Posts Tagged ‘savingprivateryan1998’

If you’re like me, you’ve seen and heard jokes and morning show conversations about how unsafe it is to travel with Tom Hanks. This has come up with the release of Sully, inspired by the notorious Miracle on the Hudson emergency plane landing and the events which followed. With this, Tom Hanks has been in at least two major releases where a character he plays deals with a plane crash.

So yes, maybe flying with a Tom Hanks character isn’t the greatest of ideas, but imagine the story which you would walk away telling. Hanks always chooses, or at least almost always, interesting stories and projects, so if all you have to deal with is a little plane crash, so be it.

This, and the release of the latest Dan Brown book-to-screen adaptation of Inferno with Hanks again as Robert Langdon, led me to start thinking about Tom Hanks movies in general, and great subject to ponder. This guy went from the TV show Bosom Buddies, which is where I first was exposed to him, to some of the best films of our time. Thus the inspiration of my latest Top 5 Favorites post.

Before I get into my personal favorites of his film career, let me review how I remember Tom Hanks coming to power. Since I am a child of the ’80s, my first exposure of Tom Hanks was on the TV sitcom Bosom Buddies where he and fellow actor Peter Scolari had to dress as women to get a decent rent-controlled Manhattan apartment in a building for only female residents. After that, I believe the first movie I saw him in, on VHS of course, was Splash (1984). I was a little over 10 years old and barreling towards puberty, so to be honest it took many years for me to realize Tom Hanks was even in that film, since all I payed attention to was Daryl Hannah as a mermaid.

After that, Hanks went on to star in a series of screwball comedies, some better than others, but it wasn’t until I saw Nothing In Common (1986) on HBO as a teenager that I knew this screwball actor had a major amount of talent and range. Punchline (1988) followed that and I remember watching it with my folks on VHS. During the infamous–in my book–scene when Hanks’s character does his Singing in the Rain performance outside that diner having been romantically rejected by Sally Field’s character, my dad uttered a simple, “Wow, that guy is GOOD.”

Multiple projects later as an actor, producer and director including back-to-back Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role during the mid-1990’s, and Tom Hanks has carved himself a niche as being one of the great actors of my generation.

Without further haste, here are my selections for what are my Top 5 Favorite Tom Hanks movies thus far. The are listed from No. 5 to No. 1.

Subjected for your approval.

poster_savingmrbanksNo. 5 – Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

One icon of cinema playing another icon. Tom Hanks gets to portray Walt Disney, pre-popsicle of course. This movie was so delightful for so many reasons; the cast, the rehearsal scenes, the dynamic Hanks and co-star Emma Thompson (Stranger Than Fiction) created between Disney and the creator of the Mary Poppins literary franchise, P.L. Travers, as the two worked to bring the books to the big screen. Hanks has two great scenes for me; first, when he opens up to Travers about his father forcing him to run his paper route and learning the meaning of forgiveness. The other was the scene where, while in rehearsal, Travers demanded the film not have the color red in all the exterior scenes of London.

The film was extremely informative from a Hollywood historic standpoint, particularly in the fact that Disney never acquired the intellectual property rights to adapt Mary Poppins to screen until well after pre-production had begun.

However, Thompson and Hanks really carried the film with an amazing supporting cast, and Hanks as Disney was a prime example of how this actor is a true chameleon. Among the actor’s research and preparation for the role, Hanks visited the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco several times and spoke with family members including Disney’s daughter Diane Disney Miller. Supposedly, Hanks himself is a distant cousin of Walt Disney, but I could not find any reliable source on the web to confirm that little tidbit.

To read my full review of Saving Mr. Banks, click here.

poster_castawayNo. 4 – Cast Away (2000)

The beauty of this film is how Tom Hanks can say so much with his physical performance and non-verbal representation without having hardly any lines. The story is about how a FedEx executive whose world is ruled by the clock and having no time to meet goals suddenly finds himself stuck on a remote island when his flight crashes in the ocean, now he has all the time in the world for the next three years until he finally figures out a way to try and escape to freedom or die in the process.

To this day, any time I build something with my own hands, like our dog house or change out a light fixture, and it works, I throw my hands in the air and shout, “YES! LOOK WHAT I HAVE CREATED!” This refers to one of the more memorable scenes from the movie where Hanks’ character, Chuck, figures out how to start a fire in the wild of the island, probably having never done so in his life. The moment shows Chuck reaching a new level of his own masculinity and is comical since we’ve all had moments of acting like a total tard when no one was looking.

The moment which shows Hanks as a master for me is when Chuck has finally escaped the island and floating out at see with his volleyball co-hort Wilson, who became the only “person” for him to talk to for his years of solitude. However, while napping on his raft at sea, Wilson comes loose and drifts out into open water with Chuck unable to rescue him. Chuck loses his only friend for the previous three years and the next scene shows him sobbing like a child who lost their best friend. That moment brings me to tears every time, and it is all because Hanks does such a superior job of selling it to the viewer.

Hanks gave an interview in 2000 about his preparation for the role, from which he stated the hardest part was losing so much weight to show Chuck three years after being stranded. He said not eating French Fries during that process was torture, I agree it would be. Regardless, his pre-production work paid off in the final project helping create one of his greatest roles and pictures.

There is only one moment of the movie I disliked. During the reuniting of Chuck and girlfriend Kelly, played by Helen Hunt (As good As It Gets), when she is catching him up on events he missed over the past three years, she mentions Tennessee not only has an NFL football team in the Titans, they went to the Superbowl and almost one the game but came up short by one yard; one yard away from winning. That’s actually inaccurate. In that Superbowl game, the Titans were down by a touchdown and they needed to reach the end zone to tie the game and send it into overtime. On their last play, the were one yard shy of the goal line. It was one yard to tie, not one yard to win. That has always bugged me for some reason. Maybe Kelly just didn’t understand the game.

poster_punchlineNo. 3 – Punchline (1988)

This movie is not only one of my favorite Tom Hanks films, it is one of my favorites of all time. It follows the plights of two comedians; Steven (Hanks) who is a med-school flunkie and peppered stand up comic and Lila (Sally Field) who is a New Jersey housewife who is trying to break into the craft. She enlists Steven into a sort of mentorship role while Steven eventually falls for Lila. The picture culminates into the lauching of Steven’s career because of Lila’s sacrifice.

The movie in general is a small story from the life of comic Barry Sobel, who was quite popular during the late ’80s and early ’90s. However, Hanks was nothing like Sobel. The actor made the character his own. He was hilarious but also quietly sad, being virtually homeless and emotionally helpless, that is until Lila comes into his life. This is also possibly the best performance I’ve ever seen from Field. Between her and John Goodman (Coyote Ugly) playing her husband, her home life creating adversity for her outer motivation was so well scripted.

Back to Hanks. Like I mentioned in my preface, the Singing in the Rain scene shows how trying to be funny can truly give you a glimpse at a character’s sadness and depression. I just don’t know how Hanks pulled that scene off but it is truly masterful.

In preparation for this role, Hanks–and Fields for that matter–enlisted the aide of actual stand up comics to help them. Helping Hanks was none other than his character’s true-life inspiration Barry Sobel. Sobel and comedian Randy Fetcher teamed with Hanks to help write his character’s stand up routines for the film. Both Hanks and Fields took their learnings to random stand up clubs to get comfortable with the craft prior to filming.

David Selzter (Lucas), writer and director, was a fan of comedy clubs which helped inspire him to write this loosely adapted from true life plot. His work on this project was truly a great example of writing, directing and performance choices working together as a team. That is one of many reasons Punchline is one of my favorite movies of all time and one my favorites starring Tom Hanks. To read my full review of Punchline, click here.

poster_savingryanNo. 2 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

I think it’s amusing only one movie directed by Steven Spielberg appears among this list, while two appear directed by Robert Zemeckis. I felt the ensemble performances within the eight men of the rescue squad was what made this picture so entertaining. It will take a long time to put an ensemble THIS strong together again.

However, Tom Hanks as Captain Miller was the cornerstone of the casting. Hanks had so many great aspects to his character including the neurological tick which made his hands tremble at times. Also, the script included an interesting game among Miller’s men who kept guessing his backstory but wasn’t really sure until one of the film’s most tense moments. The speech of that scene was actually much longer, and Hanks pleaded to Spielberg to shorten it since Miller wouldn’t be interested in telling his men that much about himself. Spielberg agreed.

The special effects, going hand in hand with the picture’s production design, was flawless and captured the destruction and the era of the German occupied regions of France depicted throughout the story. Two-time Academy Award winning director Spielberg and two-time Oscar winner Januz Kaminski really knocked the visuals of the film out of the park. Overall, you can’t get a better World War II set movie than “Saving Private Ryan.” I have yet to see anything come close, and I doubt I will in the remainder of my lifetime.

One note to Tom Hanks integrity to the craft was a six-day boot camp each of the actors were asked to endure prior to filming. Since the boot camp was terribly physically challenging, one actor voted the team quit, but it was Tom Hanks, who reputed enjoyed the experience, who decided to stick it out in preparation of his role, thus inspiring the rest of the cast to see the camp to its end as well.

To read my full review of Saving Private Ryan, click here.

poster_forrestgumpNo. 1 – Forrest Gump (1994)

This is my second selection directed by Robert Zemeckis which won him the Academy Award for Best Direction in 1995; however, it is my first selection among favorite Tom Hanks starring pictures.

Forrest Gump is just a man who looks to keep things simple, thinks simple and loves a gal who is anything but. However, it is the numerous sequences where Gump’s presence is added to pivotal moments in American history and at times causes them is what makes this picture a delight. That, and of course his friendship-relationship with Jenny, played by Robin Wright (Unbreakable), is what pulls the heart strings and makes this movie an American classic.

My favorite scene to show Hanks’ chops is when he is reunited with Jenny, after she has given birth to her son, also named Forrest. She tells Forrest Sr. the son is HIS from their one night together years before. Hanks’ physical response to the news, knowing he now has a son and concerned for the kid’s mental abilities showed two things. One, there was an emotion of utter fright which Hanks conveyed without using any dialogue, and two, this was the first indication that Forrest was cognitive of his own mental limitations and fearful it was hereditary.

This is of course an ironic notion since it shows a level of sharpness we hadn’t been shown from Gump prior to that moment. The moment gets me in the feelie-goods every time and shows the immense amount of talent Hanks has for his craft, and that scene–in my opinion–won Hanks the Academy Award.

This performance is also one of the best and unique accents Hanks had developed from the film. Watching the DVD extras, Hanks gives an interview where he credits the accent was developed from the natural accent of Michael Connor Humphreys who played Gump as a young boy. Hanks said he had such a great southern accent which “came from his backbone,” he decided to adopt it for his older Gump character. To do so, Hanks sat and listened to Humphreys describe the plot of his favorite movie to him. The movie? Jurassic Park.

Another reason I felt this production was special for Hanks, since the visual effects of the film and locations were demanding on the film’s budget, the A-List actor, whom already won one Academy Award walking on set by that time, agreed to not be paid for his role. Instead, he accepted percentage points as compensation which allowed him a $40 million dollar payday and his second Oscar. Sometimes, Hanks knows it’s about the craft first and the money later, and this brilliant work is a prime example of that. This is just one of many reasons why Forrest Gump is my favorite film in Tom Hanks’ list of productions.

Of course, when you review Hanks’ list of films, choosing a mere five to select as your favorites is extremely hard if not impossible. He has performed in so many absolutely great films, not good but GREAT films, selecting only five to write about can’t be done. Therefore, I have selected–as I do with all my Top 5 Favorites posts–five honorable mentions which almost made the cut.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Tom Hanks’ character of Donovan is where the message of this film sits. Compromise is about “Give” and take not “Give Up” and take. His resolve and refusal to compromise his negotiation stance helps the audience get behind him as a protagonist. Hanks is as well as he always does in a leadership type roll. I also like how they gave his character a cold during the entire trip to Berlin for negotiations. For some reason, it made him more human. Now, Hanks is always a great addition to any film, but this is the one film where Hanks doesn’t necessarily carry the film. They carry each other. To read my full review of Bridge of Spies, click here.

Captain Phillips (2013)

This is such a great story and well made film, but half of it occurs in such closed quarters, the film becomes a complete study in using one’s face to convey inner motivations and fears. Tom Hanks and Academy Award nominated supporting actor Barkhad Abdirahman, the leader of the Somalie pirates. Hanks is perfectly the man for that kind of trade. The film is intense and the moment when Phillips, the title character, is about to be executed by his captors and he screams out to his family back in New England for even having left them, my heart breaks each time I’ve seen. In addition, after the Navy Seals finally take down the bad guys and Hanks is rescued, his breakdown in the medical unit equally heartbreaking but far more satisfying.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

This was moreso a great notch on Leonardo DiCaprio’s resume, but Tom Hanks as a nemesis character on the side of the law is a perfect addition to the dynamic of the film. DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale Jr.–whom I’ve actually interviewed in real life, the true life-inspired character not the actor–serves as an anti-hero, breaking the law and swindling money just to support himself as a runaway. However, Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty is the man attempting to bring justice to the story, so even though he’s the nemesis for the main character, he’s the “good guy.” This makes the film unique and one of my favorites with Hanks on the bill. To read my full review of Catch Me If You Can, click here.

Apollo 13 (1995)

What can I say about this modern classic about one of the most terrible moments in NASA history which turned into one of its finest hours of rescue. From the moment the Apollo 13 mission to the moon is derailed by a faulty coil which blows up an oxygen tank once the three-man crew are in outer space, the film is one of the most intense stories of rescue and government teamwork. Hanks is wonderful as the lead role of astronaut Jim Lovell who was captain of the mission vessel and it’s not only one of my favorite Tom Hanks movies, it’s one of my favorites from director Ron Howard.

The Terminal (1999)

Barely edging out The Green Mile among my honorable mentions is The Terminal about a foreigner (Hanks) who is detained and stranded at New York’s JFK international airport while on a mission to honor his late-father’s memory. However, after a coup in his homeland while flying to the U.S. leaves him without a country to pass through immigration checkpoints, Hanks’ foreign character Viktor uses his time making friends, learning to speak English and battling the strangely anal adversity of an extremely well-written nemesis character in Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci). Albeit the romance between Viktor and Amelia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) got convoluted at times, this slice of life picture directed by Steven Spielberg was enjoyable from start to finish and there is no reason to consider it one of my honorable mention favorites starring Tom Hanks. To read my full review of The Terminal, click here.

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The month of May for those of us writing with Brian and Benn’s Movie Corner has been deemed a Salute to U.S. Armed Forces since this month contains both Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day. So with this as our theme, it makes sense Brian G. Felts and I would take a look at what each of our Top 5 favorite movies involving the U.S. Armed Forces as a sort of tribute to the American men and women who continue to live stories of heroism and tragedy for the sake of others and their nation.

The first motion picture in history to depict a war involving the United States was a silent film titled The Birth of the Nation (1915). It was a pro-Union Civil War propaganda film which somehow linked the conflict of the Civil War to the founding of the Klu Klux Klan. Since then, war and those in service during these war have been a part of film history so much, it could have its own genre.

In while compiling my list of Top 5 favorite U.S. Armed Forces movies, not war movies because not all my selections involve an actual war. All of my top selections do involve legendary directors who are accustomed to projects on an epic scale. My selections also have in common a large cast of either all-stars or soon to be all-stars. However, the branch of the military which is involved with my selections and the time periods have no connection to each other.

So without further pause, below are my selections for my Top 5 Favorite U.S. Armed Forces movies. As usual, they are listed from No. 5 to No. 1.

poster_gloryNo. 5 – Glory (1989)

Directed by Edward Zwick

The civil war isn’t exactly what one would think of when looking to list movies which tribute the American military, especially since both sides of the conflict were American. However, the Union Army was the central hero in this film so I’m making it count. This movie was informative from start to finish about one the first all-AfroAmerican regiments of the Union Army and it was the first to see actual battle. It’s cast had a handful of names but for the most part it cast people still proving themselves.

One of those “names” was Morgan Freeman (Bruce Almighty) who became the first non-commissioned officer of the regiment, since the U.S. Army didn’t commission “black” soldiers. Morgan was a natural leader as he is in most of his roles. Denzel Washington (The Equalizer) won his first Academy Award for this role and his quick mouthed character had his best moment for his performance after going temporarily AWOL to get a warm meal. He was captured as a deserter and disciplined with lashes.

Washington kept eye contact with Matthew Broderick (The Producers), who played the Colonel of the regiment, while a single tear rolled down the ex-slave’s face during the lashing. It was maybe the most powerful moment of the whole movie and proves Washington was an upcoming master of his craft.

Edward Zwick (Legends of the Fall) directed this and made best use of the material at every decision. The scope of this film was incredible given the needs to portray the Civil War era. The music score for the film from James Horner is haunting yet patriotic and one of my longtime favorites.

Of all films set during the civil war, this was my favorite and one of my favorites involving the U.S. Armed Forces in its history.

poster_uncommonvalorNo. 4 – Uncommon Valor (1983)

Directed by Ted Kotcheff

Not many people remember this little film from the late ’80s, but I happened to see it in the cinemas when I was a kid. In fact, when my family and I we debating what movie to go see, I wasn’t in the mood for a war film and I was being a brat about it. “If I hear one damn gunshot, I’m leaving the movie,” I told my mother. Well, as sour as I was, the movie turned out to be one of my favorite POW fictional movies ever.

Basically, a retired Marine Colonel, played by Gene Hackman (Runaway Jury), decides to put a private team together to rescue Vietnam War POW’s 10 years after the colonel’s own son went missing in action.

The movie had great heroism and Hackman is obviously great in a leadership role. It also started my interest in actors like Patrick Swayze (Red Dawn), Fred Ward (Road Trip) and a great but not talented actor from the 80s Randall “Tex” Cobb. The cast was great, the story was great especially when the team learns of the colonel’s son. The whole production was exciting and extremely engaging once the team was deployed on its mission. I think despite its production set backs, this set up director Ted Kotcheff (First Blood) as a filmmaker who has always taken great care when working with material regarding the Vietnam War.

I really liked how the mission was fool proof and how everyone had to improvise to achieve his objective. A couple even give up their lives to save the objective and the others in it. The film was a good tribute to the POW/MIA movement despite its dates production value. Moreso than other POW related films like Rambo: First Blood Pt 2 or Missing in Action. There is no way the movie could be left off my Top 5 list.

Read my full review of Uncommon Valor by clicking here.

poster_blackhawkdownNo. 3 – Black Hawk Down (2001)

Directed  by Ridley Scott

This movie was basically an extraction mission which went terribly bad from the word go. It focuses on the story of over 100 soldiers who are sent into Somalia to extract two warlord lieutenants from a highly populated marketplace where American soldiers have no friends.

Black Hawk Down has a ton of name actors like Josh Harnett (Sin City), Ewan McGregor (Moulin Rouge), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), Eric Bana (Troy), Sam Shepard (The Pelican Brief), William Fichtner (The Perfect Storm), Jason Isaacs (The Harry Potter saga), Ron Eldard (Deep Impact), Tom Hardy (The Dark Night Rises), Jeremy Piven (The Kingdom)…I mean the cast is immense and so are the number of characters.

If there’s a fault to the movie, it would have to be the viewer having to keep up with so many characters, and once they have all their gear on and the mission is in full swing, it’s difficult to keep track of who is doing what, who is injured, who is lost, whose black hawk is down, etc.

However, the action is incredibly engaging, credited to director Ridley Scott (Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Martian). The details of the military actions make your feel like you have combat experience by the end of it. Between the action, the heroism and the theme of watching “your brothers” back make this movie easily one of my Top 5 movies involving the U.S. Armed Forces.

poster_bornonfourthjulyNo. 2 – Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Directed by Oliver Stone

I’m not exactly sure if this movie counts as a tribute to U.S. Armed Forces in it’s entirety. However, I think it honors the Vietnam veteran quite well and thus I have included it on my list. The fact that it is such an engaging and well written movie is my its my second favorite among this genre; plus, its one of the best performances from Tom Cruise ever.

Born on the Fourth of July is a lengthy tale of Ron Kovic, an upstate NY competitive Catholic boy who volunteers for the U.S. Marines on the cusp of the Vietnam conflict. There, he experiences the horrors of war, especially that one, and his life after returning from the war, dealing with his PTSD and a nation split divided between wartime supporters and protesters. Eventually, Kovic becomes one of the biggest anti-war advocates and lead a group of disabled veterans who protested/rioted at the Republican National Convention in 1972. He was later invited as a guest speaker to the Democratic National Convention four years later.

Biggest thing I love about this movie is Oliver Stone’s visual work. At home in upstate New York, the entire film is beautiful and vibrant. In Vietnam, things are difficult to make sense, attempting to match Kovic’s experience which led him to accidentally killing a fellow solider with friendly fire. In the care of the VA, things got slow and painful, and when Ron gets back home, things just are dark and not as vibrant. Stone’s choices were masterful and earned him an Academy Award that year for best director. The movie also earned a Best Picture nomination.

What I liked most was, Stone, an outspoken Democrat, used the material to criticize the Vietnam War but at the same time pointed out the senseless and undeserved disrespect Vietnam veterans received for over a decade after they returned home. That’s not easy, and made the film far more balanced than what it could have been.

From the first scene when Cruise’s Kovic was in high school and in a wrestling team dual, he WAS that main character. As his character developed and was influenced by both sides of the conflict back home over the war, Cruise showed amazing ability to present a conflicted character with a great dynamic. His character didn’t blindly yell all the time to express his aggravation. He yelled, he cried, he laughed, he whispered. His performance really ran the gambit. Between Cruise’s performance, a great cast of walk on roles, Stone’s direction and one my favorite music scores from the legendary John Williams, this movie is my second-favorite honoring movies fitting into our theme for this month.

poster_savingryanNo. 1 – Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Directed by Steven Spielberg

This is the one. This is my favorite tribute to U.S. Armed Forces. This is my favorite war film. This is one of my favorites from Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. This is it.

The movie starts with what seems like an endless and brutal demonstration of the first wave of U.S. soldiers attempting to take Normandy Beach in German-occupied France during the second World War for the first 30-40 minutes of screen time. It’s a gut-wrenching, bloody mess of American soldiers dying in a sad variety of nonsense until forces can regroup on the beach and attack the defending Nazis. Once that happens, the movie turns to its actual story of a group of men who attempt to search for one soldier who was lost in country. The story is loosely based on a handful of brothers who were drafted and three of them were killed in action while serving in the same unit.

The best aspect of this movie for me was the variety of characters. The playful mystery behind Tom Hanks’ character Cpt. Miller, the smart mouth from Brooklyn Pvt. Reiben (Edward Burns), Pvt. Mellish the jew (Adam Goldberg), Pvt. Jackson the god gifted sniper (Barry Pepper), T-4 Medic Wade (Giovanni Ribisi) and of course Corporal Upham the translator (Jeremy Davis). Let not forget Tom Sizemore (Paparazzi) and Matt Damon (The Martian) thrown in there as well. Plus a couple little cameos from Ted Dansen (TV’s Cheers), Dennis Farina (Get Shorty) and Paul Giamatti (Lady in the Water). I could keep going. The cast is immense but their characters are equally well crafted by writer Robert Rodat (The Patriot, Thor 2). I don’t think I’ve seen a better ensemble cast prior or since, especially not one in a war movie.

Of course, Spielberg always knows simply the most perfect way to shoot a scene, and this is a perfect example of that. Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) won the Academy Award (his second) and rightfully so with this film, which he dedicated to the memory of his father, also a WWII veteran. The movie, although nominated, didn’t win Best Picture. That honor went to Shakespeare In Love of all things.

The visual effects also was a huge strength recreating the historical look of that war in that region. They went hand in hand with the production design. The only thing I didn’t care for was the bits involving the Abe Lincoln letter. I simply didn’t “get it.” Other than that, you can’t have a better war movie or a better tribute to the men and women whom have served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWII than Saving Private Ryan.

Read my full review of Saving Private Ryan by clicking here.

Of course, since war movies have existed since 1915, it would be nearly impossible to choose only five to use as a tribute to those in service portrayed in them. So, also as usual, below is my list of honorable mentions which didn’t quite make the cut. They are listed in no particular order.

Pearl Harbor (2001)

Maybe its the sappy love story, but for some reason not a whole lot of people liked this movie. But I thought it was epic, exciting and the love triangle story didn’t exactly take away from it because it was peppered with scenes of tension between the U.S. and Japan, leading up to the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. Only a part of the movie was the love story, a part was the actual attack and the last part was the initial retaliation against Japan. It was long but very well shot. The music was fitting and one of my favorite scores in my collection. The acting wasn’t the best, but it was nice to watch Kate Beckinsale (Click) for most of it. The visual effects were amazing during the attack scenes. Other than some melodramatic acting in spots, and a PG-13 rating which took away from the film when compared to Saving Private Ryan, I can’t come up with a reason not to love this movie.

Read my full review of Pearl Harbor by clicking here.

Platoon (1986)

Born on the Fourth of July was the second movie Oliver Stone directed with a story involving the Vietnam War. Platoon was the first, which DID win the Academy Award. Platoon was loosely inspired by Stone’s personal experience with his platoon while serving in Vietnam, and the platoon splinter into two while one group of soldiers stood behind one sergeant and the rest stood behind another when the two officers had a conflict. Stone wrote an original script embellishing the situation to the point of murder, intimidation and war crimes among the platoon told through the eyes of an idealist who volunteered for duty, played by Charlie Sheen (Money Talks). The movie was intense and extremely well shot. If you research how Stone prepared a handful a young Hollywood actors including Johnny Depp and Corey Glover how to look and feel like they’ve been “in country” for months/years, you will see why this film is so real and well made. It’s definitely hard not to include it among my favorites involving the U.S. Armed Forces.

Crimson Tide (1995)

This movie is another stretch when listing movie which tribute Armed Forces men and women. However, since both sides of the conflict involved in this U.S. nuclear submarine action thriller where loyally attempting to do what they thought was the right thing for the country and their loved ones, it shows a prime example of devotion of service. When things get going, and we realize the predicament of the two commanding officers, Crimson Tide is marvelous ride. Director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Unstoppable) put up his best work with this project, as far as I’m concern, and it is one of my favorites from both Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman.

First Blood (1982)

Another great action movie and story of a Vietnam veteran being misunderstood and falls into trouble with local law enforcement. Respect is the theme here, which is no surprise when director Ted Kotcheff is at the helm with material related to the Vietnam War. A drifter is pushed to hard by local law enforcement and he pushes back. Soon even the national guard is after him as he is holed up in a mountain side, trained to disappear and live off the land. That drifter? None other than Sylvester Stallone as John J. Rambo. This kick off to the Rambo saga captured my interest as a kid and it’s never let go. It’s directed well, written well and overcomes its dated production values. Talk about a tribute to veterans with PTSD, this one is exactly that. The scene where Rambo breaks down crying to Colonel Troutman, played by Richard Crenna, is heartbreaking. This piece of action is absolutely worth mentioning among my favorites in this genre.

The Hurt Locker (2008)

This was an independently-made war time movie set in Iraq with a super low budget. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year, but the reason I loved the movie was two fold. One, it showed how war can actually become an addiction for some soldiers. It also shows how those of us at home may never understand that. Two, I LOVED the dynamic between the characters of Sergeant James, Sergeant Sanborn, played by Jeremy Renner (Avengers: Age of Ultron), played by Anthony Mackey (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), and Specialist Elridge, played by Brian Geraghty (TV’s Boardwalk Empire). I believe this was also the first time a female director, Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break), had taken on this genre involving an actual U.S. War. The scene when James finds the eight bombs wired together in the sand was maybe the greatest shot of the entire movie. It was simply intense and extremely effective. Bigelow’s follow up in this genre was Zero Dark Thirty (2012), which I have not seen but would have to do huge things for it to be better than The Hurt Locker.

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