Cert: 15 Runtime: 169 mins Director: Steven Spielberg Cast: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore, Vin Diesel and Paul Giamatti
He better be worth it. He better go home and cure a disease, or invent a longer-lasting light bulb
When I think of epic war films you always think about Saving Private Ryan, so I thought it deserves to be my blast from the past this week.During WWII, Chief of Staff, General Marshall is informed that three of a woman’s sons have been killed and that she’s going to receive the notifications of their demise at the same time. And when he learns that a fourth son is still unaccounted for, the General decides to send a unit to find him and bring him back, despite being told that it’s highly unlikely that he is still alive and the area that he was known to be at is very dangerous. So the unit consisting of 8 men are sent to find him but as stated it’s very dangerous and one by one, each of them are being picked off. Will they find him and how many of them will still be alive.
There is no way any movie can ever portray the horrors of war, but this movie along with “Apocalypse Now” does get a little close to that hell.The opening battle sequence is the most impressive feature in the movie and one that even people that hate the movie seem to applaud. I’m sure that real war is a lot more chaotic and definitely a lot more violent but this movie gets pretty close to it. We get to see bullets whizzing by our heads and people lying on the floor with their guts hanging out. One little detail I did love was how even before the men arrive on the beach they were being slaughtered right in the sea water and some of the them drowning due to them not being able to remove their equipment in time. It really does make one fully appreciate the hell that the brave men went through..The movie does share many similarities with the classic “Schindler’s List” with the most obvious one being the look of the movie. They went with a white and black approach in “Schindler’s List” because a lot of the pictures from that era where in black and white and with this movie they went with that grayish bleached look because a lot of the war footage from that time looked like that. Janusz Kaminski shoots his most impressive looking movie yet and proves why he’s one of the best in the business. I love the little white flares that pop up on the edges of frames at times. It’s usually a mistake that DP’s try to avoid but he uses it on purpose to give it a unique look and uses it well. It makes the movie look like a documentary, which greatly helps in the battle scenes since it looks like you’re watching actual footage and not a Hollywood movie.
The ensemble cast lead by Tom Hanks all give strong performances and the small little character moments does help you feel a little closer to the characters and really miss them when they die. The “Earn It” moment with Hanks at the end of the movie a great piece of acting and one that should bring a tear to anyone capable of displaying the least bit of emotion. Equally impressive the Edward Burns who plays the hot head that’s not afraid to let his opinion be known. The other actors including Barry Pepper and Vin Diesel are great too, especially when they have their great little dialogs about life and war.The great Gary Rydstrom is behind the sonic tour de force that is the audio to this movie and judging by the way that war veterans came up and thanked him for the sound, I’m guessing he nailed the sound of war on the head. Like the battle scenes I’m sure real war is a lot louder and explosions more gut rumbling, but this is meant to be a movie and not training simulation for the army. Loud summer movies can be painful to listen to, but Rydstrom and his team give you the great sound without damaging your eardrum.
I love the loud bombastic stuff that John Williams does as much as the next guy but when he does his low key scores that’s when he truly shines to me. There’s not an awful lot of music in the movie since to make the battle scenes as realistic as possible there couldn’t be any music, but the brief stuff we do get from him is nothing short of amazing. I like him a lot more when he’s like this because it proves to that unlike most composers with limited vocabularies, he’s actually capable of doing more than loud action scores. My favorite cue and what to me is one of Williams’ best achievements is the “Wade’s Death” cue which is the great piece he plays for when the character Wade dies. It’s really difficult to hear in the movie since it’s mixed so low but one only need to listen to the album to hear it in its full glory. Overall it’s a very strong score that I hope more people mention when it comes to great John Williams music.Steven Spielberg gives the ultimate tribute to the greatest generation with this movie and it really proves why he’s one of the best in the industry. It’s one of the most powerful movies ever made and should make you make anyone who watches it more grateful for the sacrifice the greatest generation mad. 8.5/10