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Flags of Our Fathers (SE)
DVD disk
May 25, 2007 By: Scott Weinberg
Flags of Our Fathers (SE) order
Director:
Clint Eastwood

Actors:
Ryan Phillippe
Adam Beach
Jesse Bradford

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
We all know the photograph of the U.S. Marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima ... but what do we actually know ABOUT those Marines?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
At this point in his career, I doubt that Clint Eastwood could make a bad movie if he tried. The guy's a master filmmaker in every sense of the term, so if his most recent effort is just a little less ... stellar ... than what we've come to expect from the director of UNFORGIVEN and MILLION DOLLAR BABY, then surely the guy's earned the benefit of the doubt by now. Plus it's not like FLAGS is anywhere near a BAD movie. It's just a little too obvious and dry for a filmmaker of Eastwood's caliber. It's as if he was trying so hard to honor and respect the fallen soldiers that he somehow forgot to paint the movie versions with more than one brush-stroke.

The film uses a clever framing device that brings us back and forth from the Battle of Iwo Jima to the post-war "bond tour" that turned three normal Joe soldiers into instant celebrities from coast to coast. But how does one go from watching his friends get killed in combat to climbing on top of a stage to help "sell" the war to the average citizen? These are the themes that Eastwood and his A-plus screenwriters (William Broyles and Paul Haggis) explores throughout the film. The guilt, the misery, the sacrifice. It's just that the lead characters (as well-played by Adam Beach, Ryan Phillippe, and Jesse Bradford) seem barely more than one-dimensional.

Intended as a companion piece to Eastwood's LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, the film si half a war movie and half a completely different type of tragedy. If things get a bit too rah-rah here and "black and white" there, those are relatively minor complaints. Based on the book by James Bradley, FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS is a fine, if unspectacular, piece of historical drama. Best of all, it serves to remind the younger folks that we used to fight our wars for very noble causes.

THE EXTRAS
The FLAGS DVD from a few months back was an entirely "bare bones" affair, but this new 2-discer (hitting shelves alongside LETTERS) boasts some pretty excellent supplemental material.

Clint Eastwood provides a 6-minute introduction to the film, and then we're off to featurette country. "Words on the Page" (17:02) offers interview segments with author James Bradley and screenwriters William Broyles and Paul Haggis. "Six Brave Men" (19:51) focuses on the specific Marines (three of whom never returned from Iwo Jima) as their Hollywood counterparts (Beach, Phillippe, Bradford, etc.) share their (very respectful) thoughts on the project. "The Making of an Epic" (30:12) is the main course, focusing on the project as a whole and packed with lots of on-set video and cast/crew interviews.

"Raising the Flag" (3:26) focuses (quickly) on the cinematic re-creation of that famous photo opportunity. "Visual Effects" (14:55) focuses on, what else?, the powerful special effects used to re-create the ridiculously intense WWII sequences. "Looking Into the Past" (9:26) offers some old-school newsreel perspective on the movie you just watched. Great inclusion. Rounding out this handsome 2-disc set is the film's original theatrical trailer.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
A pretty darn good, but not completely great, war movie that pays overdue homage to the WWII veterans who never made it home.
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