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Saints and Soldiers

Saints and Soldiers

Saints and Soldiers is lovingly produced on a small budget, under $1 million, by director Ryan Little. The movie shows the trials of four soldiers who escape the brutal Malmedy Massacre in December, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. The four survivors escape into the Belgian woods, with Utah as the stage, and try to figure out how to get back to the Allies, made all the more important due to critical information held by a British officer they encounter along the way.

If you’re feeling a poor man’s Saving Private Ryan vibe you’re not alone. Saints is remarkably derivative of the 1998 classic, with its band of rough and tumble guys on a seemingly impossible mission. The catch is while Ryan’s characters were all unique and memorable to a fault, Soldiers’ bland heroes are not. The characters are boring and way too clean cut, both looks wise and verbally. You don’t hear one swear word through the entire movie.

Little’s budget constraints are telling at times. The battle scenes feel realistic but are terribly small in scope. You can shoot off 5,000 rounds of blanks until you’re blue in the face, but it it’s only a handful of people doing the shooting it doesn’t come across as appropriately epic. Near the end, Little brings out the big guns, literally, as the two sides shoot rockets at one another. One soldier misses his target and the rocket impacts directly with a wispy tree that’s otherwise sticking out of a barren hillside, blowing it to pieces. Things just seemed out of place.

Little’s heart is in the right place and the quieter scenes among the men fare much better, but the film ultimately proves that war movies are best left to the moneybags. I was really looking forward to this but was sorely disappointed. At times the movie dragged on, until the end battle scene, which sadly lasted for about ten minutes. The movie has won numerous awards at various film festivals, and deservingly so on some of them considering what the director was able to do with a small budget but it still did nothing for me. It seemed like something you’d find on the History Channel. If you want to watch a good movie, or series, on the brotherhood and challenges of war I would recommend Band of Brothers.

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Well, it’s ok that you don’t like the movie. But what’s wrong with the fact that ‘you don’t hear one swear word through the entire movie’? Does that determine whether it’s a good movie? I’m not a prude but I really don’t mind that the characters don’t swear. Saving Privat Ryan is truly a great movie but was ‘fuck’ really a standard swear word in the 40s? I don’t think so. Besides, swearing’s not really the point. If the characters manage to do a great job and seem authentic… then what’s the problem? You don’t think they acted very good or are are credible – I think so. But the swear issue is just lame. (Excuse me my english).

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  2. Avatar

    Actually, yes that word was widely used by soldiers back then as it still is today. I understand that the director/writer is a devout Mormon, as is a character in the movie, but that shouldn’t mean everything about the movie should be clean cut as it is.

    Furthermore, I never stated that it determines whether it’s a good movie or not. Just pointing out how to clean cut the movie is for a war movie. Also, I do believe that I stated that the “quieter” scenes between the men fared better. I never stated that their acting abilities were bad, just that the characters themselves were bland.

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