“Men Go to Battle” is an independent film by Zachary Treitz. It was made with a very low budget and earned less than $18,000. Considering the look of the production, it may have actually made a profit. The movie gained some good reviews from critics.
The movie is basically a character study of two brothers who live in Kentucky during the Civil War. Francis (Tom Morton) is the optimist and Henry (David Maloney) is the pessimist. They live alone in a shack and are dirt farmers who are not good at farming. They like to prank each other. Their attendance at a party makes it clear that they are lower class individuals, but well-liked. When Henry kisses an upper class belle, she runs off crying. “I didn’t want you to be my first kiss.” Ouch! Henry runs off to join the Union Army. The movie concentrates on his experiences and gives a minor dose of soldier life as portrayed by reenactors.
“Men Go to Battle” is one of those WTFWTCT movies. As in what the fuck were the critics thinking?” I have seen some amateurish movies in my time, but this one takes the cake. I would not have been surprised to find that it was written by high schoolers and was filmed by a parent watching the production from a seat in the auditorium. Actually, it appears to have been filmed by Trietz himself using a hand-held camera. This may impress critics, but an entire movie of the main characters either walking toward the camera or away from it does not make for entertaining cinema. And filming night scenes by candlelight because you can’t afford the lighting is not that impressive to me. It just makes for a dark movie. Speaking of low budget, the movie has no soundtrack. Another thing Treitz could not afford, I suppose. The movie is simple in every way. The exact opposite of a blockbuster. And also unlike a blockbuster, nothing happens. Although technically a war movie, there is little action. This is a bit surprising since Treitz had access to quite a few reenactors. Why not take your hand-held camera and film the reenactment of a battle? Because he was making a character study. A character study of two boring characters that nothing much happens to. How do you set a movie in war-torn Kentucky and not have any drama?
It is hard to hate “Men Go to Battle”. After all, I did not pay money to be the only person in the theater to see it. It is more a movie to be pitied. As much as I am in favor of increasing the quantity of war movies in this modern age, I still insist on some quality. At least with the worst of the straight-to-DVD combat porn movies, you get some adrenalin flow.
GRADE = D-