Remember, when I said I was done writing blog posts? Remember when I wrote my first blog post and said I would not write a second… then I did? Remember, when I wrote my second blog post and said I would not write a third… then I did? Then, I wrote a third blog post and said …
…you see where this is going. Here is the issue: I am married to the film’s director. We have been in quarantine for a while. While in quarantine, dodging the director is far more difficult for me than it was before. In quarantine, you can only hide under your desk or in the closet for so long. When you are quarantined with a film’s director, and she’s asking you to do something, but you haven’t yet done it, then she finds you hiding under your desk, how do you think the quarantine would be going for you?
Yeah, I thought so. You’d be writing another blog post, too. So shut up.
But here’s the thing. My prior blog posts were all happiness and joy, sunshine and flowers. The best of this, the top ten of that, the wonderful memories of whatever …
…but no more. No more, I say. After what I believe to be my 3,543rd day in quarantine, I am an edgier, angrier blogger. Consider yourself warned.
Of course, I guess I still need a topic. I need one that fits my mood. I need one that will allow me both to satisfy my wife but still get out my aggression.
How about a list of war films with which you should not waste your time?
Yep, that’ll do it.
This list comes with one important caveat: this list is not based on historical accuracy. I see plenty of reviews about the historical accuracy of this war movie or that war movie, and I get it. It is totally fair to evaluate a war movie based on how historically accurate it is. The thing is, I actually can enjoy a film that is sorta, kinda based on reality but not really that accurate.
Case in point, the 1965 classic, Battle of the Bulge. It is sorta, kinda based on history. Yes, it was in the Ardennes. Yes, it was a German offensive. Yes, the Germans had tanks. Yes, Bastogne was surrounded. Yes, the Germans were faced with fuel issues. Yes, weather issues made flying difficult early in the offensive.
Aaaaaaaaaaand, that’s probably it for historical accuracy. Let’s just say that creative license was taken on just about everything else that made its way into the film.
But you know what? I loved it. Loved the whole movie, I was locked in from beginning to end and I got what they were trying to do in the context of what actually happened. I was entertained, thought Henry Fonda and Robert Shaw were great, etc. As for the rest? Fine with me. It did not detract from me being able to enjoy the movie.
So, this list is not going to be me pounding on this director or that director for not getting history right. I get that a two-hour movie forces a director to make choices and exercise a little creative license. I am willing to grant that … but that does not mean that every war film gets it right. Not even close. So, with that caveat, here we go.
I have said it before, and I will say it again: we can’t be friends if you are going to tell me that Fury should be on any top ten list of the best war films of all time. I have heard the arguments. They are wrong. All of them.
There were some aspects of the movie that I liked. Not a lot, but some. The mismatch of the Sherman and the Tiger tanks, for example, was spot on. No complaints there. And there were a few action scenes that were entertaining, I agree.
The problem with the movie starts here: I never remotely bought Brad Pitt as a WWII tank sergeant. Not once. I have met many a sergeant, including several WWII sergeants, and I see what the film’s director tried to do with Pitt…but I never bought it. Raw and scarred but then occasionally profound in a strangely scholarly kind of way? Nope, didn’t work. I bought Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball. I bought him as Rusty in Ocean’s Eleven. I bought him as a love interest for Jennifer Aniston that did not quite work out. But a WWII sergeant commanding a Sherman tank? Nope, never bought it.
(And speaking of Brad Pitt and war movies … Troy? Seriously? Are we even trying?)
You want to see Brad Pitt in a war movie? Go see War Machine. Brad Pitt’s Glen McMahon was fantastic. Loved it.
But Fury? Nope. Don’t bother. If you like Fury, that does not make you a bad person … it just makes you wrong.
Read the history of how the film was made. I can add nothing to what you will find on whatever internet site you pull up.
3. The Thin Red Line
I am a little conflicted on this one. I really wanted to like The Thin Red Line. The true story of Guadalcanal is a remarkable one. I readily will agree that there were some good acting performances. There are some powerful scenes. A lot of critics loved it. It was nominated for Academy Awards left and right.
So objectively, I guess this was a “good” movie …
…but I just found it weird. Strange. Confusing. Not quite right.
Maybe it was weird and strange, confusing, and not quite right in a way that was artistic. I grant that possibility. That does not mean I thought the movie was worth my time, and I cannot suggest that you spend your time on it either. Because it was weird. And strange. And confusing. And not quite right.
4. Midway (2019), 5. Red Dawn (2012)
Not all movies have to be remade. Not all movies need to be brought current. Not all movies are better with fancier special effects.
I know that some folks don’t like the original Midway. But as I have said before, if you can work Erik Estrada into a war movie and make it believable, that is Oscar-worthy. The first Midway pulled that off. That latter version didn’t.
If you like bells and whistles, watch the remakes and be disappointed. However, if you value your time, watch the originals.
6. Pearl Harbor
Oh, jeez. Forget what I said about people who like Fury because I would watch Fury in a heartbeat if Pearl Harbor was the other option.
Have you ever wondered if it is possible to take not one, not two, but three of the great stories in WWII and screw them all up? It’s possible. This film did it.
The Battle of Britain? Botched it.
Pearl Harbor? Ouch.
The Doolittle Raid? Are you kidding me?
Again, I accept creative license in a movie. Totally do. But we are supposed to be trying, right?
Before you accuse me of the obvious, I am also not against having a love story in a war movie. Casablanca, after all. But does it have to be a really bad love story in a really badly told war story? A woman falls in love with a man, then falls in love with his sorta brother, then can’t decide who she loves, then has a baby with one of them … who dies … so she can marry the other … and they raise the baby as their own … and name the baby after the first guy … and … really?
This is why some people should not drink alcohol.
And while some folks hate Ben Affleck, I am not going to pin this movie’s failings on him. I liked Ben in Argo, for example. Loved him in Good Will Hunting. Same for The Accountant. So this is not a “Ben Affleck was in a movie, so I hate the movie” opinion, I just hate the movie.
If you want a good movie about Pearl Harbor, watch Tora! Tora! Tora!
If you want a good movie about the Doolittle Raid, watch 30 Seconds Over Tokyo.
But skip Pearl Harbor. Or burn it. Either one.
Talking about a great story wasted, what the heck happened with Windtalkers?
The story is almost impossible to screw up. Seriously. During WWII, Native American code talkers were employed by the US Marines in the Pacific theater, creating a code based on the languages of the Navajo, Comanche, Hopi, and Meskwaki peoples. The code was never broken by the Japanese military forces. Amazing story, eh? It is a story of courage, heroism, and incredible importance. With a story this good, it is hard to imagine how any director could screw up this film, even if intentionally trying to do so.
And yet, it was screwed up in this movie.
Now I know your first instinct is to say that I am saying this only because Nicholas Cage is a horrible actor. But you know what? I actually like Cage in a strange kind of way. Raising Arizona? A classic. Guarding Tess? Underrated performance. National Treasure? Assumed he would win an Oscar for it.
Am I going to argue that Nicholas Cage is a brilliant actor? Well, maybe I am not going to go that far. But Nicholas Cage, the brilliant actor that he may or may not be, was not my issue with Windtalkers.
The issue? The movie was just badly done. Really, really badly done. Special effects were emphasized to the detriment of the story. Phony drama was added when the story itself was plenty dramatic. Heroism was elbowed into the movie’s plot at odd places when there was plenty of heroism in the actual, honest-to-goodness, real-life story. None of it made sense.
In fact, none of the movies in this blog post make sense. They are just not good movies. You want war movies worth watching? See this list. But these seven movies? Not so much. I would watch Ishtar over watching any of these movies. I would clean the gutters over watching any of these movies. I would even have a talk with my wife about her feelings over watching any of these movies.
I think I have made my point. Feel free to leave your point of view in the comments.
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