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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Movie review: Jupiter Ascending 

Movie reviews

Hi!

So, I’ve recently watched Jupiter Ascending –  a new movie by The Wachowskis siblings and this is going to be my review.

IMDb summary: In a bright and colorful future, a young destitute caretaker gets targeted by the ruthless son of a powerful family, who lives on a planet in need of a new heir, so she travels with a genetically engineered warrior to the planet in order to stop his tyrant reign.

First of all, I am the fan of The Wachowskis. To my mind, The Matrix is a masterpiece but, more importantly, their another movie – Cloud Atlas – is my favorite film ever. There hasn’t been another movie which made me think that hard and analyze every little detail. It’s actually the motion picture that got me interested in movie reviewing in the first place. Having said that, I didn’t particularly like this movie and I desperately wanted to like it just because it was getting such bad reviews…Mine isn’t going to be better..

To begin with, let’s start with the things I liked: setting, visuals and acting.

Setting

The setting and the whole world of the movie reminded me of one of the worlds from the Cloud Atlas (Cloud Atlas is set in 6 different time periods). Jupiter Ascending resembled the futuristic Neo Seoul, 2144 world from that film. Although, it had a more of a cosmic vibe.

Visuals

The Wachowskis always had astonishing visuals and this movie was no exception. The landscapes were breathing and the action sequences exciting and fun even if they were a little bit unbelievable and too long in some parts.

Acting

I believe that all of the actors did a great job. Mila Kunis was great: I love her as an actress both in comedy (Friends with Benefits) and drama (Black Swan). 

Channing Tatum was also good in his role as a human/wolf/angel..However, I had no idea why he got those wings in the end…

Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton were also functional in their roles. I have never heard anything about this actress but I know a lot about Douglas and have practically watched all of his movies.

Sean Bean as another human/wolf/angel was also good. Though, as a GoT fan and someone who spends a lot of time on the Internet, I couldn’t stop thinking if he was going to die at some point. 

Eddie Redmayne was the only questionable character in the story. Why did he speak like that? His voice only detracted my attention from the film. BTW, I was really happy when he won an Oscar because I loved him in The Theory of Everything and I even believe that he should have been nominated in 2012 for Les Miserables. But he won now, so there is no reason to be sad about past snubs.

One last note: the movie had a lot of other small characters because The Wachowskis love to have a lot of character (just watch Cloud Atlas). I was happy to see James D’Arcy, who started in Cloud Atlas and recently been in Agent Carter, in the movie too – he made make a short  cameo.

Now, let’s move on to the bad stuff…

Story

The story of the movie was interesting, don’t get me wrong, but it was just way too complicated. The mythology was so rich  and they went into details so much but they never fully explained anything. As a result, you could hardly follow the plot and you weren’t interested in the movie or the faith of the characters. They also did a crap job of setting up a loving relationship between Mila’s character’s family and Mila’s character – I had no idea why she wanted to save them because they have been complete a****les to her.

In addition, that love story was a complete push… They have know each other for 2 days and they have fallen completely in love? I do not believe that at all. But, that’s a movie love, I guess?

Jokes were also kinda mehh: “I love dogs” and that period pad…Really? Only She’s a man with Amanda Bynes knows how to make period jokes.

Themes

Though the story was difficult to comprehend and follow, I have found a couple of themes between the lines, which interested me. First one is time: I loved the quote “Time is the single most precious commodity in the universe“. This saying is so true and so relevant to our modern society. Other themes were capitalism and never stopping consumerism – also great reminders of the contemporary world. The last idea, which sparked my interested, was that our genes have our souls inside them…I love when movies explain religious facts as science facts. Maybe because my favorite movie genre is sci-fi, followed closely by comic book/superhero movies…

All in all, the movie was watchable but not remember-able. I would only recommend it to hard core sci-fi fans and the niche fans of The Wachowskis. 

Trailer: Jupiter Ascending trailer

Rate: 3/5

lkl1ydfPhotos: trailer screenshots