I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Hacksaw Ridge

HACKSAW RIDGE is a twisted, uninhabitable mass of rock with a steep edge and riddled with secret caves, one of which is home to 2×4-carrying WWF legend “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. But there is no movie about that so until then we’ll have to make do with director Mel Gibson (APOCALYPTO)’s identically titled HACKSAW RIDGE, the best-picture-nominated movie based on the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN), the only WWII Medal of Honor recipient who was a conscientious objector. See, he wanted to do his part to fight Hitler, but he didn’t believe in killing or even touching a gun, so he went as a medic and was really fucking good at saving people’s lives. A reverse AMERICAN SNIPER.

I wonder if he traveled through time if he would kill Baby Hitler, or just try to give first aid to other babies fighting against Baby Hitler? It really makes you think.

The first half or so is before he goes to war. We see him as a little shit, constantly running and climbing and getting in violent scraps with his brother Hal, with no intervention from his drunk asshole dad (Hugo Weaving, BABE), a WWI veteran. Desmond could easily turn into the town bully, but maybe it’s his intense devotion to the family’s Ten Commandments poster that ensures he’s a big dork by the time he grows into Garfield. On one INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE style conveniently fateful day he discovers the two other loves of his life, because he 1) rushes to heroic action in administering a tourniquet and getting an injured person to a hospital where 2) he spots a beautiful nurse (Teresa Palmer, POINT BREAK remake) and decides he will marry her.

But not until his first furlough, because shortly after successfully wooing her he announces that he has to enlist.

We get all the usual tropes of the war movie: the gung ho older brother who signed up first, the parents who worry about his safety but he won’t be swayed because it’s his duty, the group of grunts with their quirks and home towns and nicknames, the getting singled out by the cruel drill sergeant Howell (Vince Vaugh, PSYCHO), the grueling training without true understanding of how much worse the actual combat will be, etc.

But this familiarity is the spoonful of sugar to get down a critique of standard notions of masculinity. Doss looks like a kid wearing a grownup helmet, and he’s surrounded by nothing but broad-shouldered, square-jawed men who look like the painted covers of WWII pulp magazines. For example there’s Hollywood Zane (Luke Pegler, SEE NO EVIL), who sports a Clark Gable haircut and mustache with a bodybuilder physique; he’s introduced naked doing pull-ups. And then this slim, big-headed dork comes in and refuses to even touch a rifle during training. This brings him scorn and disbelief from Sergeant Howell and Captain Glover (Sam Worthington, AVATAR) as well as beatings from his fellow soldiers.

There’s a powerful moment when Howell finds him bloodied and seems to now feel sorry for him, giving him the ol’ “It’s nothing to be ashamed of” pep talk as he assumes he’ll be leaving. But to everyone’s surprise Doss does not quit or snitch on his tormentors.

It’s Smitty (Luke Bracey, POINT BREAK remake) who comes down on him hardest, picking a fight and taunting him about “turning the other cheek” without seeming to register just how fucking badass that is. “Yes, you hit me. Let me offer you seconds.” He’ll understand once they go into combat with the nearly impossible task of taking over a steep ridge where others have been massacred before them, climbing up and retreating six times in a row. They never forget how crazy it is for Doss to insist on running into a hellhole with no weapons just to help the injured. But they start to understand how brave it is.

This being a Mel Gibson directorial work, you can be sure it vividly illustrates that old adage that “war is hell.” They must’ve done alot of research into all the horrible things that can happen to a body in war. But you still never get used to the sudden PING!s as holes appear in helmets and spring geysers of blood, the piles of intestines, the bones protruding from legs, the masses of shredded meat hanging from stumps, the people flipping through the air on fire.

Those scenes are brutally effective, but we’ve seen that sort of thing done to perfection in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and other great WWII movies. What is completely unique about this one is that it’s a guy trying to rack up rescues, not body counts. He’s running through the maelstrom tying up bloody appendages, administering morphine injections, carrying people on his shoulders, ignoring pleas to leave people behind. In the climax of the movie the troops retreat but he stays behind finding survivor after survivor and lowering them down the cliff. He even tries to help some Japanese soldiers.

As JARHEAD pointed out, even the most anti-war films inevitably make war seem cool to some viewers. I think AMERICAN SNIPER is way more complex than most people give it credit for, but of course many will watch it and think it’s awesome how many “bad guys” our boy shot. HACKSAW RIDGE is not an anti-war film, but it’s an extreme depiction of the ugliness of violence juxtaposed against the glorification of a pacifist, a healer. Doss is a conscientious objector who has to fight for the legal right to serve, then survive harassment and bullying for his beliefs, and then faces a much more difficult task than the other soldiers, but achieves far beyond what anyone believes possible, after the others have already given up.

It’s a very satisfying underdog story, seeing the soldiers’ eyes go from hatred to worship. They start to go out of their way to honor his different religious beliefs. The soldier who gets the task of going back to find his Bible in the war zone acts like it’s the greatest honor of his life. And I guess I should’ve seen it coming but I found it very moving when Smitty volunteered to go with Doss on a mission and the two camp out together for a night and become buddies.

This is probly a really good one for strong Christians who are okay with gory war movies, but I don’t feel it’s religiously preachy. Since Doss’s convictions are all about being good to people, not moral judgment, they can easily be equated to other religions or secular codes of honor. But I was only half joking with my Baby Hitler comment before. There are some difficult questions there: if he’s against killing under any circumstances, how can he support a war, even one this just? I’m not sure how his principles are helping in this situation. Even so, it’s very inspiring to see him staying true to his beliefs against great adversity. It’s hard to imagine the bravery of just holding his head high through boot camp, let alone his extraordinary acts during combat.

I knew the Seventh Day Adventists, or at least some of them, were vegetarians, and really late in the movie this is mentioned. He’s probly been getting food he couldn’t eat all this time and not complaining to anyone! I’m not religious, but I stopped eating meat 25 years ago. I’ve never mentioned that here partly because people alot of people get weirdly up in arms when they know that about you. As soon as you say you’re a vegetarian they assume that you’re judging them for whatever they eat. Trust me, I am not judging you and I doubt Doss is either. But I wanted to bring it up this one time because I can’t think of another non-mocking vegetarianism reference in a movie. So I appreciate it.

There are some ways that the movie (written by Robert Schenkkan [The Pacific, also an actor in PUMP UP THE VOLUME] and Andrew Knight [THE WATER DIVINER]) is clunky, some awkward telling-when-they-should-be-showing moments. When Doss, speaking passionately about his duty to sacrifice as much as others, describes people from his home town committing suicide because they couldn’t enlist, I couldn’t help but think it would’ve been more interesting to delve into that in the first half than to show him getting a girlfriend. I don’t think it’s as unqualified an artistic success as certain people consider APOCALYPTO or BRAVEHEART to be, so I was surprised it was considered good enough to overcome Gibson’s persona-non-grata status in Hollywood. He can barely get a release for GET THE GRINGO or BLOOD FATHER but all the sudden he has best picture and even best director nominations! It’s weird.

But I kind of get it too, because the movie has really stuck in my mind since taking a ferry to see it a couple weeks ago (the closest theater playing it was on a small island). The central theme of sticking to your principles is powerful, and there are other ways that it’s surprisingly nuanced. One example: Doss’s father (a great performance by Weaving) is an abusive alcoholic who terrorizes his whole family, almost to the point of tragedy. But we also see his constant pain over all the friends he lost in the war, and that he’s capable of going the extra mile to help his son. It’s a very human portrait, a bad person with good or sympathetic qualities. Which I guess is a good thing to have in a movie by a director/actor whose work I love despite being suspicious of him because of disgusting things he’s said and done over the years.

If he’s a bad person, at least he put HACKSAW RIDGE into the world.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017 at 9:56 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews, War. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

56 Responses to “Hacksaw Ridge”

  1. Great review!

    I’ve seen people say the first half is too sentimental – but for me it makes sense an idealistic person like Doss would have an stubbornly idealistic worldview. In his position you would need to think that really. We get the grit later and it helps us understand why he was fighting for a place that’d treated him pretty bad. It’s not as apple pie as the guardian, for example, was saying.

    Like vern points out they layer nuance onto something that seems simple – like the abuse, and the way poor people are limited in what they can aspire to be. Rare i think to see a portrait of the US like this that gives short shrift to the american dream…

    shouldn’t win best pic, but makes me want to see what mel does next!

  2. So “Vern” is short for “VEgetaRiaN”?

  3. Clint Eastwood is a vegetarian so don’t let anyone give you any crap about it.

  4. Self-indulgent trivia following – It was pretty cool seeing a lot of my local landmarks in this film. The Newington Armory where the boot camp scenes were shot is in the middle of Sydney Olympic Park, which I drive past every morning on the way to work. The Richmond Regent cinema is one of the few old-timey cinemas left in Sydney, used for the dating scenes early in the film. The coolest thing though was my sons girlfiend’s entire street in Riverstone, which contain all pre-WW2 homes, was used for the scenes at the Doss family home.

    I thought the film was pretty good. Not Mel’s best directortorial effort (that would be BRAVEHEART, followed by THE PASSION then APOCALYPTO), but it’s good that he’s back and putting his mad energy into being creative again. HR reminded me a bit of Woo’s WINDTALKERS, both heavy on moral issues and sentiment but powerfully effective in brutality.

    For a second I thought Mel had gone too far on the gore, when a soldier used a limbless torso as a shield to cut through the battlefield. It was surreal and disturbing, but ultimately effective for capturing the abattoir carnage of battle.

  5. Good for you, Vern. I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch, but I do try to choose non-meat options whenever possible, but that’s become a lot harder since I moved to the burbs and even the salads all have bacon in them. My main thing is that it pisses me off that corporations that abuse animals and pump the populace full of harmful shit get to make billions, so I try not to give those assholes my money. I believe in voting with my dollars, so I support organic and/or vegetarian companies whenever possible.

    TL;DR:

    Boogie Down Productions - Beef

    Edutainment ©1990 Jive/RCA Records

  6. As for this movie, I liked it. Mel is the only director I’ll let get away with that mawkish shit at the beginning, because I know he’s just trying to get me to let my guard down so he can sucker punch me in the second act. Normally, he does it with farts and/or amateur carpentry, but he chose Norman Rockwellian romance this time and it worked almost as well. It’s probably what tricked the Academy into thinking a movie where a guy uses a severed torso as a riot shield while he machine-guns an entire squad of enemy soldiers is Oscar bait. I’m sure LA LA LAND is great and all but you’re not gonna find some shit like that in there.

  7. I’ve always had a passing interests and dabbled in vegetarianism for the past few years but recent health issues forced me to go full-on vegan. So y’know, fun times!

    This movie is kind of what people, supposedly James Cameron himself, say about TITANIC: You have to sit through a whole bunch of bullshit to get to good stuff. Well I really like the whole of TITANIC but this one I felt the ‘prelude’ to the good shit was kind of hard to sit through at times. But like a good action picture (and sometimes horror), all that is moot when the climax starts up.

  8. I liked this movie, but I’m not sure I liked it in the way that it was intended. Once the film moves past the “aw, shucks” hokiness of the first half, the extreme violence of the war scenes are when the film, ironically, finally finds some life. Maybe I’ve just been desensitized by a decade of post-SAVING-PRIVATE-RYAN grisly war scenes, but I found the experience of watching these cartoonish war-film archetypes exploding into fountains of gore way more enjoyable than I guess I was supposed to. With all the carefully photographed blood spurts, shredded bodies as human shields and severed limbs flipping through the air, I get the feeling that Mad Mel is enjoying himself way too much. And he should, because he’s really good at it, but it makes for a film where all of Mel’s usual obsessions (heroism, religion, self-sacrifice, extreme violence) are jostling uncomfortably next to each other and pulling in a bunch of different directions. It’s definitely a film that only Mad Mel could have made.

  9. Dabble is a funny word, because it implies that you have meddled with unholy forces, like black magic or something.

  10. Been vegetarian for 21 years now, vegan for two or three of those. It’s a fucking luxury to be able to pick and choose what you do or don’t eat so you won’t be hearing me talk reckless about anyone else’s dietary choices or necessities anytime ever.

    Having said that —

    Missed this in the theatres so I’m waiting for the Blu-ray to drop (and my current dire financial situation to sort itself the fuck out) but I was kinda amazed at how many of my friends placed this one super high on their Best of… lists last year. One friend in particular, and movies like this are usually anathema to her, saw it three times in the theatres and said it was by far the best thing she’d seen in 2016. No idea how I’m going to feel about it when I eventually get to check it out but it seems as though a lot of people have had a really, really strongly positive reaction to this one.

  11. Oops!

  12. If this doesn’t work fuck it I was just tryna link to a Dead prez cut sorry everybody

  13. I liked this movie, even the somewhat hokey first part. I’ll admit that I have a certain romanticized view of mid-century, small town, Andy Griffith Americana. And even as an atheist, it was pretty easy to relate to Doss’s religiously inspired pacifism.

    The story itself is so incredible that I think it makes up for some of the mawkish stuff. And there were some scenes early on when the filmatism was a bit amateurish. The use of green screen when Doss and his brother were on top of that hill was really distracting. But by the end of the film, I was surprised by how the film emotionally snuck up on me.

  14. Vern, I hope you review SILENCE. It’s another sticking-to-your-religious principles through horrifying shit movie, also starring Garfield. I thought it was the best movie of 2016 and would love to get your take.

  15. I found I had issues with Doss, philosophically if you like. He was clearly a remarkable person, and the Hacksaw Ridge story is incredible and worth telling, but I found myself wondering whether he would have saved any fewer lives had he been carrying a pistol. He’s only ever the most technical of pacifists – I thought specifically of the scene where (mild SPOILER) he literally holds an enemy soldier still so someone else can shoot him. That’s just morally equivalent to Doss killing him in every way except Doss’s own view.

    That said, I enjoyed it. Good performances, especially from Hugo Weaving. It’s basically just a pretty effective ‘regular’ war movie that happens to have an extreme pacifist (of sorts) in the middle and some gore directed by Mel Gibson, and I think it’s easy to overestimate how good it is because of the subject matter, but yeah. It’s a good one.

    Actually the thing I was probably most disappointed with was Vince Vaughn as the drill sergeant. The character had a bunch of great drill sergeanty lines that I didn’t think he delivered very well.

  16. I usually hate it when people call out movies based on true events for altering or condensing or flat-out fictionalizing what really happened, but reading some facts after the movie I was struck by one interesting change. In the film (if I’m remembering correctly) young Desmond steps in to stop his drunk father from killing his mother. Actually it was a fight between his father and uncle: Desmond’s dad pulled a gun, and it was his mother stepping in that stopped him from shooting his own brother (she then gave the gun to Doss and told him to hide it). Apparently the incident made a strong impression on Desmond and put him on the path towards peaceful solutions to violence.

    I think that’s something we’re never going to get from a Mel Gibson movie: a positive female figure. Mel sees women in a very traditional way – they’re the victim whose death must be avenged or the lovestruck princess or the lass in danger of drowning in a well or an eyebrow-less Italian Satan. Even if the female lead is a strong single mom, she’ll end up falsely accusing Mel Gibson of molesting her son. I guess I don’t know why I’d expect anything different – I always want to give Mel the benefit of the doubt, despite issues in his personal life – but the narratives of his movies like this one actually lend themselves to it. Why does Doss, who we’re going to see a shitload of bravery from by the end of the movie, have to be the one to save the mom rather than be inspired by her? Anyway, small thing that I appreciate in some of the Mel-starring movies (like Erin Moriarty as his tough daughter trying to make up for her poor choices in BLOOD FATHER) that I wish we’d see in his directorial efforts.

  17. I have a feeling this was the link Mixalot wanted…

    Dead Prez - be healthy

    It's all love . . . I don't eat no meat, no dairy, no sweets only ripe vegetables, fresh fruit and whole wheat I'm from the old school, my household smell li...

  18. Vern, you should check out the documentary about Doss called THE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. I saw it a few months before HACKSAW RIDGE came out and so I was kinda underwhelmed by the film (although Hugo Weaving was great).

    The documentary goes into the more badass shit Doss did which apparently was too unbelievable for the movie I guess? Frankly I would have loved to see Andrew Garfield use a fucking rifle stock to splint his own broken arm after getting shot. The real story behind Doss’s buddies retrieving his Bible is way more emotionally satisfying and I was surprised it was such a non-moment in the film. They actually de-Hollywooded the thing too much for my tastes, while going way overboard in other areas.

    It was a decent film, but the documentary is much better in my opinion.

  19. I also found it odd that they showed footage of the actual Captain Glover at the end of the film talking about how Doss saved his life when the film never shows such a thing happening.

  20. I was thinking about that. I think Doss pushed him away from the grenade at the end.

  21. caruso_stalker217

    February 24th, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    It’s possible. If I recall the actual event went down more like the Vince Vaughn scene, though with less action movie heroics.

    I’m also surprised they didn’t include something else that actually happened when Doss found himself in a position to drop a grenade on some Japanese soldiers and had a personal moral struggle moment.

  22. I can see why they didn’t have him save the captain that way. That’s one of those details that sounds so phony and Hollywood (like how Doss got off the stretcher after getting grenades because he thought someone else needed it more and then getting shot and still not getting back on the damn stretcher) that you’d need a disclaimer running across the bottom of the screen, PAIN & GAIN style, remind everybody that, yes, this actually happened. It’s a step too far, even if it’s real. It’s like in writing workshop when the author of a piece would inevitably point out that the detail we all found the least believable was the one that really happened. We’d all remind that person that unless he was planning on sitting next to every individual reader and informing them of that backstory, it didn’t really matter. Fiction needs to be believable. Life doesn’t.

  23. Thank you, Subtlety. Not exactly sure where the breakdown in communication kept existing for me between “copy” and “paste” that day but I’m glad one of us was able to help soothe the savage beast.

  24. just saw Dunkirk and i’ll be the first asshole on here to say that I didn’t really like it all that much and was actually bored and/or annoyed by most of it. wish i’d gone to see the cartoon apes movie instead.

  25. Is this where I’m supposed to quiz you on whether or not you saw it in 70MM IMAX and if not I’m supposed to tell you that’s WHY you didn’t enjoy it and you may as well have watched it on your phone?
    -I’m seeing it in 70MM but it wont be on an IMAX screen so I’m only half seeing it the way Nolan wants me to.

  26. geoffreyjar – yeah pretty much. because i saw it in the standard theatrical 4k dcp presentation that was available to me (Nolan’s fourth-place preferred choice of engagement, with blu-ray, iPhone and Netflix bringing up the rear in that order) i was only able to enjoy it a quarter of the amount that i could/should have. thank the heavens that was also the format i saw FURY ROAD in because i’m not sure i could have survived enjoying that one four times as much as i did.

  27. You saw it in d.. d.. DIGITAL!?!?!?! *spits in disgusts*

    -I don’t know if you saw that documentary Keanu Reeves made about celluloid vs digital but Nolan is interviewed in there and he ends up coming across as a total ass-hat snob. He compares shooting on film to getting a baker’s hand-made cookie (real) to shooting on digital as getting a Chips-A-Hoy instead (fake). No he really makes that comparison and says digital only gives a momentary satisfaction and then you realize that it’s only chemicals and is disgusting.

    –I feel the need to say that over all I like Nolan’s movies and his only movie that I didn’t really dig was INTERSTELLER (I kinda enjoyed it in theaters but upon a second re-watch at home I learned I didn’t really like it, it was about as dumb as THE DARK KNIGHT RISES but much more boring and none of the highlights of that one, still looks great though) and I look forward to seeing DUNKIRK tomorrow (though mostly because this will only be the second 70MM presentation I’ve ever seen, the AMC ONLY pulls that sucker out for these marketing stunts like with HATEFUL EIGHT).

  28. I appreciate the old graininess of film as much as anybody, but film fetishists can fuck right off. It doesn’t make a movie any better or worse. I took a special trip into the city to see the fucking 70mm HATEFUL EIGHT roadshow. Biggest waste of money of my movie-going career. You can barely tell that the movie is any wider than a normal anamorphic movie, but hey, it’s mildly impressive for like five minutes. Then you get over it and you’re stuck with the movie itself, which should be able to be enjoyed on angular movie screen, on TV, or even, yes, on your fucking phone. It’s the same with 3D, IMAX, etc. Shit, most of the movies we all love here were primarily known to us for two decades as shitty pan-and-scan VHS transfers, and we loved them anyway. Great movies–hell, even good ones–can withstand anything. If you need your movie to be seen in some special format to get the full effect, your movie sucks.

  29. *”angular” = “a regular”

  30. Also:

    “Hey, low-budget filmmakers who are finally getting a chance to fulfill your dreams because of the advent of affordable digital technology, I just want you to know that your work is inherently garbage.”–millionaire filmmaker Christopher Nolan

  31. geoffreyjar – SIDE BY SIDE was a great and really interesting documentary but i don’t subscribe to the sort of binary (sorry) film v digital: dawn of pixels mentality that a lot of its subjects / other maniacs with opinions on the debate seem to anchor themselves to. both formats have their benefits and weaknesses. but it does start to get under my nails a little when filmmakers with access to these cost-prohibitive materials (large format, IMAX, even 35mm at this point) act as though anyone who doesn’t use them is doing so by choice and not financial or logistical necessity or, worse yet, that their work is quantifiably inferior simply due to the medium it was captured on.

    kind of reminds me of that SOUND CITY documentary where Dave Grohl goes in on the use of digital sound production and recording over an analogue alternative without seeming to consider that the analogue alternative is often simply too cost prohibitive for many artists out there who are just trying to drop a fucking record and not bankrupt themselves in the process.

    what any of this has to do with HACKSAW RIDGE is anyone’s guess.

  32. Majestyk – beat me to it haha

  33. Also also, it’s hilarious that he described digital movies as “only chemicals” when film is a chemical process. Literally all you’re seeing is a chemical reaction trapped on a piece of celluloid.

  34. i will say this for the undesirable digital theatrical presentation of DUNKIRK that i was forced to endure, it at the very least maintained a consistent 2:40:1 aspect ratio throughout. the same cannot be said for the ratio-assaulting miasma that was TRANSFORMER5: ABOUT LAST KNIGHT (link to vern’s review in the description).

  35. I’m still hopeful for DUNKIRK, and that’s coming from this site’s most vocal Nolan-basher. From the trailers, it looks like it might be his first movie since, I dunno, ever (?) which is just trying to tell a straightforward story, and not to blow your fucking mind with how puzzling the puzzlebox is. There is no aspect of filmmaking in which Nolan has not been overpraised, but I think his genuinely good work with actors and smart scenebuilding/editing often gets overlooked in favor of his moronic ambition. I think I’d really enjoy a movie where he settled down and foregrounded those strengths, format be damned.

  36. Mr. Subtlety – abandon all hope where the lack of puzzleboxes are concerned my friend because in my opinion DUNKIRK is his worst offender yet.

  37. and by “worst” i mean “most incongruous and gimicky and unnecessary”.

  38. i won’t veer into details or spoilers of course but DUNKIRK is an absolute fucking structural mess and one of the major reasons for this is that Nolan seems incapable of shedding his preoccupations with perfecting non-linear, time-dilating storytelling (which, between MEMENTO and INCEPTION, in my opinion he already nailed) and instead just telling a decent fucking story that earns its narrative and emotional beats without resorting to parlour tricks and sleight of hand to make a (perceived) impact. which he is completely capable of doing by the way (see all of his movies for isolated examples of this, including INTERSTELLAR which i honestly think that i kind of hate).

    i will never shit on an artist for chasing an ideal because the pursuit is a beautiful thing (and Nolan is certainly still captain of his particular Pequod no doubt) but honestly, where most critics are falling over backwards praising DUNKIRK as though it’s the culmination of Nolan’s trajectory as a filmmaker, i saw it as a film begging to be let out to play by a guy too busy measuring the dimensions of his yard to realise that the film he has chained up back there is biting its fucking fur off to dig up some daisies.

  39. Mr. S: Did you see Nolan’s movie projected digitally? ‘Cause that might be why you didn’t fully like them. *okay I’m done now*

    Mr. M: We recently got two Dolby Atmos screens down here and other than the reclining seats, I can do without the awesome speakers that are designed to make you go death in both ears (besides we have a theater right by house that installed reserved seats and recliners in all theaters and not just the fancy one(s). Now a days I only go to 3D showings if the thing was filmed in 3D and ditto for IMAX, unless it was filmed with the damned cameras I’m saving my money (thus me dropping the big bucks and see TRANSFORMERS MEET THE LAST KNIGHT in LIMAX 3D (we don’t have an IMAX anymore and even if we did they wouldn’t play ‘real’ movies anyways). Luckily I had a better experience seeing HATEFUL EIGHT in 70MM (twice) than you did your one time.

    Mr. M and Mix: I’ll throw my hat into the celluloid vs digital debate. When we got our first digital projector down here it looked like shit but got better real fast. Now everyone down here is digital-only (like just about everywhere else I imagine). Not too long ago I went to see a few 35MM showings at the local 100+ year old single-screen theater and BATMAN (1989) cut off before the climax because they didn’t realize their print was damaged. Their print for a few others where in a pretty dire state and that stopped it being a selling point for me (for that theater at least) because the whole time I was kinda wishing they just did their usual thing of playing the Blu-ray instead so I wouldn’t be distracted by how terrible this dude’s personal print collection is in. So what I’m saying is, I fail to believe anyone at any of those screenings legit left saying they are so glad they got experience these classics in 35 instead of a nice pristine DCP or Blu-ray copy.

    Mix: You saying you feel Nolan is going full-Mallick?

  40. Part 2 of my over-rated filmmaker with absolutely obnoxious double-feature of day (first one was BABY DRIVER) I saw DUNKIRK in 70MM (but not IMAX so I can only half appreciate it). I liked it way more Mix but damn.. I pretty much agree with everything he says. At least in regards to the editorial structure. I think a great ‘pure’ war movie is in there but because he decided to be cute with the story-structure, it becomes only good.

    The people saying it’s a masterpiece be tripping.

  41. *obnoxious fanbase

  42. Last one for here: DUNKIRK, more like DUMBKIRK!* Amiright Mix?

    *I don’t actually think the movie is dumb, only it’s editing and structure.

  43. It sounds like it’s this year’s THE REVENANT: an objectively impressive film that kinda shoots itself in the dick.

  44. Yup.

  45. I have no interest in seeing DUNKIRK in theaters, it just doesn’t look interesting enough to me, if I do watch it it’ll be on DIGITAL blu ray, ha!

  46. Geoffreyjar, I literally said that exact line “more like Dumbkirk, amirite” to my colleagues but didn’t have the balls to put it in print! Bravo!

    I also thought of suggesting the sequel Dunkirk 2: Hardly ‘Kirkin’ but thought better of it. Soldiers didn’t die in battle for me to make those stupid jokes.

  47. The anti-Nolan sentiment of a lot of the above comments is silly but not unexpected. I can remember way back when how ridiculous the comments under Vern’s Dark Knight review were. There’s something about Nolan’s work, or at least how much other people like Nolan’s work, that makes otherwise reasonable people nuts. (I can totally empathize with this, because there’s something about JJ Abram’s work and how much people like it that makes me the same way.)

    Not counting his first movie about a thief that I think maybe 10 people have seen, I personally think Nolan’s misfired once (Interstellar) and that’s it. Everything else is good-to-great-to-awesome. I think comparisons to Terrence Mallick and Alejandro González Iñárritu are off-base. Based on some of his interviews and some of his quotes (like the one Zack Snyder relayed about post-credit scenes), Nolan might personally as aloof and pretentious as those examples, but his movies (again, excepting Interstellar) are not.

  48. People always gotta bash what’s popular and be contrarians these days, I can guarantee you if this was the early 80s people would be saying “this Spielberg guy is overrated” ad nauseum.

  49. I agree with Griff.

  50. yeah that must be it. it must be a case of people being contrarian assholes just for the sake of it and not having anything to do with the actual legitimate issues they have with some of the choices he makes in his films which they can then articulate and defend using specific examples of his work as evidence to support their concerns, while also praising the creative choices / entire feature length motion pictures he is the architect of when they work for them the way they believe he intended them to.

    that must be it.

  51. Nolan lost me with INCEPTION and I seriously doubt I’d give anything else by him a chance. Life is too short to waste it on directors I find one note and pretentious regardless of how technically competent they may be. I only watched TDKR cause it’s Batman truth be told. I avoided INTERSTELLAR like the plague.

    There is no fun or charm to his filmatic madness like say David Lynch. It all comes across so cold and highly smug and I can’t quite shake it. Except for THE PRESTIGE, THE PRESTIGE was almost perfect in it’s grounded earnestness. For once he seemed concerned with just telling a story. As was THE DARK KNIGHT but for the most part fuck that guy. Sorry not sorry and all that jazz.

  52. There’s definitely an element of contrarianism in a lot of the Nolan backlash. Not so different from the backlash to most very popular things. And some of Nolan’s past film are so popular, and I guess his some of his fans are so vocal, that what by all rights should just be “that didn’t work for me” becomes “actually, fuck this” in protest.

  53. As stated I liked DUNKIRK. I also liked THE FOLLOWING and INSOMNIA and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. I really liked BATMAN BEGINS and THE PRESTIGE and INCEPTION (I might move INCEPTION to loved upon a rewatch actually). I loved MEMENTO and THE DARK KNIGHT. I enjoyed INTERSTELLER when I saw it in theaters though I had issues (as I did with DKR) but upon rewatch I learned that such issues where now deal-breakers, though I am still very much a fan of the movie’s craftsmanship.

    As for my ‘over-rated director’ comment, I stand by it. I find him a very good director with a very unique visual eye especially in this day and age of digital. That said all this talk of him being Neo-Kubrick, greatest living director, etc. I simply disagree. I also 100% stand by my comment that his fanbase is obnoxious. Not the most obnoxious but they give it a really good go to become number-one though. I think my prior paragraph shows that I fancy myself a fan of his and look forward to his work. I accidentally give lots of reasons for people to believe I am a contrarian but I believe I stated my position on this one in a manner that I simply disagree with his artistic choice in regards to how he chose to tell the story. Despite that, I’m still kinda glad he took the chance. We don’t get innovation and interesting stuff without visionary artists taking a chance.

  54. “I simply disagree with his artistic choice in regards to how he chose to tell the story. Despite that, I’m still kinda glad he took the chance. We don’t get innovation and interesting stuff without visionary artists taking a chance.”

    Wow geoff that’s exactly how I feel about INCEPTION. Can’t stand that picture at all but I’m glad he managed to even get it out there in the first place. We need more idiosyncratic originality in big movies regardless of whether I personally enjoy the end product or not and he seems one of the only ones left who is still allowed that privilege. Kudos for the eloquence.

  55. Broddie: Coming from you, that’s an honor and a huge compliment. If I can now one day get one of those from Mr. S and Mr. M I can feel I have achieved commenter-bliss and e-die happy. Thanks for that it legit makes me feel better about myself!

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