Thursday, 20 May 2010

Everyman's War

I'm fresh off the sofa after watching this interesting movie. It's definitely not a terrible war movie. In fact, it could be used to illustrate my previous post on high budget versus low budget; I preferred it over many of last years massive movies. Everyman's War is an interesting look at the closing stages of World War Two, in particular the Battle Of The Bulge which took place in the Ardennes, seen from the eyes of one man, Don Smith. Don't be mislead. This is not the sort of war movie brimming with "ZOMG HEADSHOT", Call Of Duty style action. It's entirely more engaging, thanks to sufficient character development, decent back-story, and a foundationary love interest.

There were two moments that really stood out for me in this movie, and I'd love to know how accurate they really are. There is a take-your-breath away moment when Don is wounded, dragging himself through an open snow-covered field, and a German has his K98 trained on him. Then he sees that he's wounded and lets him go. An honourable moment of chivalry. Then, the whole subplot with a German POW who commits suicide, only for Don to discover the truth behind a letter written in German once he's returned to the States. It's poignant and upsetting.

Despite a mostly unknown team of actors, the acting is mostly believable, and arguably better than the recent First World War based Passchendaele. The actual battle scenes are not as impressive though, in my opinion.

The writing isn't terrible but it could have been better. I can't put it simpler than that. The action is well written, but some of the dialogue seems off, but that could just be the way certain actors delivered their lines. The cinematography is engaging and effective, rarely, if ever, disconnecting us from the movie. The music/score is used sparingly but to good effect.

There was a definite amateur feel to the movie, but it is worth a watch. It's certainly not as bad as many reviews would lead you to believe. Authenticity, always key to a decent war film, seems to have been kept pretty high, with use of seemingly realistic costumes and weapons. In particular, I was impressed with the look of the MkIV Panzer tanks employed by the Germans. The only thing that really annoyed me about the costuming in Everyman's War is that the uniforms were prefectly cleaned and pressed most of the time. It doesn't ruin the movie if you can ignore it, but it is disappointing. I doubt anyone could keep their uniforms looking that clean after months of battle. That's the only real letdown for me.

To sum up, if you like war movies this is worthy, even if there is only one real battle scene. They make good use of realistic sounding artillery and explosion effects throughout, to keep you involved. I can't see any real incentive for someone who isn't interested in War films to watch this. The story outside of the battle isn't deep enough. It's sufficient to make us care for the characters. Considering the budget of this movie is estimated at 720,000USD, it does what it does well. Not quite at the same level as Band Of Brothers, The Pacific or even Saving Private Ryan (do bear in mind that one episode of Band of Brothers cost 12million to produce), it is the story of a real veteran, and therefore worth a watch.

I give this movie a thumbs up.

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