Dec 11, 2003

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The Bottom Line These Are 10 Of The Best Military Movies.

These are difficult times in America, and around the world. I am truly saddened by the continuing tragedies in the Middle East. I pray for the safety of all the troops in harms way, American and all others involved.

However, a good military movie is always entertaining. (Sad as that fact may be.)


Here are my Top 10:

In no particular order...

Saving Private Ryan - This 1998 film, by Steven Spielberg, was simply amazing. It was a ground breaking movie that not only set the standard for film-making but more specifically war movies. The action is vivid, gory, and very, very realistic. Tom Hanks, and a great cast, give amazing performances.

Black Hawk Down - A very interesting movie about a recent conflict - the battle of Mogadishu. The book is far better of course but the movie is certainly entertaining, and sad. Reporter Mark Bowden put together an extremely realistic view of the Battle of Mogadishu a battle best forgotten if you're a part of the DoD. It is a personal look at the situation, although the movie doesn't focus as much on the Somalians view as the book does. It is still a very moving film. Great action, funny pieces, and lots of gore.

Enemy At The Gates - This is World War II from a Russian point-of-view. This is the true story of Vassili Zaitsev, a Russian sniper credited with over 140 kills during the Battle of Stalingrad. This battle was actually one of Germany's worst failures they lost tens of thousands as casualties and tens of thousands more as POWs. Jud Law and Ed Harris both perform admirably in this film. Rachel Weisz does pretty well herself, some of the...um...views of her aren't bad either...(*ahem*) Two amazing snipers are pitted against one another in a duel to the death.

We Were Soldiers - Vietnam via the 10th Cavalry Division. I felt Mel Gibson did a really good job in this film, a great comeback after What Women Want. Gibson plays Lt. Colonel Harold Moore (later Lt. General Moore [Ret.]) in the la Drang during Vietnam. This battle lasted over one month. It was adapted to film from the book by Moore. Very touching, full of action, great acting all around.

Platoon - A classic. Platoon is about the Vietnam Conflict. Although made in the mid-80's Platoon is one of my most favorite war movies. This was Oliver Stone's breakthrough film that gained him much attention. Tom Berenger, Willim Dafoe, Charlie Sheen, Forest Whitaker, and others put on a fantastic performance in this brutally realistic view of the war. It was good enough for 4 Oscars...

Behind Enemy Lines - A movie about those Flyboy pansies...actually this is a really good movie starring Owen Wilson. Gene Hackman is also a lead in this movie and he gives a good performance. A Navy pilot is shot down over enemy territory. This is a story of survival - evading the enemy at all costs. Wilson does a great job. This movie was at times very intense.

The Last Samurai - Ken Watanabe and Tom Cruise bring a great amount of acting skill to the screen...I haven't been this touched by a movie in a long time. I really think this is a truly great film. It's 1876 and Nathan Algren (Cruise) has been asked to train a Japanese military in modern warfare. Algren is a troubled veteran of the civil war and battles with Native Americans. During a battle between the newly trained Japanese military and the old samurai (who are now considered rebels) Algren is captured. Katsumoto (Watanabe) is the leader of the samurai and spares Algrens life. The two learn much from each other. Eventually, Algren is drawn to the simple, disciplined, spiritual, and powerful ways of the samurai - becoming close to one himself. Go see the movie! It's great acting and directing the whole way through. It's a very touching film.

Gettysburg - Three days in the summer of 1863, at a place called Gettysburg. this film takes a refreshingly slow, thorough approach to the intricacies of battle. In ordinary circumstances, those intricacies might seem of importance only to fans of military strategy or Civil War enthusiasts, yet in Gettysburg they come across as the very stuff of life, death, and unexpected heroism. If the film has a problem, it's that it climaxes too early: the first long segment, detailing the struggle of a "civilian soldier," Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (Jeff Daniels), to hold his ground against long odds, is an enthralling piece of moviemaking.

Three Kings - A small group of American soldiers decide to go on an adventure after discovering an "Iraqi A$$ Map." It leads to a stash of gold Saddam's army stole from Kuwait. The soldiers lead by George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube want that gold. But along the way, the American's come across some difficult circumstances that give them an opportunity to do some good along the way. This is a funny movie, despite it's overall serious setting.

Braveheart - Going way back, Braveheart deals will William Wallace's desire to free his country from the tyranny of England. William Wallace inspired hundreds of thousands of Scottish people to fight against England so that they could have control of their country once again. This movie is based upon the real life of William Wallace. Another Mel Gibson performance, one of yet another high caliber. Braveheart has some amazing battle scenes but also some heartwarming scenes as well.


More Greats:

The Patriot - The Revolutionary War is the setting for this movie. Another historical piece, focusing on the early years of America and yet another performance by Mel Gibson. The movie was most interesting when it was focused on Gibson's character, I think Heath Ledger got too much attention in the film. That's mainly because he was the new "hunk" of the day and girls wanted to see him. In any case, the movie has some funny parts, some touching moments - pretty much everything you would expect from an epic film.

Full Metal Jacket - The classic military movie, depicting the worst truths about life in Marine Boot Camp. This movie is set during the Vietnam conflict. The film begins at Paris Island and goes from there sharing with us a frightening and hilarious view of boot camp. Private Pyle is always around for a good laugh. Poor kid.

Schindler's List - A portrayal of the most depressing part of World War II. Steven Spielberg earned his first Oscar with this amazingly horrid yet touching film which mainly retells the story of Jewish prison camp interns during World War II. This movie was done entirely in black and white which really makes it seem more authentic. The message is powerful and very moving.

Honorable Mentions:
- The Green Berets
- Patton
- Tora! Tora! Tora!
- Rambo
- Windtalkers
- U-571
- Dances With Wolves
- Robin Hood: Men In Tights (haha! J/K!)

Final Comments:

Some of these movies glorify war and military life a little too much but overall these are all outstanding movies. I enjoy watching them all (except Robin Hood: Men In Tights). I was really impressed, recently, with The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Even though the storyline was similar to Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai was a much more powerful film, far more emotion. I had difficulty seeing Tom Cruise as an 1870's soldier. He didn't quite look the part though he played it amazingly! I hope you've seen some of the films mentioned here, if not you're really missing out! Seriously!

Thanks For Reading!
Pray For Our Troops Safe & Swift Return Home!

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