I’ve been watching a few war movies here of late because they were in my queue at Netflix and I didn’t want to put anything at the top. The three movies: Letters from Iwo Jima, Age of Heroes and the last one, The Great Raid I just finished watching. In fact, the credits are still rolling as I write this. So I will review them in reverse order.
The Great Raid
I was about a third of the way through this movie when I realized that I had seen it before, but I couldn’t remember how it ended. Apparently, on my first viewing, it left so little impression upon me that I completely forgot that I had seen it. After viewing it a second time, I’m glad that in a few moments, I will be able to forget it all over again.
Just a few thoughts. The story behind the movie is really a great story and I’m sure that the two books the movie is based upon are quite good. But this movie was pure Hollywood slop. I know that all World War II movies cannot compare to Saving Private Ryan, or Blackhawk Down. But this movie lacked any seriousness at all. It really reminded me of Pearl Harbor, or the 35 minutes of Pearl Harbor that I did watch before I got bored with it.
This movie couldn’t figure out whether it was a war movie or a love story. I know that both took place in real life, but the director and Hollywood couldn’t pull it off. There were far too many cliches and no real suspense at all. You knew the outcome before it came. The only question was: which cheesy pretty-faced actor would bite the big one?
Plus the characters were truly two dimensional. What I mean by that is that all the Japanese characters were ruthless, killing machines that thrive on killing and being ruthless. They have one motive, being as ruthless and mean as possible so that we can see that the Japanese are just downright mean killers and evil wicked people.
In comparison with Letters from Iwo Jima, this movie really falls flat. It’s not worth the 2 hours and 12 minutes it took to get through the thing. This was pure Hollywood. It wasn’t someone’s project, but Hollywood cranking out a movie just to fill seats, and it showed.
Age of Heroes
[Warning: slight spoiler alert] I only saw this on Netflix and added it to my queue because it looked like it might be good. It really was. It was about the beginning of Ian Flemming’s commando unites in the United Kingdom that have become so legendary. The squad of men are tasked with going into German occupied Sweden in order to steal some radar equipment so that the British can learn how to jam it.
While Hollywood couldn’t pull it off with The Great Raid, the British company that put this movie together scored big in my book. They even brought in Sean Bean as the commander of this commando unit. Not to give it away, this movie is another one to add to the list of all the movies that Sean Bean had died in. I saw some Youtube clip last week that showed the top five actors who are killed in the movies and Sean Bean was in at number 2. Remember, he died in Lord of the Rings, as well as Patriot Games. Just a couple you know of.
But aside from Sean Bean from getting killed in the next to last scene, it was a great movie. It was actually suspenseful which is something I think is very useful when making war movies. Perhaps the dolts in Hollywood could learn a thing or two from the British gang that made this movie.
Letters From Iwo Jima
Not really. It’s a Clint Eastwood directed movie and had Dreamworks involved. These are serious players in the movie making industry and are know for turning out good movies.
What the first movie I reviewed failed to do, this one pulled off wonderfully. We get to peel away the two-dimensional Japanese ruthless warrior motif and see that these soldiers had hopes and dreams just like our guys did on our side. In fact, one of the main characters, Saigo, is beaten for his comment that he wished the Island would just sink so they could go home to their families. Even those who seem to fit the two-dimensional mold end up breaking it. One Japanese officer is fed up with fighting in the caves, so he takes some land minds, drapes them over his body and goes out and lays in a field waiting for an American tank to run over him. Nothing like that happens at all, and he finally gives up and goes back to the cave.
This movie is also a companion movie to Flags of Our Fathers, which I have not seen. Both movies are about the same event, the capturing of Iwo Jima which was the turning point of the war, but one is from the Americans’ view and Letters is from the Japanese perspective. I can’t wait to see Flags of Our Fathers, and if I ever get a decent paying job, I’m going to buy both of them.