Archives for posts with tag: WW II

Grade B +

1945, Germany.  The Americans are pushing hard toward Berlin.   Hitler has mobilized every German he could get his hands on (old men, women, children) to try to stop the American advance.  At the front lines is a Sherman tank crew headed by a tough Sergeant played by Brad Pitt.  Short one crewman who was killed in action, Pitt receives a completely green, teenaged soldier (played by Logan Lerman) who specializes in typing and never had one minute of training in a tank.

Knowing that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, Pitt forces Lerman to grow up much faster than the kid is able to.  With a huge push deeper into enemy territory coming up fast, Pitt’s crew must work together as one, cohesive unit if they are to have even a small chance of staying alive.

My most memorable, movie moment on “Fury” is the scene when Pitt’s platoon of tanks line up side by side and fire at a treeline ahead of them where German soldiers have taken a defensive position.  With all guns firing (main cannons, .50 Browning heavy machine-guns, .30 machine-guns) the Germans are slaughtered within seconds, with many bodies blown to pieces.

The outer shell of “Fury” is a vicious, gruesome tale of WW II combat.  Within this shell is the story of Pitt, a veteran warrior who is near his breaking point, and is further burdened with a boy he must teach to be a hardened soldier; and in doing so, risks further dehumanizing himself as well as the boy.

“Fury” is one of the best war movies made in the last 20 years; and had it not been for the slight — I’m being kind here — unbelievable nature of the final battle, “Fury” would have been destined to become a classic.

— M

Grade A

 Expertly directed by Angelina Jolie, “Unbroken” is the true story of U.S. soldier Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O’Connell) who survived weeks in a raft in the ocean after a plane crash, then is taken prisoner by Japanese soldiers and brutalized by the commander of the P.O.W. camp.

A dangerous bombing run, an attack by Japanese Zeros, a search and rescue operation that turns into a disaster, the agonizing weeks of starvation and thirst in a life raft, flashbacks of Zamperini’s troubled childhood and redemption, and the never ending days of torment in two Japanese P.O.W. camps give the audience insight to who this amazing person is and how he was able to survive the hardships during World War II.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Unbroken” is the scene when O’Connell is in the life raft with two of his friends who also survived the plane crash; there is a wicked storm and each wave is as big as a three-story house.  O’Connell grips tightly on the ropes attached to the raft, praying to God to help him make it through this horror.

“Unbroken” is a story made more powerful because it is true.  Both the beauty and ugliness of the human spirit are shown, with the “better angels of our nature” winning.

— M

“Red Tails” is one of the best, mediocre movies you’ll ever see.   It is based on the struggles of the Tuskegee Airmen (black, fighter pilots during World War II) against racism, prejudice, and German fighter pilots.  The title is derived from the unit flying P-51 Mustangs that had their tail sections painted red to distinguish themselves from the other units.

A story so promising has been ruined by writing that comes off as a first draft, directing that is usually seen in movies from the Lifetime Network, the use of nearly every war movie cliche, and editing that seems to lack purpose.  I only watched it because my friend, Ed, told me the air combat scenes were good.  Well…yeah, but then you hear the pilot chatter and even those scenes are ruined, too.  Most of the dialogue is bad.  The pilots are whoopin’ and hollering and joking so much during the dogfighting that it destroys the suspense and drama in those aerial sequences.  This first viewing of “Red Tails” is most likely my last one, also.

Now that I’ve finished trash talking this movie, I’ll talk about some of its good points.  Terrence Howard is the sole, shining star of “Red Tails.”  He is given the best dialogue, and he delivers it with such intensity that it makes all the other actors — Gooding included — look like a bunch of stand-ins.  My second compliment of this movie leads me to my most memorable, movie moment.  There is a wide shot of two Tuskegee Airmen being followed by a German plane; the T.A. planes split, with one doing a wide loop to get behind the German plane in order to destroy it.  It is a beautiful shot that shows us some of the tactics pilots use in dogfighting.

If this was an MOW (Movie Of The Week) it would be a hit, because we have lower standards for them.  But “Red Tails” came out in the theaters, and we expect more for things we pay for.   Even though I watched this for free — thanks, Queens library! — I still feel cheated.  I should send the director, screenwriters, and producers a bill for the time I spent watching their movie.




To: Director Anthony Hemingway, Screenwriters John Ridley and Aaron McGruder

You owe me, Manny, a total of $20.83 (125 minutes of “Red Tails” x $10/hour) for the wasted time I spent watching your mediocre movie.
Please remit the stated amount within 60 days, or I shall use the services of bill collectors.
Manny, of



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