Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Phantom" Review of Sub Flick from New Perspective

In early August 1968, the wreck of Soviet diesel-electric, strategic ballistic missile submarine K-129 was identified by a unit of the United States Navy northwest of Oahu in 16,000 feet of Pacific Ocean water.  For highly classified purposes the U.S. president authorized a clandestine effort to recover certain items of high military intelligence value.

The wreck of a United States Navy Skipjack class sub was located on the Atlantic Ocean's bottom beneath 9,800 ft of water at 32°54.9'N, 33°08.89'W. Her sinking marked the unexplained loss of 99 crewmen, sophisticated spy gear, possible nuclear torpedoes, and a mangled nuclear propulsion system. The best available evidence indicates she sank 22 May 1968 around 1844 (Zulu time) during Atlantic transit from Gibraltar to Norfolk, Virginia.

USS Scorpion (SSN-579) was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 June 1968. Vigilis received a classified photo briefing of wrecked USS Scorpion (SSN-579) during the height of the Cold War.  The briefing room contained a total of 5 submariners with appropriate clearances from SSNs then present at SubBase Groton. The briefing is mentioned only as a point of historical relevance in connection with review of the 2013 submarine movie "Phantom" by someone actually living through that Cold War period on an nuclear sub.

*****"P H A N T O M"  R E V I E W*****
The worst reviews typically come from submariners. Submariners insist on accuracy in not only the tiniest of details, but conformity with their often limited experiences, and most of all, with the approved dictates of   military authorities. Examples:

This popular submariner's review rated the flick at  ** out of ***** (40%) and claimed,  "The story itself was pretty poor. ... you have to suspend disbelief even more than normal for a Cold War tale."  

Yet another reviewer (Holgard at IMDB) claiming to be a retired Soviet submarine officer, rated the movie "a fake" giviing it a mere 3 stars of ten (30%).  His reasons, like his dialogue, appear highly superficial to say the least (excerpt): "1. We never rose our greatcoat collars, 2. In Russian (as well as in Soviet) army it is forbidden to give a salute without headress, 3. It is absolutely impossible if a Soviet officer get married in church. 

Netflix gives Phantom a more respectable 3 star (60%) rating, which for a sub flick means it probably captured some women audience with its emotionally theatrical ending. Netflix movies geared toward males alone usually garner only 45% (2-1/2 stars) or less. This can be easily proven to yourselves by selecting titles that appeal to males (military) versus those appealing to women (romance), and those appealing to both (comedy).

Vigilis rates Phantom (80%) overall:
100% for authenticity of Cold War feeling of US:Soviet submarine conflict,
80% for the historical accuracy of China's ballistical missile development and the Sino:Soviet rift,
70% for treatment of compromised US:Soviet submarine intelligence,
70% for character acting,
90% for script creativity (use of phantom device),
70% for brevity and theatrical license (98 minutes).

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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