*** Official "K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Stephen Orr, Jul 13, 2002.

  1. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 1999
    Messages:
    1,099
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Just got back from seeing this at a sneak at our local military theater, and wanted to post before going to bed.

    It's 1961 as the film begins, and the Russians are rushing through the completion of their flagship (and first nuclear ballistic) submarine, K-19. It was supposed to be the pride of the Soviet Fleet, but instead became a cursed boat. The current captain, played well by Liam Neeson, is demoted to executive officer to make room for a tough-as-nails replacement, the ever-reliable Harrison Ford. Both actors spend the film speaking with a pseudo-Russian accent, but it doesn't take long to get used to it.

    Anyway, the K-19 seems to be cursed. Ten men had died during its construction, including the ship's doctor in a bizarre truck accident.
    The government wants the sub at sea as a show of strength against the U.S., while at the same time not providing adequate support for its construction. At its launch, the bottle intended to christen the sub does not break,
    a bad omen in maritime lore.

    Once K-19 puts to sea, the crew is immediately put into drill mode by their new captain. He pushes the crew and the sub to their limits, taking the boat past its safety limits. More men are injured, but the captain soon earns a little crew devotion after the sub breaks through the Arctic ice and successfully fires its first test missile (a pretty cool sequence).


    The revelry does not last long, however, as a cooling pipe in the reactor, causing the core to overheat to dangerous levels. The decision is made that another way needs to be found to cool down the core. The only way means that several men will have to voluntarily expose themselves to high amounts of intensive radiation.
    And this is where the movie REALLY starts.

    Like "We Were Soldiers", "K-19" is less about duty to flag and country as it is doing what you have to do for the guy next to you. As a long-time member of the military, I can appreciate that. Although this incident actually happened on board a Russian sub, I can imagine the reactions and decisions being the same were it to happen on an American vessel.

    This movie brought to mind other military-oriented films of the past few years. You have the claustrophobic environment of "Das Boot", and certain relational dynamics seem like they were right out of "Crimson Tide," although "K-19" had distinctly different resolution between the CO and XO of the sub.

    There is little humor in this telling of this tale, however. It's a very straight forward recount of a potentially explosive episode (no pun intended). I really never knew anything about the incident, and don't know how accurate the story is, but it's definitely a tale well told. Hats off to Harrison, Liam and Kathryn Bigelow, the director. Also, I think it's the first time I've ever seen a movie co-produced by National Geographic!

    I'm afraid "K-19: The Widowmaker" is going to get lost in this summer of big-budget spectacles and low-brow comedies, but it's a film that will be appreciated by history and military buffs.
     
  2. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2000
    Messages:
    2,973
    Likes Received:
    508
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Real Name:
    Alfer
    I went to a free sneak preview of this show last night, and came away feeling glad it was free. I realize it's based on a true story, but to be honest only the middle 45 minutes or so are marginally tense and exciting. The first hour DRUG ON FOREVER, and the end wasn't much better. (I know it's based on a true story,and you can't change the story around much, but if Hollywood is gonna try to make it into a summer "blockbuster" then I hoped it would be able make a taught 2+ hour action/drama out of it)

    Unfortunately I couldn't get past the whole fake Russian accent thing, and worst of all was watching Harrison Ford, arguably an American movie icon, struggle to act as a hard-ass Russian sub captain. I just didn't buy it for a second. All I could think about was his past good ol' American roles in Patriot Games, Air Force One, and of course Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

    Sure some actors can get away with a role like this one in K19 (Liam Neeson did a commendable/believable job), but Harrrison Ford is so ingrained in our movie going minds as the good solid American movie icon, he just can't break that mold.

    Several folks walked out of our preview, not sure why, it wasn't THAT bad, but it's certainly no summer blockbuster.

    If you go, see it at a matinee to save yourself some cash.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    31,337
    Likes Received:
    6,590
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "K-19: The Widowmaker". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,749
    Likes Received:
    480
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    I thought this was a pretty well done film, the research on the K-19 sub paid off, as it lent an air of authenticity and claustrophobia while onboard the submarine.

    If you can get past the Russian accents and go with the emotion of the story, you'll enjoy the film more. It's a good story of leadership, comraderie, sacrifice, honor and duty. For those who like military/submarine films, you'll get your money's worth (perhaps at the price of a matinee ticket).

    I give it 3 stars, or a grade of B.
     
  5. steve jaros

    steve jaros Second Unit

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 1997
    Messages:
    491
    Likes Received:
    90
    Trophy Points:
    110
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Real Name:
    Steve
    I was disappointed. As the movie went by, I kept asking myself "why was this film made"? Sub movies are like gangster movies - there are some really good ones out there, so if you're going to make one, you've got to really have your @$!?!@ together!

    If movies like das boot and even hunt for red october didn't exist, this film would be passable. But given that it didn't strike me as being as good as even U-571, i gave it a thumbs down.

    Yeah, comparisons with other films may not be fair, but that's life...
     
  6. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 1999
    Messages:
    11,267
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    U-571 was a bastardization, historical alterations for the sake of rah rah manipulative Emmerich-esque empty patriotism (the British were the ones who recovered the books). Not only that, but it was crappy and totally unrealistic. With K-19, when I saw National Geographic's name on it,I relaxed, because I knew alterations would be slight.

    K-19 was an excellent movie, well acted, well paced. This was not a film about explosions, it was about the people inside the boat. Das Boot is a movie about people, but it's also about raw terror and emotion. Sure the Russian accents were crappy, and frankly I wish Ford had let them drop it. I would have much preferred the movie be acted in Russian, or just drop any semblence of accent.
     
  7. Mike Graham

    Mike Graham Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2001
    Messages:
    766
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    One of the best dramatic movies I've seen all year; I'd put it below Insomnia and on par with Changing Lanes.
    Everything in the film was extremely well done, from the sound design to the acting (Neeson's accent isn't half bad, and he proves once again why he's considered such a strong performer) with Ford turning in a superb performance as the captain of the submarine.
    Half way through the film, there's an extremely tense sequence that plays out which is wonderfully crafted; after that I figured the movie would just wonder for the rest of its 40 minutes, but soon the tension starts to wind up again as the film reaches its conclusion. Of all the movies released since May (excluding Insomnia), this is the best one. [​IMG]
     
  8. LennyP

    LennyP Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    587
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes this isn't an action movie, it's very dramatic. I love Kathryn Bigelow and how she tells the story through the characters. It's incredibly well acted and drew me right in, I've never noticed how fast the time flew by, it didn't "drug on" and made me cry the last 20 mins throughout. I really loved. It's a serious movie, but seeing how there aren't any posts about it here, (what, just 5?!) and that there were only 8 people in AMC Century 14 theater I went to, and its low weekend take, it's getting lost in all the crappy cartoony cgi fests like MIIB and stupid fart joke of a movie like upcoming Austin Powers 3.
    If you want an engaging, masterfuly directed movie with some of the best actors, then go see it, or at least get a DVD later on.
    Movies like this make me ashamed of the state of Joe6Pack moviegoing public in America.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  9. Mark Palermo

    Mark Palermo Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2000
    Messages:
    366
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    During the epilogue of K-19: The Widowmaker--Kathryn Bigelow’s fiercely gripping account of a Russian sub malfunction which nearly led to the outbreak of the Cold War--a prominent character spells out the movie’s themes for viewers who hadn’t been paying attention over the preceding two-hours. It’s the kind of excessive closure which can sacrifice the integrity of a film that previously demonstrated storytelling artistry. Liam Neeson is Mikhail Polenin, the fatherly captain of Soviet submarine K-19. When his position is overtaken by the stern Aleksei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), during a mission to strike communist fear in America with a test-missile, he disregards Polenin’s protests that the sub is not seaworthy, leaving the two men engaged in a war of wills against the impending threat of nuclear disaster. Ford and Neeson tune their performances to an intensity equal to the material itself, while Bigelow creates a sombre, claustrophobic atmosphere that doesn’t let the suspense play as gleeful escapism–a long sequence where crewmembers are forced to expose themselves to radiation poisoning is downright wrenching. This isn’t the first time Bigelow’s attained genre transcendence either. Her Near Dark (1987) and Strange Days (1995) are essential fusions of neo-punk and neo-noir. Chronicling a battle to survive before the possibility of war, K-19 is a rare thriller that actually confronts death seriously. It’s a sturdy and thoughtful offering from one of Hollywood’s most shamefully unheralded filmmakers.

    Rating: A-
     
  10. Rob P S

    Rob P S Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2002
    Messages:
    2,000
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    110
    Real Name:
    rob
    ***1/2 out of ****
     
  11. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2000
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I liked it alot, but then I like most submarine movies. I also like almost all of Ford and Neeson's work, so.

    I have a couple of questions though, perhaps someone can help me out.

    1. The Russian Rank of Captain and Insignia - Obviously they have more than one level of Captain and that is why Capt. Polenin had just one star on his shoulder boards. But Capt. Vostrikov is where my question comes in. While meeting with the Admirals at the beginning of the film, his insignia had 3 stars on each shoulder board. But while in uniform on the sub, his shoulder boards only had 2 stars on them. Except when he put on his big overcoat, it had 3 stars. Does anyone know what's up with that?

    2. Sub Designations - They called the boat K-19, but it had a hull number of 294. Also the other sub which eventually rescued them, they referred to it as 2 hundred something, but it had a hull number of 3 hundred something. Any ideas?
     
  12. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2000
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Since it's been over a week na dthis has fallen off the radar screen for a lot of people I wanted to see if anyone may know the answers to the questions above. Surely someone knows a few things about the Soviet Navy.
    Also, Stephen, what part of Va Bch do you live in? I lived there from 85 to 95, in Indian Lakes, near Ferrell Pkwy and Indian Lakes Blvd.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,749
    Likes Received:
    480
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Please refer any and all discussion of K-19 to the Official K-19 Discussion Thread. The Official Review threads are not suitable for discussing details of the film. Thanks.
     

Share This Page