Movie review: Hacksaw Ridge

Movie reviews

Hello!

Before the year ends, I’m desperately trying to see all the movies I’ve missed and all the films that might make my top 10 list. Well, I just came back from the cinema where I saw a strong contender for it – Hacksaw Ridge.

IMDb summary: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

Writing

TV writer Andrew Knight and playwright Robert Schenkkan wrote Hacksaw Ridge’s script and did a very good job. They managed to tell a very personal story in the context of a huge global event – WWII – and have given a unique perspective on it. This film, similarly to The Birth of a Nation, was not only a war drama but a religious picture too. The power of belief and religious dogmas were contrasted to the horrors of war. The writing for the main character was really good and extensive: his upbringing and personal background really helped the viewers to sympathize and even identify with him. I especially liked the contrast between his quite violent childhood and the feeling of innocence that he maintained in his adult years before the war (the sweet flirting scenes showcased that the best). These varying scenes made him into a fully rounded character and set up his character journey neatly. The truly heartbreaking and inspiring part of his story was the fact that he managed to keep his goodness when faced with the evilest thing in the universe – war.

The most compelling part of the film, to me personally, was the second act. I found it really interesting to see how this man struggled to even get to war. The court speech was one of my favorite pieces of dialogue (the other one being the line from the 3rd act ‘Help me get one more’). The debate on whether rules or beliefs are more important was interesting too.

When watching this movie’s narrative unfold on the big screen, a couple of questions popped into my mind. The first one revolved around bullying in the army – we all know that that happens in real life and we all have seen the countless movie scenes with the Sergeant shouting at the Privates. This type of a scene has become a cliche in both the reality and in cinema. The question that bothers me is why? Why is bullying in the army seen as accepted and normal rite of passage? The second, more general movie question, has to do with war dramas. Every year, at least one WWII or WWI film reaches theaters and they all usually do pretty well, both financially and critically. I’d like to know when are we going to run our of real (and fictional) war stories to tell? When is humanity’s fascination with world wars is going to end? Maybe if one starts in real life, there won’t be any need to look for this kind of horrific violence in the cinema.

Directing

After a 10 year hiatus, Mel Gibson (Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ) came back to directing and did a magnificent job with Hacksaw Ridge. I loved how he realized all the different parts of the story (upbringing, training, and war) and how he paced them: the movie was quite slow and long but I didn’t feel like it dragged unnecessarily, the balance between drama and action was good. The way the actual war sequences were actualized was just spectacular. They were graphic, violent, and uncomfortable to look at – everything a war scene should look and feel like. From start to finish, Gibson crafted a solid and well-constructed motion picture, which was cleverly completed with the inclusion of the real life counterparts of the film’s characters. I always appreciate these real world tie-ins in the biographical dramas.

One last note before I move on to acting – I would really like to praise the sound designers of this film – their aural effects accompanied the striking visuals of war and really made an impact, this time around. The first few bomb explosions in the first few scenes of the war action really startled me – they were extremely effective.

Acting

  • Andrew Garfield played the lead and did an absolutely spectacular job. After he was replaced as Spiderman, Garfield has really turned his career around and focused more on serious and indie films rather than blockbusters. He started and produced 99 homes and was also in Scorcese’s Silence (which was yet to be released widely).
  • The supporting cast of the film featured so many familiar faces: Vince Vaughn (True Detective Season 2), Sam Worthington (Avatar, Everest), Luke Bracey (Point Break), Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, LOTR, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas), Rachel Griffiths (Saving Mr. Banks), Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge!)Teresa Palmer (Point Break, Triple 9) and Nathaniel Buzolic (The Vampire Diaries, The Originals) had roles of varying sizes. All of them delivered great and realistic performances. One aspect in which the film lacked realism was the physical look of its soldier characters – the majority of them looked like male models rather than soldiers, but, this is Hollywood, so I should not have been that surprised.

To conclude, Hacksaw Ridge was a very strong WWII drama – the best one in recent years – coming close to even the likes of Saving Private Ryan in its levels of quality. This film had a truly amazing and unique narrative at its core, which was nicely brought to life by the main actor – Andrew Garfield –  and the main man behind the camera – Mel Gibson.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Hacksaw Ridge trailer

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Sightseeing: Isle of Skye & Glencoe

Sightseeing

Hello!

I haven’t done any sightseeing post in a while because I haven’t travelled anywhere, except flying between Scotland and Lithuania. However, this past weekend, I channelled my inner tourist and visited the Islands & Highlands of Scotland or Isle of Skye and Glencoe valley, to be precise. So, I’m guessing by this point you know what this post will be about – I will tell you about a few of the many beautiful places of Scotland that I had a chance to visit.

I was travelling around Scotland with my university’s international society, whose sole purpose is to help international and home students to see more of the country and make unforgettable memories. I’m sure that after you read this post, you will be able to recreate the trip to the smallest detail if you wanted.

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This is an approximate map of my trip. The lines definitely do not represent the actual roads that we took, they only show you the order of the trip. Red lines and red dots represented the distance we covered and the objects/places we visited on the 1st day of the trip (Friday), Blue lines and dots – Saturday (2nd day) and the Green dots and lines – Sunday (the last day).

We set off from Aberdeen early in the morning – around 6am. At around 9-10 am we stopped on the outskirts of Inverness to buy some food – especially snacks and a lot of water. Then followed another 1.5h on the bus before we reached our first location for photo opportunities – Loch Carron.

Loch Carron is both the name of the village and the narrow lake in the Highlands – only a short drive from the bridge to the Isle of Skye. We took photos from a few angles but all of them very equally beautiful.

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Then, we went to a few locations on the actual Isle of Skye. First, we drove and walked (around 1 mile through hills and valleys) to the Claigan Coral Beach – the view was absolutely stunning – the sand and corals were pure white – and the water – light and deep blue. The weather was also spectacular – sunny with a few clouds in the sky.

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Next, we drove pass the Dunvegan Castle (sadly, we didn’t have time to visit it) to the south of the isle – the Glen Brittle glen, where we hiked to the Fairy Pools. The view was magnificent, the weather – pleasant (sunny but a bit windy) and the path to walk on – interesting. We had to jump over quite a few streams or use stepping stones to cross them. I wish we would have had time to reach the actual bottom of the mountains, though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing all the waterfalls and pools.

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After visiting the Fairy Pools, we drove back up north to the town of Portree (King’s port). There we spent the night at an independent hostel. The hostel’s building was really cute (light yellow colour) and the actual hostel was clean and comfortable. In the morning, I went around Portree to get some water for a trip, some money from an ATM and I also bough a few postcards. Basically, the town is full of all the necessary shops and the major banks.

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We started our second day of the trip with the hardest challenge of all – a hike to the Old Man of Storr. When we started our hike the sun was still shining, however, the higher we walked, the worse the weather became. By the time I actyally startedclimbing up the mountain, it started to snow and hail. The wind was also crazy. Nonetheles, the extreme hike was worth all the energy, becase the actuall rocks of top of the hill were really cool and the view from the mountain was also nice, In addition, after climing this hight – this was the highest hike I have ever done – I felt a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, for me as a cinephile, it was really nice to be standing in the place where Ridley Scott shot the opening of Prometheus.

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When we climbed down and got back to the bus, the clouds cleared and the sun appeared, so our drive back to the Highlands was pleasant. Although we were all quite cold, since we were soaking wet and frozen after that climb through a hail storm.

At around miday, we reached the Eillean Donan Castle, which is located in the meeting pint of three lochs – Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. It has been destroyed at the begining of the 18th century and rebuilt between 1919 and 1932. Now it is used as a tourist atraction – various collections are on display. The historical kitchen model is also recreated and displayed. The castle also serves as a filming location for movies and TV shows. One of the films that was shot there and that I’ve seen is Highlander. The castle has a big gift shop full of iconic Scottish souvenirs, so I picked up a fridge magnet – the most stereoytipacl souvenir of all.

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After visiting the castle, we drove down south to a very special place to me – the Harry Potter filming location. I have always been a massive fan of both the books and films, so standing in the place where the movies whre shot was surreal. We visited the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which serves as a bridge that leads to Hogwarts. On the other side  of the road from the viaduct, there is a beaituful lake – Loch Shiel or the Black Lake/Great Lake that is near Hogwarts and was mostly shown in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire film, during the 2nd event of the Triwizard torunament.

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By this point, we were all pretty tired, so we just sat silently or napped on the bus on our way to Glencoe, were we stayed at SYHA hostel in the middle of nowhere. The hostel was surrounded my hills and mountains and all sides. The rooms were comfortable, the kitchen and bathrooms – convenient and clean.

On Sunday, we didn’t have any plans as a group, so all of just basically divied into pairs or smaller groups and when for a walk or a bike ride (there was a little vilage near by where you could rent a bike for 10 pounds) around the Glencoe valley. Films like Braveheart, Higlander and even Skyfall where shot around those parts. This valley is also famous for being the location of the real life Red Wedding. The Masscare of Glencoe in 1692 was the event that inspired Goerge R.R. Martin wen writing the Song of Ice and Fire.

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At around 3pm we left Glencoe and headed back to Aberdeen. We made a short stop at Perth for some food (McDonalds) and reached the city of Aberdeen at around 8pm. I was home by 8.30 pm and extremely tired, so I just caught up on the news, took a shower and went to bed.

Although the trip was echausting, I enjoyed it immensely. Rocky mountians and water (oceans, lakes, rivers and seas) are my two favorite things to visit in nature, so this trip was perfect for my taste. I highly suggest that you at least visit the places that I have mentioned if you ever in Scotland. There is so much more to visit, though, and I know that I will defintely be going back to both the Islands and Higlands of Scotland. They are quite hard to reach via the public transport, so I would suggest for you to either rent a bus and find a group of friends or just get a car and go solo. This trip would also requre you to be able to walk or hike quite a lot, so remeber to wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring lots of fluids.

What was the last place that you have travelled? Have you ever been to Scotland or are you plan on visiting it ? Bye!