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Lazy soldiers lying down on the job.
The Great Raid
(Hollywood remake or sequel, or film based on a comic book, book, play or video game # 41, since January 1st, 2005. Click for full list of Hollywood's lack of original ideas.)
Review written by: Alex Sandell
Filmed in 2002, The Great Raid was shelved for over 2 years. The reason for the delay isn't widely known, but rumors range from poor test screenings to a "Liberal" conspiracy to push the film back until after the 2004 election, because its by-the-numbers patriotism would supposedly help George W. Bush get reelected (when all it really took was a few million homophobes). It's no surprise then that about the only place this film is being heavily advertised is on the FOX "News" Channel.
The Great Raid is the perfect movie for jingoistic Fox flag-wavers to wrap themselves up in, between watching episodes of Hannity & Colmes and sending form letters off to the FCC, complaining about the "lib-er-al" media. The film has no grey area, the acting is flat and the dialogue is self-important enough to rile up the reactionaries. It's as deep as Bill O'Reilly's talking points and as useless as his most ridiculous item of the day.
Americans are all saintly, "Japs" are all evil and the film is as black and white as any given State of the Union Address delivered by President George W. Bush. Don't expect to find multi-faceted good guys and don't go in looking for baddies any more complex than those found on your average episode of Hogan's Heroes. If you can get past all that, don't be surprised if you actually find the film mildly enjoyable -- especially if you're a fan of old-fashioned war movies and melodrama.
This was my mom's favorite movie so far this year. When she told me she gave it a 9 out of 10, I thought she was kidding. She looked hurt when I chuckled, raised an eyebrow and sarcastically said, "no, really." "Really," she replied. She went on to tell me that it reminded her of the movies she'd sit and watch as a child. She became defensive when I brought up my various complaints. "Things were black and white during that war," she said.
Although I don't think any war is 100% black and white, my mother was correct in comparing the film to old-fashioned war movies. Director John Dahl, who should get another stab at directing a film in this genre, never resorts to using fancy camera tricks or flashy editing that makes it nearly impossible to make out what's going on (a crutch that's killed a lot of recent films in the genre). He definitely has the directing chops to make an excellent war picture. It's unfortunate that first-time screenwriters, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro didn't give the director better material to work with.
Based on two novels about World War II, The Great Raid had a lot of potential. Sadly, its screenwriters were content to fall back on "war movie 101" clichés, never allowing the director to give the film a unique personality of its own. The set design in the film is top-notch. The true stories the movie's based on are powerful. But when combined, nothing completely works right with the other thing and it will all most likely be forgotten before Mr. O'Reilly gets around to airing his next pointless blacklist or finding his next group of witches to hunt.
Click here to read my Grandfather's letters home from World War II.
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