May 2005


Tears of the Sun
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua.
Written by: Alex Lasker (written by), Patrick Cirillo (written by).
Actors: Bruce Willis, Monica Bellucci, Tom Skerritt.
Released: 2003.
MPAA Rating: R.
Length: 121 min.
“War”, Drama.

Brief outline (all spoilers):
Lieutenant A.K. Waters (Willis) and his elite squadron of tactical specialists are sent on a rescue mission for Dr. Lena Kendricks (Bellucci), an American citizen by marriage. The democratic government of Nigeria has collapsed and the country is taken over by a ruthless military dictator. Dr. Kendricks refuses to leave the refugees she is caring for; and Lt. Waters is persuaded to take them along. The one rescue helicopter does not have the capacity to take all the refugees, and the refugees were never a planned to be rescued. Dr. Kendricks refuses to be rescued and leave the refugees to the faith of the government militia. Lt. Waters have to choose between following military orders or his feelings, and finally gets persuaded by the beautiful Dr Kendricks to escort the refugees to the border with the risk of their own lives. Can they possibly make it?

Good
Bruce Willis is always fun to watch. It is has some stunning scenes from the rain forest. The music is by the brilliant Hans Zimmer that has made music for a lot of other big hit movies like Black Hawk Down, The Last Samurai, King Arthur and The Thin Red Line.

Bad
This movie does not have the depth and passion that makes you get involved in the movie. It can not carry itself to the heights of the classic war movies. It may be very dramatic that a cold soldier have to suddenly has to make a decision with his hart and become a warm human, instead of being the “order following war machine” he is trained to be. It would for sure end his military career.

Bottom Line
It is ok to watch, but it is not a classic war movie.
Rating: 5/10 (where 10 is the best).

Full Metal Jacket
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick.
Written by: Gustav Hasford (novel), Stanley Kubrick (screenplay), Michael Herr (screenplay).
Actors: Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, R Lee Ermey, Ed O’Ross, Arliss Howard.
Released: 1987.
MPAA Rating: R.
Length: 116 min.
War.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
In the movie we follow Joker (Modine) as a USMC soldier. The movie consist of two parts the training and the deployment in Vietnam. During training we get to see how Gunnery Sergeant Hartman (Ermey) drills them to become first class soldiers and killers. The second part begins in Vietnam, near Hue, at the time of the Tet Offensive.

Personal opinions
This is an excellent war movie. This movie comes out as very believable on how war probably is for a soldier. It does not try to make any elaborate filmatic schemes to glorify the fighting, but gives you as is; very cynical, brutal and uncivilized. It does not have any obvious political agenda to critique the Vietnam War or the reasons for the war. It is not a pro-war movie, even a lot of metal heads like this movie for the raw violence. It critic the war in the only way a movie can do, to portray the raw reality and that should be enough for the viewer to feel disgust against war.

Good
The movie is action packed and you never get bored. The movie also has a good share of dark humor when the Drill Sergeant Hartman gives the rotten soldiers a mouthful on the training. Hartman is really entertaining with all the name calling and rough talking. It also has a great share of uncensored war reality and shocking reality.

Bad
Some other people have complained about the acting, but it is not obvious.

Other
There are obvious parallels between Full Metal Jacket and Clockwork Orange. They deals with the transformation of men and craziness of the world. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket has a parallel character in the Jail officer (Michael Bates). Joker (Modine) in Full Metal Jacket and Alexander ‘Alex’ de Large (Malcolm McDowell) in Clockwork Orange undergoes a transformation by a government institution in a ratter though way.

Bottom Line
This movie is really violent and unpleasant to watch, but it is a genuine war movie. It is one of the very best war movies.
Rating: 8/10 (where 10 is the best).

Apocalypse Now Redux
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola.
Written by: John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola, based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Actors: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, Albert Hall, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, G.D. Spradlin.
“Released”: 2001.
MPAA Rating: R.
Length: 202 min.
War.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
Captain Benjamin Willard (Sheen) is an army officer who gets assigned a special mission. This mission involves crossing over into Cambodia, locate Colonel Kurtz (Brando) and then terminate him. Colonel Kurtz is a highly decorated officer, but he has gotten on the wrong side of the army by starting to conduct military operations without his superior’s approval. This loss of control of one of their high ranking officers is an embarrassment for the Army and he must be eliminated. In the movie we get to follow Capt. Willard on the mission up the river to Cambodia in a patrol boat. On the way up this river we get to experience insanity of the war and the people fighting in it.

Personal opinions
This (Redux) is a re-cut of the original Apocalypse Now epic war movie from Coppola. Coppola had his fair amount of things to deal with, first he had to fire Harvey Keitel who was playing Capt. Willard after less than two week, then the budget and time got out of control. The movie was budgeted to $10 million dollars, but ended up costing $30 million dollars.

(Possible spoiler)
The redux version includes two scenes that Coppola originally left out, the stranded Playboy models and the French colony. The Playboy scene is OK; it shows the lust for women in young men that have been only next to other men for a long time. The colonist scene is not so great, it is weird. You get out of the war rhythm, first you get the feeling of the men being in this hellish jungle war, and then suddenly they are sort of in the civilization again. Eating good food and being inside a house.

The movie most of all is a soul searching movie. It is about what is considered sane and insane combined with being in an insane war situation. (Possible spoiler) For example it is considered sane to when Killgore orders people to surf the waves while they are ordering aircrafts to strike the tree lines with Napalm. On the other side it is insane to setup military operations and kill the enemy inside the jungle without permission.

Good
The movie gives a more unbiased story of the Vietnam War. It is not a political statement in any direction and it is one of the most influential movies about the Vietnam War. It is more of insanity of men. The movie has a sort of voyage feeling of it, like the 2001: A Space Odyssey, sort of a war road movie.

Bad
Making a movie that is 202 min is a bit insane in itself. It is very long, you almost have to set aside a day to see it. The extra scenes in the Redux version contribute to this, and at least the Colonist scenes do not justify the extra time.

Bottom Line
It is not a typically shooter war movie, but it gives a good look into the insanity, madness and horrors of war.
Rating: 7/10 (where 10 is the best).

Saving Private Ryan
Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
Written by: Robert Rodat .
Actors: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel.
Released: 1999.
MPAA Rating: R.
Length: 170 min.
War.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
During WW2 the Army becomes aware that a mother of four sons will receive the death letters for her sons. It is decided that her last son alive shall be relieved of duty and sent home to his mother. We get to follow Capt. John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his team while they try to locate Private Ryan and escort him home.

Personal opinions
This movie is one of the more watchable movies from Steven Spielberg.

Good
The movie gives a very brutal and action packed portrait of the War. The fighting scenes are very breath taking and disturbing. The movie manages to give an emotional portrayal of the camaraderie that bonds soldiers in war together.

Bad
This movie is very critically acclaimed, but a thought in your head during all of the movie is that if the story is plausible. Even if it would be tragic for a mother to have all her sons killed, I do not know of any such policy to have soldiers withdrawn from the war and this was in WW2. It could possible be plausible that it could happen today, but this movie partials the 1940’s. In World War 2 the regard for the soldier’s life was much less prioritized and large causalities on civilians and military was expected in war. It was a different time and war was fought differently than today.

(Possible spoil)
The movie also idealizes the soldiers as heroes. A lot of soldiers get killed in the movie, but most of the main characters in the rescue team miraculously survives until the end, and then dies in a very heroic death. In the end this miraculous team is very low supplies of ammo, but still manages to single handed take out a company well equipped German company of 60 soldiers and two tanks. There is no limits what they can do, a lot of our hero friends die in the end, but that is only after they have been shot a couple of times.

Bottom Line
The movie gives value for you money when it comes to war action, but it has some shortcomings when it comes to the story.
Rating: 6/10 (where 10 is the best).

Malèna
Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore .
Written by: Giuseppe Tornatore, Luciano Vincenzoni (story) .
Actors: Monica Bellucci, Daniele Arena, Giovanni Litrico.
Released: 2000.
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, nudity, language and some violence.
Length: 105 min.
Romance.

Received two 2001 Oscar nominations, including Best Cinematography. The movie also received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
The movie sets in small Sicilian coastal town in the beginning of World War 2 when Mussolini’s declaration of war against England and France. Malèna (Monica Bellucci) is the wife of a soldier missing in action. She is the most beautiful woman in town, and all the men are having lustful thoughts about her. When she is walking the streets all the men stares and turns their head. She is topic on everybody’s lips and gossips flows about her and what she does. The story is about a 13 years old boy that also has a crush on Malèna.

Personal opinions
Malèna is obviously cursed by her beauty, and it causes a lot of problem for her to deal with that. She is probably aware that she is a beautiful woman, but she just have to try to ignore the people as best as she can. The boy sees himself as the protector of Malèna against all the gossip and unjust.

Good
The movie has a bit of flow and it develops in parallel with the developments of the war. It has an interesting ending. The background of Sicily makes it esthetically beautiful to watch. You get to see plenty of the beautiful body of Monica Bellucci.

Bad
The nudity is the biggest selling point of this movie. Cut those scenes away and nobody would have noticed this movie. There is also a lot of scenes of a Malèna walking around. We get that everybody looks at her, but it gets underlined to the obvious. And all of those shots of her (great) ass and (great) body the audience is forced into the role of a peeper, just like everybody in the town that are portraied as bad people.

Bottom Line
This is a movie for perverts about a pervert. The most thing that pull up are those explicit scenes with Bellucci.
Rating: 5/10 (where 10 is the best).

Natural Born Killers
Directed by: Oliver Stone.
Written by: Quentin Tarantino (story), David Veloz (screenplay), Richard Rutowski (screenplay) , Oliver Stone (screenplay).
Actors: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Sizemore, Tommy Lee Jones.
Released: 1994.
MPAA Rating: Rated R.
Length: 119 min .
Action .

Brief outline (no spoilers):
Mickey Knox (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory Wilson (Juliette Lewis) are two crazy teens who run away and start on a trail of murder and mayhem. They travel across America on route 666 and kill for fun. They soon get famous in the media and always leave one victim alive to tell the story. Their story is glorified by the unscrupulous reporter Wayne Gale (Robert Downy jr.) while the sadistic cop Jack Scagnetti (Tom Sizemore) tries to catch them.

Personal opinions
The movie is really a critique of the media, and the double moral shown. First they seem to be shocked and oppose violent events and in the next moment the media feeds on the event and without such events the media could not exist.

The script was originally written by Quentin Tarrantino, but Tarrantino has made complaints about the final outcome of this movie. He was not happy with Oliver Stone making substantial changes to it.

Good
The movie is esthetically beautiful in a crazy sort of way. The movie is filmed in a variety of formats, from 16mm, black and white, surveillance camera, handheld camera to regular movie film. It also uses a lot of strange colors like pure green or red. It also uses a lot of archived movie clips from various sources. This creates a very chaotic and may be seen as confusing. This is done intentionally to underline the chaos and cut & paste culture portrayed in the movie. If you do not see this, the movie may be confusing. It most certainly is not a standard movie that follows the rigid Hollywood recipe for how a movie should be. You leave the movie with a feeling of unrest.

Aside from all the talk about what the movie is “really about�? it has a lot of crazy action, and mayhem. And it builds up around a spectacular ending.

Tommy Lee Jones plays a funny character and it brings some humor to it, and the movie needs it.

Bad
This is not Stone’s best movie and it is not the worst. The violence is a part of the life for the people in the movie. All the violence makes it difficult for a lot of people to accept it, since it is argued that it is a speculative movie that wants to sell the violence. And that is part of what the movie critiques.

You do not get really close on any of the characters or sympathy for any of them; you sort of get the view from outside on all the characters. Again this could be how it is in the “media-lized�? world, where you get to know everybody from their TV appearance.

Bottom Line
Young people will like it for the violence, old people will be shocked.
Rating: 7/10 (where 10 is the best).

The Passion of the Christ
Directed by: Mel Gibson.
Written by: Benedict Fitzgerald (screenplay), Mel Gibson (screenplay).
Actors: James Caviezel, Maia Morgenstern, Hristo Jivkov, Francesco De Vito, Monica Bellucci.
Released: 2004.
MPAA Rating: Rated R.
Length: 127 min .
Drama.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
The movie deals with the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life before the crucifixion.

Personal opinions
This is the most realistic and accurate version of this momentous event. The film is faithful to and based primarily on the four Gospels. Mel Gibson has shown incredible bravery undertaking this project, and the result is very credible. Mel Gibson allegedly financed a big part of the movie himself with around 25-30 million dollars to see that he had the full artistic freedom. Making such movie about a very controversial topic takes a lot of bravery. Religion is not a topic that is easily goes without debate, and it has been debated that this movie builds up around anti-Semitism.

The language spoken in the movie is Armanic. The realness the movie gets from the language far supersedes the drawbacks of this. Of course the American speaking audience that is not accustomed to watching movies in other languages than their native would complain. There is not that much dialog that this becomes a problem and also with a little imagination everybody understands what is said even without reading the subtitles.

Good
The movie gives a very literal and graphics portrayal of the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life. Nothing is put between in the making of the movie to have the story more adjusted for the movie screen or in such a way that it would be more appealing. If the movie had been made in any other way it would not have been believable and not have become such a great success. The movie is also very emotional.

Bad
-

Bottom Line
Everybody (except children) should see this movie, even if you are not a Christian.
Rating: 9/10 (where 10 is the best).

Heat
Directed by: Michael Mann.
Actors: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Natalie Portman.
Released: 1995.
MPAA Rating: R.
Length: 171 min .
Drama, Action.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
Neil McCauley (De Niro) is a criminal; his life philosophy is to never get attached to anything or anybody you can not walk away from if you spot the Heat coming at you. McCauley leads a crew of high-tech robbers, and they plot to a couple of huge scores. On the other side of the law there is Detective Vincent Hanna (Pacino) that leads the investigations and tries to catch McCauley and his crew.

Personal opinions
Both Pacino and De Niro have the strength to carry a movie on their own. Now you get both in one movie, and playing against each other. There are parallels between the two characters McCauley and Hanna. They are both very obsessed with their work. McCauley does intentionally sacrifice the idea of a family life because he has realized that it will never work. Hanna on the other side is trying to juggle both family life and work. He manages this without any particular luck since he is currently on the end of his third marriage.

Good
First the cast of this movie is really spectacular. The movie features a lot of big hitters. The movie is a drama movie about the various problems the characters are having, but aside from the traditional boring drama movies, this movie offers a lot of exciting action. The bank robbery scene is a masterpiece-like orgy in guns and shooting.

Bad
You may get put off by the long running time. There is a lot of redundant scenes and things happening that probably is not essential to the plot. For example everything that happens to Hanna’s girlfriend’s daughter (Natalie Portman), and the murder of the prostitute. But it is probably there to build up around the characters and environment their in. When the movie starts to float out like that it should be considered if it is really essential to have it in.

Bottom Line
It is a truly good movie; a crime masterpiece with some of the big hitters of Hollywood.
Rating: 8/10 (where 10 is the best).

Tango & Cash
Directed by: Andrei Konchalovsky, Albert Magnoli
Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Teri Hatcher.
Released: 1989.
Studio: Warner Studios.
MPAA Rating: R.
Length: 98 min .
Action.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
Ray Tango (Sylvester Stallone) and Gabe Cash (Kurt Russell) are two rival LA cops. They are both very caught up in their own fame. They both have huge egos and think that they are the best cop in LA. Their crime fighting skills do not go well with the organized crime lords in the city. The crime lords plot a scheme where they both will get arrested and sent to jail. In jail waits a lot of people that Tango and Cash have previously have arrested.

Personal opinions
The movie is the type of movie that has a lot of shooting, and when the shooting stops it is just light funny conversation. An example of what is funny is when Gabe has to dress up as a woman to escape the police control in the club. It does not have any deep thoughts and philosophical questions. Stallone has never been a philosophical actor anyway. It is nothing wrong with that, sometimes you want to see such a movie. It is packed with action and pyrotechnics.

Good
Stallone and Russell do a great job in making this movie watchable. Their contrasting characters, Stallone the refined upper-class cop and Russel the slob cop. Their constant desire to be the best creates a lot of fun, who has the biggest gun, who should make the statement in court and so on.
You get to see a slightly younger Teri Hatcher do that dance performance.

Bad
The script and story of this movie is a bit thin. And it is a bit obvious what is going to develop.

Bottom Line
It is a enjoyable movie and you should see it. It is a movie for those who want to see a fun action comedy and do not care about a intricate story and characters that do a lot of deep thinking.
Rating: 7/10 (where 10 is the best).

The Village
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan.
Actors: Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver.
Released: 2004.
MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Length: 108 min .
Horror.

Brief outline (no spoilers):
We get to meet a people in a little isolated village. They live a simple life, but an enemy lurks outside the borders of the village. The people in the village is psychologically terrorized by this enemy and must do everything they can not to upset it. The people in the village must never cross the borders and they must never show red colors because that will upset the enemy. They have managed to live in peace with this enemy for a long time, but it seems as the peace is about to end. This enemy is some a mystical creatures that live in the forest around them.

Personal opinions:
The movie manages to set a mysterious setting. And you manage to get a bit scared when you see the frightening creatures. The movie has an interesting twist that makes it worth while. Without spoiling the plot it comes to getter in the end. It is an original ending and it this pulls it up. This sets it a part from other Horror movies that end sort of pointless and in a way that is very easy to anticipate.

Good
The movie has a plot that thickens, it is scary from time to time, and it has strong characters that want to do difficult things that require courage for their friends and loved ones.

Bad
Some people may argue that it is not a true horror movie. It is something in between a horror movie and a thriller, a scary thriller. It features the supernatural creatures and things like that.

It is worth the time if not somebody has spoiled the plot to you.
Rating: 6/10 (where 10 is the best).

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