We Were Soldiers

Released in 2002, We Were Soldiers has become sort of a forgotten film from Mel Gibsons filmography. While not the best war movie, it certainly is a good one. Set during the Vietnam War, the film uses the Battle of La Drang as its narrative. The movie is Gibsons last war film before returning with last years Hacksaw Ridge. Randall Wallace directs, produce, and writes this film. He had previously collaborated with Mel Gibson on Braveheart for which he was nominated for his screenplay. Perhaps he decided to work with him once more after being nominated for a Golden Raspberry from the previous year for his screenplay in Pearl Harbor. Wallace returns to form with this movie, able to make humans on both sides of the war, Americans and the Vietnamese. However, there are some familiar war cliches that are used far too much which hinder Wallaces screenplay. Randall Wallace expertly directs the action sequences, all of them visceral, bloody, and realistic. All the performances are great, Gibson is as per usual, the standout. There isnt much to praise or criticize with We Were Soldiers. As stated before it is able to humanize the Vietnamese when so many other films wouldn’t attempt to do so. The cliches does hinder enjoyment but the characters and action makes up for it. There is wasted potential in the film, keeping it from being a great war film instead of it just being a slightly above average film. Maybe the film could have used Mel Gibson twisting his nipples.

The Thin Red Line

The year 1998 saw two iconic World War II films, Saving Private Ryan and Thin Red Line. Thin Red Line is Terrence Malicks take on the war genre. Like most Malick films, the movie contains an ensemble cast. The movie is set in the pacific theater of WWII and uses a fictionalized version of the Battle of Mount Austen. The cast includes Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, John C. Riley, Jared Leto, John Travolta, among others. With such a large cast of characters, it is very easy for a film of this nature to feel bloated with razor thin characters, but Malick often uses large casts and knows how to avoid this problem. The central cast feels fleshed out and like actual people. The performances are as usual for Malick movies, great. There isnt a stand out performance however, but that really isn’t needed. As per usual, Terrence Malicks Thin Red Line is beautiful. It’s one of his best looking films, second only to Tree of Life. Battle scenes are sparse and far in between, but are built up, thus causing more emotion and impact when we see a character die. The carnage unlike Spielbergs Saving Private Ryan is filmed primarily in wide shots, letting the action play out for our eyes. The empty and vast locations used in the film fit the mood and overall tone as it suits the downward spiral some of our characters undergo. As it was released in the same year as Saving Private Ryan, Thin Red Line has become somewhat overshadowed in recent years. Both films were nominated for multiple Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Both are amazing in their own right. Saving Private Ryan is a masterpiece in direction and technical mastery, while Thin Red Line is much more character driven. Highly recommended.

The Social Network

When people think of the movie, The Social Network, they say, “Oh yea, the movie about Facebook.” While not necessarily wrong, the film is more about ambition. The Social Network chronicles Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of his company, Facebook, at the cost of his friend, Eduardo Saverin. David Fincher delivers another masterpiece, and arguably, his magnum opus. Andy Sorkin’s screenplay is littered with his hallmark of “Smartest person in the room outsmarts others” but feels much more restrained here. Snappy dialogue keeps the film at a steady and fast pace. All of the characters feel like real people and are held up by their performances. Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin are easily the standout performances here. Eisenberg is able to be an asshole yet, relatable, reflecting our want to be feel wanted and famous. It is easily Jesse’s best performance to date. Garfield is the one that the audience attaches to, easily the most likeable character on screen and really gets the audience’s sympathy, in a scene in which Mark betrays him. Garfield in a lot of ways, steals the show. Every shot in The Social Network feels carefully thought about. David Fincher hardly uses hand held, instead letting the camera linger and have it glide over its subjects, giving a feeling as if what is happening on screen was meant to happen. The brown- yellowish color palette give off an unsettling mood. Trent Reznor and Atticus Rosss synth/rock score contributes and makes the film hypnotic. Fincher knows how to build tension through editing and knowing when to cut and where to place the camera. How he stages his actors and the space they inhabit show careful thought and oozes details with each shot. The Social Network is one of the best films of the decade. It shows a realistic take on how a persons ambition affects others around him and the consequences of his actions. It reflects on the idea of societys exclusiveness and how it gets broken down. Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield turn in magnificent performances. This movie is a perfect example of why David Fincher is currently one of the best directors working today and one who is on top of their game. Watch this movie.


Superbad is super bad. Ok, now that that joke is out of my system, Superbad is a good film. The movie tells the story of Seth and Evan who plan to lose their virginities at a high school party however their plan begins to go south. The film stars Jonah Hill and Michael Cera as Seth and Evan respectively. Superbad is directed by Greg Mottola and produced by Judd Apatow. Mottola went on to direct Adventureland which in comparison was more of a romance. This film doesnt quite feel as if Mottola directed it and instead, Judd Apatow did. The film features raunchy comedy and shots play out for long periods of time. Much of the dialogue feels improv as the actors were just riffing off each other. This makes the scenes much more natural and lets Jonah Hill and Michael Cera really shine in their performances. Their chemistry with each other worked extremely well and you really believed they were two geeks who couldn’t lose their v-card, both by their appearance and how they acted. As stated above, much of the film felt like improv and perhaps it was, but this comes at a downfall and hence why I saw it felt more like a Apatow film. Many of the scenes last far too long which is due to the actors continuing to riff off each other. This causes the movie to drag in some places, disrupting Seth Rogen and Evan Goldbergs quick and snappy screenplay. Like most comedies, Superbad is shot rather boringly, which is a shame. Much of the comedy comes from the dialogue, which is fine as it's hilarious, but I wished that there was some more visual comedy. Perhaps Judd Apatow stepped in too much. Superbad is a great comedy film. If youre looking for a film that you can watch with your friends, then this is the movie for you. Excellent performances from Jonah Hill and Michael Cera who play off each other really well.

Blade Runner (The Final Cut)

Released in 1982, Ridley Scotts adaptation of Philip K Dicks novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was met with initial mixed responses. It was praised for its special effects and direction, but criticized for its pacing and lackluster narration. Since its initial release Blade Runner has had two more cuts, the directors cut and the final cut. The director’s cut is misleading as Ridley didn’t have much input in this edit, while the final cut was completely Scotts vision. As someone who has seen all 3 cuts of the film, the final cut is definitely the way to watch the film. Blade Runner is a neo-noir, sci-fi film set in the future 2019. Technology has advanced to a point in which androids, named replicants, are near indistinguishable from humans. The use of replicants are banned on Earth. Replicants who defy the ban are hunted down by special operatives named Blade Runners. Rick Deckard is one of these Blade Runners and chooses to take one last assignment. As Rick Deckard continues his hunt for Roy, he finds himself falling in love with a replicant named Rachel. The film deals with the question of what makes a human, and whether or not something that isnt human, can be considered human. Scott expertly makes us care for replicants, effectively questioning Deckards morals as well as our own. Harrison Ford will always be known as Indiana Jones or Han Solo, but Rick Deckard is his finest performance. Ford is able to display a multitude of emotions in his haggard face without relying on being over the top. Rutger Hauer is able to become a sympathetic antagonist over the course of the film, and delivers the biggest emotional punch in the film. If I was to point out one thing that Ridley Scott does consistently well, it is in his visuals. Scott always manages to build worlds that feel lived in and Blade Runner is no different. The set designs for a dystopian Los Angeles are really well done and are perfectly blended with the CGI. This combined with Jordan Cronenweths expert cinematography makes for a film that still looks great to this day. Bathed in a dark blue and highlighted with neon lights, the city of LA just looks and feels grimy and dirty, fitting in with the tone and mood of the movie. While Scott is an expert in the technical sides of directing, he often lacks in creating a connection with the characters, however Blade Runner provides an exception to this rule. Blade Runner has been selected for preservation in the Library of Congress for good reason. It features prime Ridley Scott flexing both his technical mastery and his ability to draw emotion from the audience. All of the performances are great, with Harrison Ford turning in his best one to date.As stated before, Scott usually struggles with the human(emotion) side of his films, funny how Blade Runner is an exception. Highly recommended, especially the final cut as it gets rid of the narration provided by Ford, who has stated that he intentionally made the narration as bad as possible.