Category Archives: Movies

Saints and Soldiers

Complete Score: 25 / 42 = 60%

A while back when I was forced to break my addiction to Generation Kill, I stumbled onto Hulu.com and saw a World War II movie by the name of Saints and Soldiers. It looked intriguing enough so I clicked through to the movie’s page. Once there, the positive reviews and comparisons to Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan hooked me in.

The film follows a few American soldiers who are captured by the Germans but escape during a shoot-out. While hiding out in a cabin they hear some chatter about a downed airplane and go off looking for the pilot. They find a British soldier caught in a tree who tells them he has some very, very, very important information to pass along to command central. So the group of Allies sets off to cross enemy lines and inform their counterparts.

Right off the bat, the film immerses you into the time period with a radio broadcast describing the aforementioned massacre. The film keeps you immersed with soldiers who look the part with weapons that look straight out of a Medal of Honor or Call of Duty video game. In other words, the weapons look real, the soldiers look real and the film has a 1940’s feel. At the end of the film we see that the producers used WWII re-enactors to play the roles of many of the soldiers and it shows in the authentic feel of the film.

Saints and Soldiers

The actual actors do a good job too and are believable as WWII era soldiers. The camaraderie between the group feels a bit forced, though this group did come together spontaneously so it shouldn’t feel as though they’ve been together for too long. One of the reviewers on hulu.com where I watched the film (for the low cost of about 5-6 minutes of commercials) mentioned the stereotype of the characters, where the four corners of the USA are represented and the fact that the French people in the movie are woman and children while the British soldier needs constant rescuing. To a certain extent it is true, however it does not ruin the movie.

The comparisons to Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan are off. Saints and Soldiers is a nice film with some cool action sequences but it is in no way great. It’s an entertaining movie, but you’ll have to suspend your belief as this rag tag group of 4-5 soldiers fights off tons and tons of German soldiers.

Towards the end of the film it does get a bit too preachy, especially for a war movie but it’s still a solid way to spend an hour and a half, especially if you watch it streaming via Hulu.

Value

I viewed the film at Hulu for the cost of enduring a few commercials. It was a decent way to pass the time, though I personally would not purchase nor rent the film. Plus, the film was apparently shot for under $1 million so it’s a good value for everyone involved.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Quality

It’s good enough to draw you in and pass the time but it’s certainly not going to win any awards. The look of the film, however, is very well done and looks quite authentic.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Innovation

Nothing new here. If you enjoy authentic World War II films you’ll like but not love this one.

Score: 1 / 5

Social Benefit

There’s some social commentary between the Mormon sniper and the atheist medic on the perils of war, but it’ honestly nothing we haven’t heard before. War is bad. If this movie was powerful enough to convince us to stop fighting it would get a good score here, but in the end it’s just a film and is not going to change the world. +.5 points for streaming it for free via Hulu though.

Score: 3 / 5

Freestyle!

The movie gets big points for being streamed for free on Hulu and its use of WWII reenactors to fill out the supporting cast.

Score: 14 / 22

Complete Score: 25 / 42 = 60%

Watch Saints and Soldiers for free below (you can enable full-screen after the commercials):

Equilibrium: Better than The Matrix?

Complete Score: 32.5 / 42 = 77.4%

In 2002 a film was released to test audiences with a significant amount of positive reaction from movie going crowds, although critics mostly rated the movie as mediocre. At this point the marketing geniuses at Dimension decided to release the film with little promotion and only to a select few theaters. Of course the movie tanked, thus re-affirming the view of critics and seemingly supporting the marketers’ perspective that the film sucked and wasn’t worth distributing to the general public (who, again, actually liked the film).

Clerics look for sense offenders who choose to risk it all and feel!

The film is Equilibrium (though those aforementioned marketing geniuses very nearly released it as “The Cleric”) and it’s dystopian futuristic setting oozes detail while it’s storyline hints at very deep philosophical currents. Written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, the movie stars Christian Bale as a cleric who begins to question his role and his reality, Taye Diggs, the ever loyal to the fascist regime douchbag extraordinaire, Emily Watson, as the love interest of not just one but two characters (scandalous!), and Sean Pertwee as the big brother figure, known as Father in the film’s city state setting of Libria.

The world finally experienced World War Three and citizens around the world gave up their rights to liberty and reality for peace. After the war it was determined that humanity itself was to blame for the ills and dangers of humanity, thus a huge movement was started to basically sedate our emotions. To the characters in the movie, the secluded world of Libria is all they know and everything beyond the Librian walls is uncivilized and dangerous. Clerics, the elite police force of the government, patrol the wild environment outside of Libria looking for sense offenders who choose to risk it all and feel!

Value

As of the date of this review, the film is available on Amazon.com for under $10. Considering it’s worth at least two views, the value of this movie is quite good. It’s not the best of movies, but it’s certainly worth $10 and will entertain you at least once. The action scenes are worth the price of admission here, so even if you find the story a bit campy the action is tight!

Score: 4/ 5

Quality

The action scenes are great, some of the best I’ve seen! The movie revolves around a new form of martial arts that includes guns, called Gun Kata. Clerics are the grand masters of Gun Kata and work for the government tracking down sense offenders, who are people who’ve stopped taking their daily soma-esque treatment and instead experience the world naturally, with emotions! The storyline is a bit campy but it’s viewable a few times before the camp really sets in.

The artistic vision for this film is perfect and really immerses you in the dystopian, authoritarian future of the story. Even today, six years after the film was made I’m still awed by some of the special effects and imagery of the film. The filmmakers spent just enough time showing off the environment to give you a feel for the city without taking too much time away from the story. The writing in the film isn’t great but is good enough to keep the film flowing. The real stars here are Libria and Gun Kata.

Score: 4 / 5

Equilibrium's imagery is splendid.
Equilibrium's imagery is splendid.

Innovation

OK, so first time viewers of this movie will find a lot of similarities to The Matrix, but with it’s use of Gun Kata (yes, I’m a big fan of the Clerics’ fighting style) and focus on emotional control it breaks enough new ground that it’s not just another science fiction film but with gun karate. Still, it borrows heavily from 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World. Books are burned, along with any other material that might induce human emotion such as paintings and music. Characters are turned into walking robots while Big Father is promoted as knowing all and being the ideal role model. It’s not the most original story but if you’re going to borrow ideas and mash them up these are three phenomenal sources to use so Equilibrium gets a small pass here.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Social Benefit

It is a movie, which means whether or not you buy a disc the disc exists and will exist longer than any of us so it has a negative aspect there. Movie production is a big, big process that uses a lot of energy during all stages of the movie, from production to distribution to viewing. Still, if people see this movie and are inspired to go read 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 or question authority or their own reality, then it’s worth it. We need more movies like Equilibrium and The Matrix and less Dane Cook romantic comedies.

Score: 3 / 5

Gun Kata is wicked cool.
Gun Kata is wicked cool.

Freestyle!

I’m a big, big fan of this movie and have seen it enough times to have progressed from getting annoyed by the campy bits, to growing to love the cheese. Once you’ve seen this film as many times as I have, you start picking out parts that don’t quite make sense. Everyone in the film, except the sense offenders, is supposed to not feel emotion, yet the Clerics and police force do show anger and paranoia. Perhaps it’s meant to show that we cannot eliminate all emotion, and that those last emotions to go are the very ones that supposedly caused World War III and all the other violent acts of human history. To eliminate the worst of the human experience is to in essence neuter us.

Without the range of emotions, can we still be classified as humans? There are multiple points in the movie where it seems characters are only pretending to be robots, for instance the older woman we see enjoy the feel of a steel rail against her hands or the revolution that lives in the under world of Libria with all their raw emotions flowing. Ironically enough, the government in the film takes such a zealous approach to wiping out violence that they become an extremely violent force themselves. Of course, the movie hints that the leaders, particularly Father, are aware of this duality and purposely act on it.

Equilibrium hints at deep existential questions but leaves enough out there for the viewer to take and run with and question further. It’s much more of a science fiction action film than anything else and the action sequences are outstanding. They still impress me every time I view the film, which counts into double digits by now. Equilibrium is not better than The Matrix, though some fight scenes do match up well with and even surpass those found in The Matrix. The storyline in The Matrix, however, is more original and deeper. Still Equilibrium is a great film and excellent in its dreary depiction of the dystopian Libria and its unique Gun Kata martial arts.

Score: 18 / 22

Equilibrium is available on DVD at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Complete Score: 32.5 / 42 = 77.4%

Slacker Uprising: No More Michael Moore

Complete Score: 4 / 42 = 9.5%

On September 23rd, Michael Moore released his latest film for free via internet streams and downloads. Further, he’s given blanket permission for people to do whatever they wish with the film, even sell it for profit. Having just watched the documentary, it’s apparent why he’s giving it away for free, Slacker Uprising is fracking awful. Moore proclaims on the film’s website that “…you can charge admission or ask for a donation if it’s to raise money for a candidate, a voter drive, or for any non-profit or educational purpose. In other words — it’s yours!”

Well, Michael Moore, I don’t want it, please keep it the hell away from me. Never before have I wished for the Men in Black memory erasing device as much as I do now. If only Michael Moore’s blanket open permission allowed me to remove this film from the universe.

Value

Well, it is free. If you are uber-bored and desperately want to see moving pictures on a screen for an hour and a half, please don’t watch this film. I recommend anything from hulu or just watching your screen-saver instead. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, give this film a shot, it knocked me out a few times.

There’s no educational value, no activism and no investigation of voter fraud or election corruption. This film holds little value outside of its free distribution methods.

Score: 1 / 5

Quality

It’s the first time I’ve awarded a product a zero in any category on OTIBR and Slacker Uprising deserves every piece of that null value. Please, do not get the wrong impression, I am by no means a Republican. Nor am I a Democrat. I’m registered as an independent and plan on voting for Ralph Nader. I am not opposed to the political views expressed in the movie, it’s zero score is purely because this documentary is just plain bad. I went in expecting a look at the voter fraud occurring during the 2004 elections and instead got a lot of Michael Moore encouraging others to do stuff while other people spread the gospel of Michael Moore and his awesomeness. We get it Michael, other celebrities think you’re cool and you desperately need to show the world their validation of you.

Michael Moore thinks Michael Moore is #1
Michael Moore thinks Michael Moore is #1

When the film isn’t celebrating Michael Moore, it’s hating on George W. Bush. Look, I hate George W. Bush as much as any other self respecting liberal leaning independent, but this film is simply too much. Over and over and over Moore and others bash Bush but offer little to no praise of Kerry or any other Democrat. There’s no real alternatives mentioned. No one discusses how to fix the country or how to convince Republicans to switch their vote or anything besides a lot of Bush bashing and a lot of promoting the great hype that the Democrats are not the Republicans.

Moore shows a lot of appreciation for the armed forces in this movie, but who does not appreciate what our soldiers do for us? I for one have a great difficulty seeing myself in uniform and immensely appreciate that we have people volunteer for what amounts to one of the toughest jobs on this planet so that we don’t have to. I would have loved to seen a movie all about the troops and their opposition to the war. This film does not do so, but rather skims the issue. Our troops rock, Slacker Uprising does not.

Score: 0 / 5

Innovation

A new level of awful. One point for inventing a documentary so bad, so self-loving that it’s not worth the price of free. In all sincerity, Moore deserves a little bit of credit for releasing his move for free streaming and via download online. He’s not the first person to release a movie for free but he’s one of the biggest. Hopefully it starts a new trend amongst artists who are already financially set and wish to give back to their fans and society.

Score: 2 / 5

Social Benefit

I’ll give Michael Moore credit where he deserves it. While filming this documentary, he did get people excited to vote and helped register voters. But, by the same token, George W. Bush’s terrible presidency also encouraged people to register and vote so we can’t give either party too much credit.

Michael Moore's Biggest Fan
Apparently Moore does not like this guy

In traveling the country Michael Moore also released a ridiculous amount of pollution into the air. It seemed he was flying a jet for a big portion of this film, and towards the actual election day seemed to criss-cross the country multiple times. At the end of the day, despite all of Michael Moore’s ranting and raving, John Kerry still lost the election. In other words, the Democrats had four failed years of the Bush doctrine, a war hero presidential candidate, a liberally loved Michael Moore supporting them and actively seeking voters for the Democrats and still, the Democrats lost.

Not only did they lose the election, but they also lost the fight for democracy. Little effort was made by the Democrats to combat the massive election fraud, voter suppression and the purge of registered voters. I was expecting a documentary discussing the voter frauds that occurred in Ohio to steal the election for George W. Bush but instead got a lot of Michael Moore’s self love fest and then some more Michael Moore.

Score: 1 / 5

Freestyle!

Aside from the bump in voter registration, I can’t find one redeeming quality about this film. Sure there were some musical performances, but none of them were very good. I’m a fan of Eddie Vedder and Tom Morello but they come across very flat in this film. What was the deal with that guy singing about Al Gore? Why do the Democrats love losing?

Hey, it's Eddie Vedder!
Hey, it's Eddie Vedder!

This film is just too bizarre and yet boring. I considered giving it a point or two in the freestyle section for the benefit of registering voters but I can’t in good faith encourage Michael Moore. As apart of the slacker generation targeted, this movie is of great insult to my intelligence and my passion for this country. Michael Moore repeatedly yells at people to get off the coach and vote, well Michael please take a look in the mirror, get off the jet, get on a bicycle and stop yelling at everyone else.

No more Michael Moore, no more.

Score: 0 / 22

Download or stream Slacker Uprising for free at SlackerUprising.com. If for some reason you must own this train wreck, Slacker Uprising is available on DVD at Amazon.com. (Note, Amazon.com is our affiliate).

Fahrenheit 9/11 was great, Slacker Uprising needs to be burned.

Complete Score: 4 / 42 = 9.5%