No to 2020’s UK No.1 single No Time To Die.

The 60th Anniversary Celebrations have well and truly started as we celebrate an iconic and monumental occasion. This year is all about the music and showcasing the remarkable history of the iconic Bond themes and scores that have been written/sung for more than 6 decades.

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