I'm not a huge fan of war films to begin with, and in particular, right now, I'm even less a fan of a film that glorifies or romanticizes war in any way, because people might use it as ammunition to justify the current Iraq War.
However, based on the good reviews, I was looking forward to FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS. Unfortunately, I don't think the film lives up to the hype.
First off, is there some law now that war scenes must be shot to look like the opening of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN? I know Spielberg produced the film, but can't we use a different look?
The film is definitely a departure for Clint Eastwood. It uses a much bigger canvas than most of his films. Don't get me wrong, there are some great scenes, especially about the American Indian character. But there were a lot of narrative problems. The basic story (about the subjects of the famous Iwo Jima flag raising photo) is almost too simple to sustain a 2 1/2 hour film; yet somehow, the flashback structure makes the characters and storyline so blurry that it's hard to tell what's going on. In particular, the third act feels jumpy and unfulfilled.
I will say this, it's the best "big sound" job I've heard this year. Kudos to everyone involved with the sound design. And one of the reasons the sound worked was the fact the Clint laid off the heavy-handed score during the battle scenes. He let the sound play the scene, which made it feel more real. Unfortunately, the scenes that he does score later on feel melancholic and manipulative because of his music.
I think there was a good movie somewhere in there, too bad it didn't show up on the screen.