Friday, August 26, 2005

Capsule Reviews

This should go on my much-neglected movie review page. (Trev, we've failed it, i think.) But I needed some new stuff here, so here you go.

Now in Theaters:

The Great Raid:
This film involves part of WWII history that I'm not as familiar with. It seems like everyone has a basic knowledge of the European theater of the war, but fewer know much about the Pacific theater. This film involves what is, to this day, still the most successful rescue mission in American military history. During this raid, 500 American POW's are rescued from the Japanese, in the Phillipines. From what I've read, the film is incredibly accurate historically, which is amazing. Good film, a bit long, but it gives you a good grasp of the conditions the soldiers lived in, as well as what the civilians in the occupied islands did to work against the Japanese. Many critics have accused the filmmakers of stereotyping the Japanese soldiers, but if this film is as accurate as I've read, then the brutal depictions shouldn't be sugar-coated for modern viewers. Let's show it as it was.

One thing I appreciated about this film, that sets it apart from other recent war movies (with the exception of Saving Private Ryan): There's no pandering or backpedalling. No "we were just as bad" justifications or "they were misunderstood" apologism. Most modern filmmakers feel the need to do this type of thing to show that America is barbaric too, so that it doesn't seem like we're elevating ourselves above our former enemies. There's no need for that here. No need for post-Vietnam-era second-guessing and self-doubt. We were attacked by the Japanese, and we were right to defend ourselves, as well as the countries that were being conquered in the name of the Japanese "empire." So bravo to the filmmakers for resisting the temptation to soften the pro-American-military feeling of the movie.

I also loved that, during the ending credits, they showed actual newsreel footage of troops returning home and being greeting by throngs of appreciative and adoring Americans. Makes you miss the days when the public as a whole showed their support and love for the men and women in uniform, instead of calling them killers, monsters, and tools of the corporate machine.

Now on DVD:

Coach Carter:
Basically, "Stand and Deliver" on the basketball court. Overall, a very enjoyable film. But I can't give it my full stamp of approval, because of one storyline that left me FURIOUS. One of the student-athletes had a pregnant girlfriend. When she talked about the future at one point, he said, I've got to think about my future, and you should do the same; we have to make certain choices. Later on in the film, it appears that he is going to make the right choice, and take care of the girl and their baby. When he goes to her to tell her so, she says, "You were right, i had to make a choice for myself." When he asks, "what about the baby?", she responds, "There is no baby." She looks somewhat sorry to say this. He responds, "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you, when it happened." And that's basically it. Then they're both happy and look forward to the future together. And the dead baby, aborted for the sake of convenience, just...vanishes. That ruined the film for me. Completely ruined it. I'm happy for you, dude; take control of your life. Take responsibility. But killing your baby is not it. (But then again, i'm an uncaring, unsympathetic middle-class white guy; i've never been in their situation, so what do I know?)

A Lot Like Love:
I went in with low expectations, which is part of the reason why I enjoyed this film, to a point. I laughed several times, and I really wanted to like the characters. But when thinking back over this film, I became more and more disappointed. This is one of the most unromantic movies I've seen in a while. There is no self-sacrifice, no nobility, no common sense even, between these two characters. They use each other as rebounds, and after a night of passion, they make excuses about their complete lack of commitment. Basically, neither of them deserve to be in anything resembling a healthy relationship. It's a paint-by-numbers rom-com that just has a few more numbers than usual. On the other hand, the characters (while being moral vacuums) are mildly amusing, and I really tried to like them. So--worth a RedBox dollar rental, but do yourself a favor and DON'T be like either of these people. Ever.

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