I reviewed over 80 movies in 2017 and naturally at this stage most of them were not good. Basically, I have seen a vast majority of the good war movies, which leaves a lot of the bottom dwellers to be endured. It’s amazing that after seven years, there are still so many war movies I want to see. Fortunately, some on my “to be watched” are supposed to be good. Here are the worst war movies I reviewed this past year:
5. Ironclad: Battle for the Blood (2014) - This is the sequel to the guilty pleasure “Ironclad” which had James Purlfoy. This movie does not. Is that a clue as to whether it would be worse than the original? If you like frenetic blood splattering, you might enjoy it. In one of the fights, a guy kills another with a severed arm! For the rest of us non-psychopaths, it is terrible and headache-inducing.
4. Beyond Valkyrie - You know what they say about sequels. It’s especially true when the sequel has one percent of the budget of the original. Needless to say the plot is ridiculous and the acting is atrocious. It’s a Tom Sizemore movie, ‘nuff said. There is a copious expenditure of ammo if you like that sort of thing. Not enough to drown out the dialogue, however.
3. Dad’s Army (2016) - I am not British, so I am not required to love “Dad’s Army”. The movie was based on the much beloved series. I think even fans of the series had to admit the movie was a bomb. The acting is terrible and the production is shoddy. The movie plot is silly, but not silly funny like you would expect from the British. I am a big fan of British comedy, but this movie did not make me laugh even once. But then again, I watched the supposed best episode of the series and did not find it special. I’ll stick with “Allo! Allo!”
2. USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage - Another Sizemore movie. And it stars Nick Cage. If that is not enough to a bad vibe, then enjoy this movie. Even the sharks are bad actors. Robert Shaw’s character in “Jaws” would have been more traumatized by being in this movie than actually being on the Indianapolis. Prepare to laugh guiltily.
1. “The Red and the White” is a joint Russian-Hungarian project to commemorate the Russian Revolution. Director Miklos Jansco decided to jump two years to the Russian Civil War and not make a celebratory film. The fact that he survived that decision tells you that the Soviet government was not as evil as thought. The resulting film met critical acclaim in the West, but its negative portrayal of its topic did not sit well in the Soviet Union. It was reedited to make it more heroic for Soviet audiences. I must have seen the original version.
The movie is set in 1919 on one of the twenty-one fronts of the Russian Civil War. A unit of Hungarian volunteers are fighting on the side of the Bolsheviks (the Reds) versus the anti-communist Whites. It opens with a slo-mo cavalry charge at the camera. The cavalry are chasing two foot soldiers and catch and kill one. In an ominous development from the perspective of this viewer, they don’t bother to get the other guy even though they can clearly see him. This will not be the last head-scratching moment. Here are some others. The cavalry strip some prisoners and tell them to run home. The White leader chooses three and shoots them in the back. Then the remainder are chased and lined up and shot. Next, some nurses are taken into the woods and suddenly they have dress gowns on and there is a military band. They are forced to dance with each other and… then they are told to go. I assume there is some symbolism here. A prisoner is forced to sing and then told to jump in a river and is speared. Lots of aimless walking. Some stuff happens at a hospital. Finally, the big battle scene. The Hungarians charges a larger unit, then runs back, then makes a suicide attack. Well, it was either them or me because at this point if the movie had not ended I might have slashed my wrists.
“The Red and the White” is an “emperor’s new clothes” movie. In other words, it’s a movie that critics insist is a masterpiece and if you don’t get that than you are a moron. Well, I may be a moron, but I have seen enough good war movies to know a piece of shit when I see one. It is not a single piece, but a steaming pile. And I don’t say this because I was hoping for a heroic take on the Bolsheviks. I think Jansco was trying to depict the insanity of war. Or rather, that must have been his excuse when he faced all the WTF looks from the opening night audience. Why did I shoot some of the deaths of main characters from a far distance? Because war is confusing! Why did the nurses dance in the woods? If you have to ask, you don’t deserve to know! Was the movie meant to be a comedy? I don’t know, what do you think? Seriously, do you have any idea what I was trying to do? Help me understand my own movie, please.
The movie does have some strengths. The cinematography is showy, really artsy-fartsy. Jansco loves long shots. And he films from an airplane! Awards please. Another strength is it is one of the funniest war films I have seen. I actually laughed out loud at some parts. Sorry, highbrows. I couldn’t help myself. But most importantly, it lasts only 90 minutes. Trust me, it seems like many more.
If you want to learn more about the Russian Civil War, read a book. Don’t watch this movie. There are some good movies that can inform you that war is fucked up. Try “The Burmese Harp”, which came out the same year. Hell, if you want to watch a entertainingly confusing war film from that year, try “Beach Red”. At least you can decipher what Cornel Wilde was trying to do.
GRADE = F-