Saving Private Ryan

Movie #1– A war film that doesn’t go for any tricks. Combat scenes are shot like in a documentary, with a shaky handheld camera. When people die, they just die: they don’t fall in a Christ-style position in slow-mo, with a giant fireball in background. Some call it the most realist war film ever, and they’re not totally wrong. The fast-paced 30 minute opening depicting D-Day is intense, and the finale tops it. Spielberg doesn’t try to impress us with magical images; this is the “important” Spielberg from “Schindler’s List”, with his messages to pass (America saved the world’s freedom, life has value, etc…). John William’s score is his worst ever, but at least Spielberg took it out of the combat scenes, which only echo of explosions, gunshots and chaos.

Movie #2– Hey, let’s kick some German ass! You got all these extended war scenes packed with gore, as countless soldiers get killed. Shots are shaky but impressive, as blood shines brightly, on the ground or in water. You got this sniper who’s as good as Clint Eastwood, and there’s the part when Tom Hanks pulls a Schwarzenegger and keeps shooting at the enemy against all odds… And what about Tom Sizemore’s “Desperado”-style unsuccessful Mexican stand-off… Yeah, Spielberg might have restrained a bit from his “Indiana Jones” days, but he still knows how to craft entertaining scenes.

Movie #1– This is a tale of bravery and honor. Tom Hanks gives another interesting performance as a decent Captain who has to lead his men on a weird mission: they have to find James Ryan, the only who’s still alive out of 4 brothers. Hence, the army wanna give the family a break. Hanks’ men can be rude, but they’re good soldiers. The film has them bonding in what some might call a touching way. They all have their little heartfelt anecdote to tell, with half a smile and a tear in the eye. Some stories work, but I don’t think every damned soldier would have his little speech in real life.

Movie #2– The soldiers joke around, pop one-liners and jerk with each other. Is this a Jerry Bruckheimer film or what? Like a second “Armageddon”, the movie unites a bunch of little known but cool actors, like Giovanni Ribisi, Paul Giamatti, Vin Diesel, Tom Sizemore and others. Even Ted Danson is given a scene. Oh, and there’s that Matt Damon, who’s over-hyped but not a bad actor, and Edward Burns, the dullest hack of all dull hacks. The guy that really annoyed me though is Jeremy Davies as a wussy translator who doesn’t even get off his ass. I guess he’s supposed to represent the guys who wormed their way out of the war by hiding instead of fighting.

Movie #1– Basically, Spielberg tries to win back the Academy’s heart after “Amistad”‘s undeserved failure. His film is superior to most of the crap we’re thrown, but this ain’t no “Schindler’s List”. Critics still are raving, but let’s admit it: this ain’t a perfect film. The war scenes are impressive, but the script is particularly lame. This is definitively not the best war film of all times or whatever. It lacks the intensity and lyrical power of “Apocalypse Now”, my personal favorite. But this ain’t such a big deal, since I also thought that “Platoon” didn’t deserve its Oscars. Maybe it’s just me.

Movie #2– In case you haven’t figured out why this review is in two parts, it’s simply because that’s one of Spielberg’s mistakes: he wants to do two films at once. He wants a serious drama to please the Academy, but he also wants to give something to the popcorn audience who gave him his career. I already explained why he shouldn’t get an Oscar, but I don’t think this is his most entertaining film either. That has to be “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, a daring, action-packed and hilarious adventure. But that doesn’t mean that “Saving Private Ryan” has nothing to offer. The combat scenes alone make it a must-see, but I sometimes wished I could fast-forward through the rest. Maybe it’s just me.