“Saving Private Ryan”

FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “Saving Private Ryan” stars Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies, Captain Phillips), Tom Sizemore (Black Hawk Down, Strange Days), Edward Burns (Man on a Ledge, She’s the One), Barry Pepper (True Grit [2010], The Green Mile), Adam Goldberg (A Beautiful Mind, Dazed and Confused), Giovanni Ribisi (Boiler Room, Avatar), Jeremy Davies (Lost [TV series], Solaris), Vin Diesel (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fast and the Furious), Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting, The Bourne Identity), Ted Danson (Cheers [TV series], 3 Men and a Baby), and Paul Giamatti (12 Years a Slave, Sideways). It is directed by Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Schindler’s List) and written by Robert Rodat (Thor: The Dark World, The Patriot). In the middle of World War II, members of the Second Ranger Batallion under Captain Miller (Hanks) are tasked to retrieve a Private Ryan (Damon) and return him home when the U.S. Army Chief of Staff finds out all three of his siblings were recently killed in action.

If there’s one movie I’m recommended constantly (or given the old “you haven’t seen it!?” adage), it’s “Saving Private Ryan.” Spielberg’s next claim to fame after winning over the Academy with “The Color Purple” and “Schindler’s List,” this film takes the World War II genre and gives it a run for its money, offering captivating set pieces, jaw-dropping brutality, and a bittersweet story of war, it’s consequences, and doing what’s right. I’ve tried to temper my expectations, given how they can lead to disappointment, but I will say that the audience is right: “Saving Private Ryan” is an filmmaking achievement, if one is to dissect the war genre and what has been done in the past. Let’s talk about what Spielberg did right. For starters, the cinematography is just astounding. The opening sequence on Omaha Beach has to go down as one of the best scenes in film history. It’s unforgiving, raw, and encapsulates what our soldiers went through in that travesty of a time. Men who served in the war who saw the movie even said that it was the closest interpretation to what really happened on that battlefield, giving major credit to Mr. Spielberg for conquering such a feat. It’s there that we meet our slew of characters, all of which are performed by Hollywood notables, led by Tom Hanks. I couldn’t tell you how many familiar faces I saw, even when it boiled down to cameo roles. Vin Diesel, Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson; some of these people weren’t even big before this flick came out, and it was exciting to see them in the same room with the leads, those of which include Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Giovanni Ribisi, and Jeremy Davies. It’s as if everyone was coming together because they knew this was a project that had to be brought to life (and the sure-fire way to make it big when it came to working on a Spielberg project). Everyone did great and that’s no surprise. You know what else was awesome? The score, which was composed by none other than John Williams. We all know the guy, so there isn’t much to say. All I can tell you is, while it features instruments and patterns that may seem familiar, they are still so lovable, and propel this movie to the emotional peak it’s supposed to get to. As for the story, it’s solid. The rescue mission of one man just so his mother doesn’t have to lose all four children to the war (having lost three already), brings about more questions you would think, mainly surrounding the idea of morality. What is it worth to save this one guy? To bring him home when so many others have mothers waiting for them? I was intrigued by this concept, and thought it served well as the core to this feature. Of course, the surrounding arcs mainly concerned the cost/consequences of warfare, and what these men had to go through on the battlegrounds in Japan and Europe. Spielberg did it so eloquently; it’s poignant in the fact that it doesn’t glorify death or war. When people were shot in the chest, they died instantly. No final monologues, no final push. I would say it’s the best aspect of the picture in that it shows just how quick someone can die in these circumstances; how life can be taken away in an instant and you have nothing to do but scurry around. Man, was this a pill to swallow. Granted, it’s a rather straightforward story. Getting from point A to point B, while learning a bit about the characters along the way. Most of our characters serve the theme more so than themselves. They fit in a certain personality a specific soldier would have: the leader, the peace-keeper, the rebel. It’s not like it was difficult figuring them out, but the theme is strong enough to keep you captivated. That, and the terrific performances, as I have stated before. I wouldn’t regard this as Spielberg’s best feature. Why? It’s hard to explain. If anyone were to ask me what’s wrong with it, I would say “it just isn’t perfect.” Maybe this boils down to how I wanted to focus on the characters more, rather than their situation. It’s more so a wish list item than a con, but it’s the best I can offer when it comes to explaining why it doesn’t get a perfect score. Regardless of what I try to get it down to, “Saving Private Ryan” is a wonderful picture both artistically and technically. If you ever come across it, I say check it out. FINAL SCORE: 96%= Juicy Popcorn

This movie has been inducted into The Juicy Hall of Fame.

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Saving Private Ryan”

  1. Pingback: August Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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