The 33 Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews this gripping true story of survival that reveals the never-before-seen actual events that unfolded, above and below ground, which became nothing less than a worldwide phenomenon.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: Warner – 2015
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 127 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish/French
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro, Bob Gunton, Gabriel Byrne, Lou Diamond Phillips, Oscar Nunez, Juan Pablo Raba, Jacob Vargas, Kate Del Castilla, Bob Gunton, James Brolin
Directed by: Patricia Riggen
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Michael Thomas based on the book “Deep Down Dark” by Hector Tobar
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 16, 2016

“Discover the Miraculous True Story”

My Take:

In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 stories beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions—and time—were quickly running out. A story of resilience, personal transformation and triumph of the human spirit, the film takes us to the Earth’s darkest depths, revealing the psyches of the men trapped in the mine, and depicting the courage of both the miners and their families who refused to give up.

I remember hearing reports of this incident on the news but regrettably didn’t follow it that closely until hearing about the outcome. What an incredible and inspirational story that speaks to the human condition on a basic yet tangible level. Based on the book “Deep Down Dark” by Hector Tobar, The 33 recounts the 69 day ordeal of 33 men trapped 200 stories below ground in a rock encased tomb that could have very well been their final resting place. Instead their story became one of triumph, faith, courage and the indomitable power of their spirit.

The film seeks to be true to the events as it conveys the unfolding nature of what occurred both above and below ground. The narrative’s juxtaposition gets a bit muddled here and there as it slips into conventional trappings but I didn’t find it diluted the film’s emotional depth. As I watched I found myself absorbed in the crisis, the torment of the families and the struggle for survival of the 33 men as they tried to cope with what lied in store. As the storyline unfolded I pulled for the men to keep it together and rooted for those above ground. There are several supporting subplots that work fairly well and overall focus remains on point. The pacing stalls just a little, but again, didn’t adversely affect the thematic impact.

I loved the cast, especially those portraying the trapped miners. Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips and Juan Pablo Raba were particularly good. Rodrigo Santoro’s portrayal of the young Chilean Minister of Mining is worthy of note as well. Despite knowing the outcome of its true story, I found The 33 to be an engrossing, emotive and heartwarming drama.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for a disaster sequence and some language.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):

Video: 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

The 33 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.

This film’s visual style doesn’t lend itself to eye catching color or infinite levels of dimension but this is a creative decision that doesn’t reflect negatively on its presentation Resolution is excellent as images are clearly rendered with appreciable detail and discerning nuance during close ups. The chromatic range is purposefully limited to muted primary colors and softer secondary hues, with splashes of bright color that offsets the differing environs featured in the story. Coupled with the drab lighting schemes and dark cinematography this makes for a thematically affecting look. Skin tones among the cast vary and range from Rosy to pale while appearing textural and predominantly lifelike. Blacks are deep and dynamic and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t see any signs of video related artifacts in this whistle clean high definition presentation that looks spectacular.

This 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly active and features an engaging surround mix that has extended dynamic range that positively renders the elements in the recording. Where appropriate the mix transform the listening area into a three dimensional sound field filled via immersive surround activity that mates perfectly with the events unfolding onscreen. Low frequency effects produce deep bass that rumbles with tactile authority. Dialogue is reproduced with lucid expression and exacting clarity that produced just the slightest hint of sibilance in the upper registers. This is a well-crafted sound design that features high level sonic detail, spot on directional correlation and solid bass extension.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) The Mine Collapse – 4 minute featurette
  • (HD) The 33: The World Was Watching – 3 minute featurette
  • (HD) Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Based on the book “Deep Down Dark” by Hector Tobar, The 33 recounts the true events surrounding the 69 day ordeal of 33 men trapped 200 stories below ground after a catastrophic Chilean mine collapse in 2010. Despite falling prey to conventional trappings and a slightly off kilter screenplay, I found the film to be an engrossing, emotive and heartwarming drama. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring an excellent technical presentation mated with a disappointing supplemental offering. Genre fans that enjoy a good human interest story are sure to find The 33 well worth checking out. Feel free to toss it in your rental queue and take it for a spin on Blu-ray.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package