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Thread: Which is in the ten worst war films ever made?

  1. #16
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    Default Re: Which is in the ten worst war films ever made?

    Another nomination - "Gods and Generals", the American Civil War movie/mini-biopic based on Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. I say "mini-biopic" not because it is at all short, but because it focuses on a short period of Jackson's life - from the start of the Civil War to his death.

    This movie is a sort of prequel to the lengthy (4.5 hours) but largely excellent "Gettysburg" (1993), which presented a credible picture of the circumstances of that battle, and battle scenes that were credibly staged, even on a technical basis, and also includes effective psychological drama between the participants. "Gods and Generals" (2003) matches "Gettysburg" in length (4 hours standard release; 5 hours extended cut) and does have some of the same virtues, including well-realized battle scenes. No problem with that. Worth mentioning that the movie was viewed predominantly from the Confederate viewpoint. No problem from my point of view, although it was as a result criticized for the views expressed on slavery. The PC critics might have borne in mind that a movie realized from a Confederate point of view necessarily contained views on the subject that were, well, less than PC.

    My main problem with the movie at least as a war movie is that a very large part of it is taken up with showing the contrast between Jackson's home life and his approach to warfare and battle. Nothing wrong with this in itself. However, the "home" elements of this film are, well, lengthy, and are scripted and directed in a heavy, moralistic style. The unfortunate consequence is that the portrayal of the contrast is slow, heavy and infected with 19th century moralism that inclines the viewer to switch off or fall asleep at various points. Also, the admirable devotion to military authenticity can overflow into grating "researchism" - as when a visitor speaks to the dying Jackson about how they can be reasonably sure that he was killed by "friendly fire" because his wound was made by a smoothbore musket ball rather than a Union "miniť ball from a rifle. Jackson, apparently, is supposed to be consoled by this. I do not know whether Jackson was killed by a smoothbore musket or by a muzzle-loading rifle. However, while most Union troops were armed with Springfield-pattern "Miniť" rifles by the time in question, and a higher proportion of Confederates were armed with smoothbores, Union second-line troops still used smoothbores. So - the reference in question is both superfluous and inconclusive. Call me a pedant, but ...

    In the end, I suppose, I suppose I get back to the idea that a successful war movie should be entertaining as well as (if possible) "worthy". "Gods and Generals" has good parts, but is severely weighed down with "worthiness". A pity. The resultant box office failure of the movie seems to have derailed the possibility of a third movie in the projected trilogy, which might have been interesting. Yours from Cemetery Ridge, JR.
    Last edited by JR*; 07-07-2016 at 06:48 AM.

  2. #17
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    Default Re: Which is in the ten worst war films ever made?

    That's the one JR, It was made by Sergio Leone who made all of Clint Eastwoods older westerns . I wondered why they changed the Title of it. As you say, it was spoof like in its plot. There was a separate series of western type movies featuring the "Trinity Brothers" which while not being associated with any war, was just about as spoofish as Duck You Sucker. (don't hang around under any Bridges)

  3. #18
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    Default Re: Which is in the ten worst war films ever made?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    ...
    As to the category of really bad war movies, I would nominate "The Patriot", an American War of Independence black-powder bloodfest, starring Mel Gibson as 18th century Mel Gibson and a large cast of stereotypical cardboard characters. The plot is totally adrift, not attached to any definite feature or incident of the American War of Independence (except at the very end); the characterization is generally flimsy; most of the acting is pretty perfunctory in a high melodramatic style. Even military details grate. For example, in the climactic battle between the American patriots and the dastardly Brits, Mel's militiamen appear capable of firing repeated devastating volleys from their muzzle-loaders from a prone position, without ever rising to their feet or even to their knees. Did anybody ask themselves, how did they manage to reload ? Also, the Brit cardboard cut-outs have a strange tendency to stand around and allow themselves to be slaughtered, rather than adopting the historically proven expedient of 18th century soldiers, once defeated (or even prior to defeat) of running away. I could go on ...

    Indeed I could. This movie may be faintly enjoyable on the level of a shootem' up video game (at times at least) but, overall, it is deeply flawed both as a war movie and as a movie entering the space of serious history. Yours from Bunker Hill (or is it Benny Hill ?), JR.
    It is a pretty bad film that is sort of fun to watch in the vein of "Heartbreak Ridge". I think I could sense that Mel Gibson becoming increasingly erratic in his onscreen persona. The history is complete bonk and while the American Revolution could be a rather bitter affair that was almost a civil war between Loyalists and Patriots, the barn burning seen casting the British and their Tory militia as Nazis is over the top and I don't think anything remotely like that ever happened. A close approximation to real life cavalryman Lord Banastre Tarleton is apply played by British actor Jason Isaacs, but again, a bit overly ruthless although the real life Tarleton was known to kill prisoners. The Battle of the Cowpens is also inaccurately depicted as a caricature...
    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 07-08-2016 at 05:03 PM.

  4. #19
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    Default Re: Which is in the ten worst war films ever made?

    One other film I would add to this stew of bad Cinema is Wild Geese. though not about either world War, it deals with the small wars in Africa. (In my youth, after being discharged from the U.S. military, I was encouraged by unsavory sorts to sign up for "Ranch Security" in Rhodesia which I declined) Despite the stars being men of note, Richard Burton, Roger Moore, Richard Harris (among others) it survives mostly on the firefights, and Harris' Character's somewhat comedic troubles with the local Organized Crime in England. Worth a look at if you've not seen it before, and don't have anything better to do.

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