Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Just Over the Ridge.

I have to say that I didn't think much of Hacksaw Ridge when I first heard about it. Part of that is most war films that are made after 1970's just aren't that good. 1940's-1970's period saw the best war films ever made, and just after that success (critically and commercially) tends to be elusive, at least for my taste. Granted there are great blips like Saving Private Ryan but I would say that tends to be the exception. Another part is that I'm not really a big fan of Mel Gibson as an actor or director; The Patriot is really the only film of his that I enjoy, and for the most part Signs, but other than that nothing else. The last part I was uncertain about was the story angle of the film which was the main character being a conscientious objector right in the middle of a war; didn't sound that great. Just like many of the characters in the film, it turns out I was so very wrong about my preconceived notions. The film follows the real life story of Desmond Doss who volunteered to participate in WWII as a conscientious objector for spiritual and personal reasons, and how he navigates that as he goes through training and then when the fighting actually takes place. Andrew Garfield is clearly a superior actor (a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that he is British and was schooled in theatre there) and he did such a fantastic job of bringing the real man, Desmond Doss, alive on the screen. He was nominated for an Oscar for the work that he did, and even though I doubt he'll win, he certainly deserves to. Teresa Palmer as his love interest Dorthoy Schutte did equally well as Garfield, and the two of them had amazing on-screen chemistry. Hugo Weaving really showed great depth as an actor as he depicted the war torn veteran soldier father of Garfield's main character (Tom Doss) who suffers from PTSD and has become an alcoholic. Rachel Griffiths as the mother Bertha Doss was lovely as ever of course, and brought even more heart to the story and the central struggle going on with the characters. Sam Worthington (Captain Glover) and Vince Vaughn (Sgt Howell) were both great characters, although Worthington played the more transformative character with greater depth, but Mr. Vaughn was able to play a character that I didn't find overly obnoxious, so that was pretty awesome. The rest of the ensemble cast, particularly the soldiers that trained and fought alongside Garfield's character, were spectacular; they captured the camaraderie and group dynamics that you often saw in earlier (1940's & 1950's) war films with the cast aside from the main characters.
So I enjoyed the film a lot. I laughed, blanched more than a number of times, held back a lot of tears, and I was inspired. Mel Gibson definitely did a fine job as director and deserves that Oscar nomination for Directing and for Best Picture. The screenplay written by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight was for the most part pretty good, although the one major complaint I had was that the film went very, very slow up until Garfield's character enlists and begins boot camp. After that transition, the film doesn't miss a beat. Simon Duggan did a fine job with the cinematography (should have been nominated for an Oscar), John Gilbert received an Oscar nomination for Best Editing, although I disagree that the editing was that good, but it wasn't dreadful. Rupert Gregson-Williams composed the music and I honestly cannot recall if it was any good, but I want to say yes, although if it was really good I would definitely would remember; so not entirely certain on that. The technical aspects of the film were well done; the film was nominated for two Oscars for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. All in all, it was an amazing film and definitely worth watching, and worth watching again. What I really enjoyed about the film was the real aspect of the film, and what you see at the end of the film just made it all even more amazing. I definitely tip my hat off to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to defeat the Nazis and Imperial Japanese forces during WWII; there are no greater American heroes than they, and they should be regarded with such reverence and respect. Individuals like that should be the role models for young women and men, not petty celebrities or arrogant athletes. Well one month later, the United States is still functioning as is the rest of the world, despite the antics of terrorists and several dictators; a little less then 8 years to go.

Hacksaw Ridge Cast & Filmmaker interviews

Hacksaw Ridge clip

Avengers: Infinity War first look