In 2018, 12 soccer players and their coach ventured into the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Thailand and became trapped when the cave flooded. The search-and-rescue operation made international headlines for weeks, as rescuers from around the world came together to try to save them. Director Ron Howard has proven his ability to adapt real-life stories for the drama of the big screen, and he is now exploring the Tham Luang cave rescue in the upcoming film Thirteen Lives. Critics have screened the film, so let’s see what they have to say.
Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell and Joel Edgerton star as part of the team attempting the rescue of the young footballers. Expectations are high, as the survival drama is already generating 2023 Oscar buzz after receiving the best test scores in MGM studio history. So let’s get right to it, starting with CinemaBlend’s review of Thirteen Lives. Mike Reyes rates the movie 3 out of 5 stars, saying that while survival movie lovers should still be pleased, Ron Howard opts for realism over melodramatic thrills. For example, conversations about the expectation of casualties replace rousing inspirational speeches. Reyes said:
Lovia Gyarkye of THR calls it a reliably tense retelling but says it lacks depth. This critic wishes more time were devoted to the parents’ struggles or how the boys survived, rather than the discomfort the divers felt with the press:
Danielle Solzman of Solzy at the Movies rates Thirteen Lives a 4.5 out of 5, lauding Ron Howard for being able to bring the intensity, despite the fact that we already know the ending going into the film:
The only problems that Todd McCarthy of Deadline has with Ron Howard’s latest project is that the story was already told in the high-profile documentary The Rescue last year, and Thirteen Lives’ release to streaming after only a week might discourage audiences from seeing it on the big screen as Howard intends:
David Erhlich of IndieWire agrees, at least on the point of Thirteen Lives having to compete with The Rescue, which this critic argues might have been better. This movie garnered a C+, but the review acknowledges that the story of the Tham Luang cave rescue is incredible enough to survive any storytelling deficiencies, and Ron Howard provides an engrossing rendition of the event:
With the Oscar buzz this movie is already garnering, you might want to catch this one in theaters when it premieres Friday, July 29. However, if a trip to the movies isn’t in the cards, Amazon Prime Video subscribers will have access to Thirteen Lives starting on Friday, August 5. In the meantime, check out some more movies based on true-life survival stories, and keep up with what else is coming to theaters soon with our 2022 Movie Release Schedule.
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Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.