Advertisements

Tag Archive: World War II movies


Review by C.J. Bunce

With costumes designed by Anna B. Sheppard, the designer for Schindler’s List, Band of Brothers, Inglourious Basterds, and Captain America: The First Avenger, you know your World War II movie is in good hands.

The first ninety minutes of Overlord is the stuff of the classic World War II movie.  Think Guns of Navarone or Von Ryan’s Express or a later film, Force 10 From Navarone.  It’s also modern in the way of Inglourious Basterds, but that movie if it had been filmed by John Carpenter, complete with special effects from The Thing and action from They Live.  It also co-stars Kurt Russell’s son Wyatt Russell (also Goldie Hawn’s son) as the tough and confident Corporal Ford, a John Wayne role like he plays like he’s been making movies for 40 years.  If that isn’t enough to go out and get your hands on Overlord, I don’t know what you could want.

It begins with a paratrooper drop, filmed believably, like Memphis Belle, but with the action of Edge of Tomorrow.  The first 40 minutes follows British actor Jovan Adepo as American soldier Private Boyce, a nice, naïve kid drafted recently and dropped into harm’s way behind enemy lines in France the day before D-Day.  Like Starship Troopers and Edge of Tomorrow, this is 100% authentic war, look and feel, and we follow Ford and boyce and their squad from the air on down to the gates of a town where they hide out and plan to blow up a German radio tower.  Despite J.J. Abrams producing this film and hints to the contrary, don’t expect aliens or zombies–this is not a secret Cloverfield 4.  What Boyce, Ford, & Co. find is a lab beneath the tower where the Germans are conducting experiments on the local French villagers and their own men.  It’s here where the story takes a turn for the weird.

The first 90 minutes are brilliant, face-paced, heart-pounding, nail-biting stuff.  Young director Julius Avery and writer Billy Ray pursue the lore of the German experiments toward a the creation of a “superman” or “super soldier” and what that might be like.  To their credit, they approach this like the Korean series Kingdom, which looked to a virus as the creation of a village of zombie-like villagers.  Here Avery and Ray look to twisted science as well, but they add in a bit of a fountain of youth element as part of the creation of these soldiers.  Spoiler:  They don’t all turn out exactly as planned by the Germans.

Continue reading

Advertisements

rocket

Our annual “All the Movies You’ll Want to See…” series has been one of the most viewed of all of our entries at borg.com each year.  So this year we again scoured Hollywood and its publicity machine for as many genre films coming out in 2017 that have been disclosed.  The result is a whopping 58 movies, many you’ll probably want to see in the theater or catch on video (and some you may want to skip).  We bet you’ll find a bunch below you’ve never heard of.  Bookmark this now for your 2017 calendar!

Most coming out in the second half of 2017 don’t even have posters released yet.  We’ve included descriptions and key cast so you can start planning accordingly.

What do we think will be the biggest hits of the year?  How about Star Wars: Episode VIII or Wonder Woman?   Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of 1,000 Planets?  Ghost in the Shell?  Or Beauty and the Beast? 

justice

You’ve heard endlessly about Logan and Justice League, but 2017 will also see numerous other sequels, like Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, and sequels for Underworld, Resident Evil, Planet of the Apes, Pirates of the Caribbean, XXX, John Wick, King Kong, The Fast and the Furious, Cars, The Kingsman, Transformers, Despicable Me.   And The Six Billion Dollar Man is finally on its way.  Look for plenty of Dwayne Johnson, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Zoe Saldana, Hugh Jackman, John Goodman, Michael Peña, Ryan Reynolds, Sofia Boutella, and Elle Fanning in theaters this year.

So wait no further, here are your genre films for 2017:

Continue reading

THE IMITATION GAME

Review by C.J. Bunce

Math?  When am I going to use that in the real world?

Not every mathematician is eccentric like Alan Turing was.  Yet the standout math wizards that make it to the screen have included the likes of math geniuses John Nash (A Beautiful Mind), and Stephen Hawking (The Theory of Everything), making you think a pattern exists–that quirky is a pre-requisite to mathematical genius.  We discussed before here at borg.com Andrew Wiles, the modern-day problem solving genius who solved Fermat’s Theorem.  Wiles seemed teetering on the edge of sanity as he locked himself away to solve a seemingly impossible math riddle, as documented in the brilliant NOVA film, The Proof.

The common tie between Nash, Hawking, and Wiles is the pursuit of the theoretical.  Fermat’s Theorem was merely a puzzle, sitting untouched for hundreds of years with no real-world application.  The average person doesn’t want to take the time to understand the practical significance of math theory, of solving math problems, and theorizing about scientific answers to the many ways we ask the question “why?”  The story of Alan Turing is different, and his story may be a key to spread understanding of what mathematicians can do to a wider reach, as explored in the holiday weekend release The Imitation Game. 

Mark Strong Benedict Cumberbatch

If you’ve studied World War II or seen the Gregory Peck World War II film Twelve O’Clock High, you’ll recall the unrelenting pounding Allied forces were taking in the middle of the war, losing bombers day after day, flying missions with no end in sight to keep up the momentum against Germany.  It was a job that had to succeed–failure was not an option.  While politicians strategized, generals planned raids, and soldiers fought and died, Alan Turing was trying to build a machine that would break the code machine called Enigma that the Nazis were using to communicate.  Hidden in the open, in front of the world, over encrypted radio waves, were instructions between German commanders and field forces on all their movements.  It’s the practical nature of what Turing accomplished that might sell some on the potential relevance of math.  The fact that his “Turing machine” was the predecessor to the modern computer should attract anyone to this fascinating story.

Continue reading

Wind Rises clip

Hayao Miyazaki, along with becoming the well-established premier creator of Japanese animation, has brought Japanese art and culture to American audiences in past decades like no one before him.  His films have expanded what audiences expect when they see animated films, challenging viewers with a balance of the dramatic and the humorous and at the same time offering films that can entertain children as well as adults.  Miyazaki recently announced he was no longer making full-length feature films and his last film, The Wind Rises, comes to theaters in the U.S. in February 2014.

Although most of his work has passed muster with both the box office and critics, Miyazaki has veered from the type of controversial films you might find in other major international directors, using myth and magic as tools to express ideas about relationships and the importance of the natural world.  His new film appears to verge from the norm, as he documents the life of real-life Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi from boyhood to adulthood.  Based on a short story by Japanese poet Hori Tatsuo, The Wind Rises follows Jiro through pre-World War II Japan, the country’s devastating 1923 earthquake, a tuberculosis epidemic, and hard economic times that preceded the war, as Jiro comes to be the creator of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane.  The Zero was one of Japan’s most well-known tools of the war, used in kamikaze operations and its most successful fighting plane, having a kill ratio of 12 to 1 at the height of Japan’s brief period of air superiority.

Wind Rises Jiro Zero

Continue reading

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

Everyone I know who beat me to Captain America: The First Avenger, recommended this movie.  Of all the summer releases, the trailer seemed a bit ho-hum, so I wasn’t in a hurry to see it.  As for the character, I read back issues of Marvel Comics’ Captain America as a kid and liked it.  His nemesis, Red Skull, was always a great villain.  But since the 1960s for some reason Hollywood has trouble making good World War II movies.  Captain America is not only a good comic book movie, it’s a good World War II movie.  Its basic, good story, solidly bridges the real-world comic book hero character from the 1940s with a modern Marvel mythology and the result is a character we’d all be proud to know, successfully played by Chris Evans.

Just like the lack of a good modern Western movie, we haven’t had a lot of modern World War II movies that give us a real sense of time and place.  One interesting recent film that comes to mind is Quentin Tarentino’s over-the-top Inglourious Basterds, a quirky, dark, humorous, revisionist bit about an elite unit trying to take out Hitler.  Next to that, Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie, based on a true story, made for good movie watching, but both of these didn’t re-create the feel you get from tried and true contemporary war films like Captain America does, such as Back to Bataan, Sands of Iwo Jima, The Great Escape, or Stalag 17.  Even giant, modern epic war films like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List–mainly because they cover the darkest periods of the war but also because they seem to have tried too hard—fail to reflect the unswerving patriotism of the “greatest generation.”  As of today, you really have to go back to the often overlooked but brilliant Memphis Belle from 1990 to see a movie that reflects the American spirit that won the war.  Captain America isn’t better than any of those films.  But it is worthy of comparison, and for a film about a comic book superhero to deserve such comparison is a great achievement.

Chris Evans plays Steve Rogers, a skinny everyman, with health issues that result in his “4F” status, meaning he is ineligible for military service.  Subtle state of the art special effects, which would go unnoticed by viewers unfamiliar with Evans more “built” status, show Evans as a puny fellow at first.  (He looks like the star of Superbad and Scott Pilgrim).   He tries five times to make it past the military entrance tests and only on the fifth try does he meet up with an expatriated German scientist played superbly by Stanley Tucci, looking for a few good men as candidates for a “superman” project that only Stan Lee could create.  Here the director lays out a fictional character that borrows from the real lives of soldier heroes Audie Murphy (To Hell and Back) and Gary Cooper in Sergeant York–good, peaceful guys that don’t want to kill anyone, but just want to defend their families from bullies, and end up tougher than the rest.  Captain America, more than anything else, has heart.  For its adapted story to harken back to Frank Capra films but with a more subtle delivery as to his propaganda themes, the writers deserve serious accolades.

   

Several movies come to mind that Captain America borrows from, in ways you want a movie to borrow from great movies of the past.  A siege on a train by Steve Rogers and friend Bucky (Sebastian Stan) has the feel of Von Ryan’s Express, a motley but tough multicultural band of tough fighters is reminiscent of The Dirty Dozen.  And the overall mission to take out evil German organization HYDRA, led by a psychotic Nazi turned into the Red Skull, played perfectly by Hugo Weaving, feels like Guns of Navarone.

   

As superhero movies go its treatment is up there with Watchmen.  As to comic characters coming to life, Captain America is right up there with Chris Evans’ other superhero performance for Marvel as Johnny Storm, the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four.  This Captain America will easily hold his own in next year’s The Avengers among Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, or anyone’s rendition of the Hulk.  Evans showed again, as he did as the star of Cellular, that he is up to the task for leading roles.

Other supporting actors of note include Tommy Lee Jones as a crotchety general cut from the same cloth as Patton.  Neal McDonough (Walking Tall, Minority Report, Star Trek: First Contact, Timeline) comes right off the comic page, maybe more than anyone, as the Scottish, larger than life, handle bar moustached Dum-Dum Dugan.  J.J. Feild plays a British member of the team straight out of Bridge on the River Kwai.  Kenneth Choi and Derek Luke are refreshing additions, showing a Japanese- and African-American taking the fight to the Nazis.  The film does its best to avoid a standard romantic subplot, but for those that need it, Hayley Atwell fills the part well (but why again we have another superhero story needing a European-accented leading woman makes no sense to me; she’s an American officer after all).

With all the new composers on the scene this summer, it is also welcome to have a tried and true master like Alan Silvestri (Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future, Predator, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Abyss, Forrest Gump, Eraser, The Mummy Returns, Van Helsing, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra) with a lively musical score.  Along with the music, the costume design was dead on, and the art and set design was great–including creating futuristic machines of the day that seemed to be derived from World War II airplane engines and parts.

As for the villains, Weaving’s Red Skull and Peter Lorre-inspired Doctor Zola, played by Toby Jones, are the perfect villains we love to hate, straight out of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  For taking a tough sell and turning it into a good story–a 1940s era comic book character with a loud supersuit and trash can-shaped shield, putting him in a modern comic book universe, staying true to the mythos, appealing to a modern audience’s scrutiny, for filling a theater a month after its release, and making us care about the character’s plight–Captain America:  The First Avenger gets 4.5 of 5 stars.

Captain America: The First Avenger is in theaters.