Monday, November 06, 2006

Flags of Our Fathers

Rating: B-

I was discussing Iwo Jima with some friends of mine, and after finishing, I realized that a lot of people do not know the story of what really happened on Iwo Jima. Most folks think that the Marines raised the flag on some mountain after the US forces had taken Iwo Jima and that they returned as heros to America. Clint Eastwood addresses these and other myths in his latest, "Flag of Our Fathers".

This movie centers around the photograph of the famous flag raisers that won Joe Rosenthal the Pulitzer Prize and spurred America's resolve to win WWII. The facts of the case are that the flag in the photo was actually the second flag raised, there were 30 more days of intense fighting before Iwo Jima was secured after the Mount Sarabachi was taken, and that 3 of the 6 flag raisers died on Iwo Jima in that fighting. The movie is the story of the 3 surviving soldiers and how their lives were changed and used after being in the right place at the right time.

The main thing about this movie is how it is edited. It tends to jump around from one time to another. One moment, it's in the beginning of the battle, suddenly you're a few days earlier, then months after back home, then mid way through the battle, then here, then there. It makes it a little hard to figure out who is who behind the helmets and grimey faces. It also serves to soften the battle scenes a bit as opposed to Saving Private Ryan, where the initial 15 minutes pound you into submission. The special effects are amazing, but in this day and age, it's almost not worth mentioning because great special effects are expected. Looking later at actual pictures of the day, Eastwood got it spot on.

When our heros make it back to the States, they are shuffled around from town to town to raise money for the war effort. While one loves the spotlight (Rene Gagnon, played by Jesse Bradford), the other two (John "Doc" Bradley - Ryan Phillippe and Ira Hayes - Adam Beach) are less than excited. Hayes especially feels guilty that he survived and the "real" heros are the ones that died on Iwo Jima. Watching his life spiral down the road of alcohol and guilt is heart wrenching to watch. Other that Hayes, most of the other characters blend into the background and don't strike a chord with anyone. There are a few surprise appearances such as Paul Walker, Terminator 2's Robert Patrick, and the guy who played Sulley in Commando as President Truman.

Flags of Our Fathers is a story that needed to be told and is done justice by Eastwood's storytelling. It's just not a great as I expected from Clint. Not as great as say, Million Dollar Baby. It's a fine movie that stands above most of what's at the box office, but I know Eastwood can do better.


Post a Comment

<< Home