Unlike most women, I love a good war film. If it's got soldiers, marines, or sailors in it, you better believe that I'm going to see it. When I saw the previews for Flags of Our Fathers, I wanted to see it right away. But then came the reviews... No one was loving the story. No one found the film engaging, so I decided to reign in my love for a good war film and wait for video.
I'm so happy I didn't spend $8 to see this in theatres.
Flags of our Fathers plays like a documentary on The History Channel. It was interesting enough that I wanted to watch the whole thing, but it wasn't engaging enough to recommend to all my friends. It was really your run-of-the-mill World War II story. Even though it tells the story of the three surviving men (two marines and one Navy corpsman) who raised the flag in that infamous photograph, I wasn't truly invested in these men. I didn't really care what happened to them during the war or on their war bonds tour, and I know that's not a good way to feel about men who survived WWII.
Of the three main actors, Adam Beach is by far the most engaging. Beach plays Ira's guilt and anger with grace and subtlety. Even when Ira is too drunk to walk properly or when he falls into the arms of a mother, I still didn't see it as an overdone performance. Alas, I'm only giving praise to his performance because everyone else was so lackluster. I know that Ryan Phillipe and Jesse Bradford aren't Academy material, but I still expect serious acting chops when Clint Eastwood is behind the camera.
My biggest complaint was my feeling of disconnection. As with most war films, actors get lost in the mud and smoke and uniforms, but a great war film can still show the humanness of each man even if he looks exactly like the man next to him. There were only a few moments in the whole movie that brought tears to my eyes, and I think you'd have to dead inside to not get a knot in your throat when a surviving marine meets the mother of one of his fallen buddies. Other than that, though, I was just waiting for to find out how these men lived out their days so I could watch the new episode of "Law & Order." Harsh, I know, but I don't want to beat around the bush.
I have yet to see Letters from Iwo Jima, but I hear it's a more engaging--both emotionally and visually--film. I sure do hope so because it's still in theatres.
I think I can give Flags a solid three stars. I liked it, but I definitely didn't love it. It's not a complete waste of my time, but I do wish it had been a little more interesting.