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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.41%
Worth A Look46.34%
Average: 24.39%
Pretty Bad: 12.2%
Total Crap: 3.66%

9 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Flags of Our Fathers
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by U.J. Lessing

"Heavy Handed Melodrama Replaced Three Dimensional Quality"
3 stars

The best moments of “Flags of Our Fathers,” Clint Eastwood’s latest entry in the World War II genre, come when we see the island of Iwo Jima at night. Flares light up the barren, bombed landscape. The pops of gunfire and cries of soldiers create a disturbing rhythm. Japanese soldiers materialize out of the dark like specters and attack. In these scenes American soldiers are alone, separated from their friends by the darkness and the foreign landscape. These scenes are grim and frightening. They’re also somewhat unreal. These moments remind us of Eastwood’s power to create mythic ambiance. There is no better director when it comes to subtle atmospheric films, so why Eastwood chose to direct this obvious and simple retelling of James Bradley’s book is beyond me. His talents quickly become buried under the heavy-handed pathos of the story.

The film achronologically tells the true story of three of the soldiers who were photographed raising the US flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. The famous picture gave people back home hope and pride in the American spirit and became a driving image that helped sell war bonds.

According to the film, the three men had very little in common apart from the war. Actor Ryan Phillippe plays Doc Bradley, a dedicated and noble navy corpsman. Jesse Bradford is Rene Gagnon, a simple and somewhat incompetent soldier who was assigned as runner during the battle. Gagnon attempts to capitalize on his celebrity status. Adam Beach plays Ira Hayes, a Native American marine whose war experiences have left him devastated and resistant to being portrayed as a hero.

After these men took part in one of the most violent and gruesome battles against the Japanese, they were shipped back to the United States as heroes. We watch as they struggle to reconcile the horrors of war with their newfound celebrity status and the adoration of the American people.

The film’s biggest problem is that the lead characters are fairly two-dimensional. The actors try like crazy to flesh out these characters, but the screenplay will have none of it. All of the “back home” scenes play with a false sense of importance. The music swells, crowds surge, politicians bark insincere rhetoric. The three men gaze at inanimate objects with longing and sadness before the film plunges us back into war scenes.

We patiently wait for these sentimental moments to end so we can return to the stunning battle sequences. It’s particularly impressive to witness the recreation of the war machine. Rows of battleship race toward the island. Hellcats blaze through the air. It’s ironic that, in this day and age, filmmakers can be so technically accurate when it comes to recreating the past yet so poor at creating multifaceted characters.

“Flags of Our Fathers” pretends to tell us who these soldiers really were. Writers William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis believe that they are contrasting the men’s lives with their heroic image. Sadly, what they present to the viewer is yet another fabricated image, and one that is equally false.

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originally posted: 01/14/07 09:48:10
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
9/21/17 Anne while the film is playing I'm reading reviews of it... 1 stars
5/25/12 Ed Totleben Jr Great adaptation of the book 4 stars
5/24/10 herb kearns very realistic, I was there 5 stars
9/28/07 mr.mike not bad 3 stars
6/10/07 Bob OMG - This is the worst offering by Eastwood EVER! Utterly unwatchable. 1 stars
5/30/07 Piz I expected better, clumsy and empty for stretches at a time. Not bad, but not a must-have. 3 stars
5/29/07 action movie fan very realistic combat scenes but little else-story is pretentious and dull 3 stars
5/21/07 Sam Bonner Becomes unfocused when it leaves the battlefield. Good but should have been better. 3 stars
4/27/07 Bart lacks any kind off subtility. Haggis should stop ruining scripts. 2 stars
4/19/07 AJ Muller Eastwood nails another winner. Worthy heroes + questionable politicking = shades of grey. 4 stars
3/25/07 Eric R. Has Eastwood lost his mind? This is lamer than Blood Work. An unbelievable disappointment. 2 stars
3/12/07 megan excellent movie 5 stars
2/19/07 neznamo War is tragic and heroes are not always heroic 4 stars
2/08/07 UGB Too long disappointed after the hype it received 2 stars
11/23/06 Tiffany Losco Good movie, but probably wouldn't watch it agian. 4 stars
11/20/06 michael good story 2 see 4 stars
11/14/06 Merle Adam beach and Barry Pepper were great, but the movie was flat. 3 stars
11/06/06 Bert Kaplan a 5 stars
11/06/06 Bobbi Good nostalgia piece but story needs to be clearer 4 stars
10/29/06 Quigley probably the most moving film to hit the theaters this year. reminds me of the real heroes 5 stars
10/24/06 michael had its moments but wait for the DVD 4 stars
10/24/06 Steve b Hollywood propaganda Fails badly 2 stars
10/23/06 Taylor Fladgate I was hoping for more. Uneven, and who is dictating the dams story? 3 stars
10/23/06 cd beats gay magic movie 5 stars
10/22/06 Al Iwo was sacred ground. Clint urinated all over it. Bad movie. 1 stars
10/22/06 Mark ho hum war film 3 stars
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  20-Oct-2006 (R)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2007



Directed by
  Clint Eastwood

Written by
  Paul Haggis

  Ryan Phillippe
  Jesse Bradford
  Adam Beach
  Paul Walker
  Jamie Bell
  Barry Pepper

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