Midway: A Tribute To Those Lost

Midway is a historical epic directed by Roland Emmerich. The plot retells the monumental battle of Midway during WW2 and shows the sacrifice of all involved.

Normally I would stay away from this kind of film because it is usually a toned-down form of propaganda. It normally is very quick to say X country is great and X country is bad and leave out any nuance and grey area. An great example of what I am talking about can be seen when the Japanese commanders are having a meeting and one says something to the extent of what have we done we have awoken a sleeping giant and it is almost cringey in its pro American stance, I highly doubt the Japanese would have said such a thing. Though the film does slip several times into this cringey form of very forced feeling patriotism being projected on a world audience it for the most part the film doesn’t do it.

That said I enjoyed the epic feel of this film very much, I am not going to lie I had given up on Emmerich as a director after his last few efforts, but this gave me pause. I truly believe that this film manages to capture the sight and the scale of such an endeavour and treats the events with the hollowed reverence they deserve; in that vain I enjoyed the final shot of the film and the closing message.

The acting was all very strong, Ed Skein was a very believable leading man, I am genuinely surprised that he hasn’t had more leading roles as he has proven himself to be a very strong actor. However, the standout of the cast to me has to be Alexander Ludwig, though his on screen appearance is very short he gives a very strong emotional performance that will hit you like a sack of bricks.

Pro.

Treating the subject matter with respect

The performances

Especially Skein, Ludwig and Wilson

The grand scale of it all

Cons.

The raar raar cringey patriotism

4/5

Reviewed by Luke       

Da 5 Bloods: Never Forget

Da 5 Bloods is a war epic directed by Spike Lee. The plot sees a group of Vietnam Veterans return to the country to find some gold they stashed away years earlier, as well as to find the body of their lost comrade and bring him home.

Before I get into it all I just want to say this is an incredibly powerful film on multiple different levels, especially in the current climate. Some of the points raised in the film hit very close to home and will affect you. I recommend taking some time at the end of the film to just sit and think about it, there is a lot to unpack.

The main foursome is made up of Paul (Delroy Lindo), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Otis (Clarke Peters), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr). Each man gives a stellar performance and the chemistry between the four goes past believable to enthralling. You can genuinely see them all being old army buddies.

I think Paul is the most layered and interesting character of the group as he is a broken man. He highlights the effects of war that stay with a person long after the fighting has ended; he sees visons of his dead best friend and squad leader that haunt him. Also the dynamic between him and his son David (Jonathan Majors), is very nuanced and well developed.

This comes very close to being a perfect film, however there is one thing that drags it back: the fourth wall breaking. There are a couple of scenes towards the end of the film where Paul talks directly to the camera and recites a monologue to us the audience, the issue with these scenes is that they break the flow of the film. They take us out of the action and feel oddly jarring.

Overall, a masterpiece with only a few slight faults. A must watch.

Pros.

The themes.

The characters.

The bonds.

The impact.

Cons.

Addressing the audience.

4.5./5

Reviewed by Luke   

1917: Tick Tock

‘1917’ is an epic war film directed by Sam Mendes. The plot revolves around 2 British soldiers who go on a desperate mission to call off a British attack on the German line, after it is revealed to be a trap, set during WW1.

In many ways this film reminded me of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’. Despite being about different wars and different locations ‘1917’ had that same level of tension as well as being underpinned by a keen sense of futility, as it seems almost impossible the 2 soldiers will make it there in time to stop the advance.

‘1917’ shows the horrors of war and really plays them up to great effect, we see this when Schofield (George MacKay), meets Lauri (Claire Duburcq), a woman who is living in a bombed-out hovel with a baby that is not hers. The thing that makes this scene so tense is that if the baby doesn’t get milk it will die, fortunately Schofield has some, but it makes you think if  he hadn’t come along that Baby would have died and there is nothing Lauri could have done about it.

Another ballsy thing this film does that I think makes it worthy of praise is the decision to kill off one of its main characters early and with very little warning. The 2 soldiers who venture out are Schofield and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), but Blake just gets killed seemingly out of nowhere very early into the film. There is a bit in the film where both men are running through a collapsing German trench but emerge okay, at this point it seems as though ‘1917’ will flirt with the idea of these men dying, but it won’t actually go there. Then mere moments later a German Plane crashes and the pilot stabs Blake while Schofield has his back turned. It is that quick. There is no fanfare when Blake dies, no him soldiering on for a few more scenes, or a heroic self-sacrifice; he just dies very quickly in Schofield’s arms- this sets the tone for the film.

My one complaint about this film, the thing that stops me giving it a perfect score, is the fact that it wastes some of its larger cast. Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Benedict Cumberbatch are all in this film, but their parts are so small it makes you wonder why they were even cast at all. I think it would have been better if these actors were either given more to do, a la Tom Hardy in ‘Dunkirk’, or if they were played by unknown actors as seeing these big names pop-up for what feels like glorified cameos feels distracting.

Overall, a fantastic war film that doesn’t pull any punches, it is clear to see why this is up for Best Picture at the Oscars. Mostly Marvelous.

Pros.

Great Leads.

Ballsy Shocking Decisions In Storytelling.

A Sense Of Dread And Futility.

An Ever-Present Ticking Clock.

Cons.

Wastes Some Of It’s Bigger Stars.

4/5

Reviewed By Luke

Jojo Rabbit: A Film Like No Other

‘Jojo Rabbit’ is a comedy-drama film about a young boy called Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), in Nazi Germany who has an imaginary friend. His imaginary friend is non-other than the infamous tyrant Adolph Hitler (Taika Waititi). When one day Jojo finds Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), a young Jewish girl living in his attic and, his life is turned upside down. The film is based on the book ‘Caging Skies’ by Christine Leunens.

Jojo worships Hitler, though it is portrayed more like he is brainwashed, and he dreams of being the perfect German Nazi. However, as the film progress, we learn that Jojo isn’t a monster, rather he is a young boy who wants to belong and, is deeply naive.

However, where this film could have been very dark, it is played for laughs at every turn; with Waititi’s signature blend of humour. This is best shown in the relationship between Jojo and Hitler, Hitler himself is basically a big kid and, likes playing silly games with Jojo; who is often the more mature of the two. This film takes all the lies and, propaganda about Hitler, that paint him as a mythical being and laughs at each one, making them the butt of the joke.

The relationships that Jojo forms with both Elsa, as well as with his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), are both moving and well done. With his relationship with Elsa, you can see Jojo realise more and more that his worldview is incredibly false as he grows to care for her. They look out for each other and, the familial bond they develop is quite touching. However, the scene-stealer in this film is Johansson she plays both the loving mother, as well as someone who is fighting against tyranny really well. When she dies, it is both abrupt and heartbreaking; reflective of the horrors of war.

Another thing this film does so well is it shows the humanity on both sides of the war as it humanises some of the Nazi characters. We should all hate Captain Klenzendorf as he is a Nazi officer but, the film goes for a more nuanced approach and, shows him help to save Jojo and Elsa on two separate occasions, making him far more layered than other Nazi characters previously in cinema.

Overall this is a beautiful film about love and learning to be a better person. It doesn’t paint in absolute of good and bad, rather it serves to try and show the best in everyone and, have a good laugh at the absurdness of the whole situation.

Pros.
The Message.
The Acting.
The Humor.
Johansson’s Performance.

Cons.
This Isn’t Going To Be Everyone’s Cup Of Tea.

5/5

Reviewed by Luke