Flags of Our Fathers (2006) - Widescreen Edition

Genre(s): Action / Biographical / Drama / Historical Epic / History / War
Warner Brothers, DreamWorks || R - 132 minutes - $29.99 || February 6, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-02-06


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer(s): James Bradley and Ron Powers (book), William Broyles Jr. and Paul Haggis (screenplay)
Cast: Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, John Benjamin Hickey, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Paul Walker, Robert Patrick, Neal McDonough


Theatrical Release Date: October 20, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
    None


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Flags of Our Fathers is the first of the “Iwo Jima Saga” and by most accounts, the weaker of the two films. Having not seen Letters from Iwo Jima, I cannot say if this is the case, but what I will say is Clint Eastwood’s war drama is filled with excellent and stunning visuals but lacks the proper character development that would put Flags amongst the great World War II movies like Saving Private Ryan.

The story centers around the flag raising on the island of Iwo Jima during a hard fought and bloody battle with the Japanese. After seeing the now famous picture, the government quickly used it as a way to raise funds through bonds and send the three remaining flag raisers (the other three were killed in battle) around the United States. The three “heroes” all have different views on how they are used. John “Doc” Bradley (Phillippe; Breach) seems vocally impartial, Rene Gagon (Bradford; Bring It On) is more gun-ho with the hype and Ira Hayes (Beach; Windtalkers), a Native American, is set against it.

Based on the novel by James Bradley (son of John), screenwriters William Broyles Jr. (Jarhead) and Oscar winner Paul Haggis (Crash) present an interesting aspect about WWII never covered on film but where Eastwood succeeds in presenting stylish and unique visuals, Broyles and Haggis fail to provide much in terms of character development. Outside of the Beach, I never had any emotional connection with any of them and instead my attention was solely focused on Tom Stern’s cinematography.

Stern worked with Eastwood before on Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Letters from Iwo Jima. Together, they separate, as the film goes from battle ground past to State-side past and present day, using different styles. The battle scenes look washed out, almost to the point of black and white with only a hint of soft colors, while State-side is brighter and more nostalgic to today which is still soft but more color seeping through.

Outside the three main actors, the film also features a gallery of supporting/recognizable actors including Paul Walker (Running Scared), Barry Pepper (We Were Soldiers), Robert Patrick (Walk the Line), Neal McDonough (Minority Report) and Jason Gray-Stanford (for the “Monk” fans at least). What’s impressive about this supporting cast, many who are very talented and rising in the profession, they are only featured for, save for Pepper and McDonough, maybe a couple minutes and one line. Unlike Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line where everyone under the sun had cameo-like parts (John Travolta, George Clooney, Thomas Jane, et al), the recognizable faces don’t detract from the movie (or message at hand), but actually provide a bit of hard hitting realism for a younger generation that perhaps might identify with them.

So, on the visual front, Flags of Our Fathers is easily the best looking picture of 2006 but my overall feelings toward the movie is taken down a notch as the story failed to connect on several fronts including the aforementioned character development. Now, this is a story that needed to be told and one that isn’t overly patriotic but is instead fair in how the events went down. It doesn’t make judgments on the event at the center of it all, it was certainly necessary to energize the people at home, but also shed light on the millions, during WWII, and nearly 7,000 on Iwo Jima, who sacrificed their lives for this country.

There’s one line that sums up my feelings toward the American military, be it World War II, Vietnam or Iraq:

“Heroes are something we create, something we need. It's a way for us to understand what is almost incomprehensible, how people could sacrifice so much for us, but for my dad and these men the risks they took, the wounds they suffered, they did that for their buddies, they may have fought for there country but they died for there friends.”

It’s just unfortunate that the passion of that one line did not come through for the entire picture. However, for the central story and Eastwood’s directing style, Flags of Our Fathers is worth watching.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

No features included. Expect a two-disc release later this year (and perhaps an Iwo Jima Saga set) with a ton of extras focusing on the making of Flags of Our Fathers.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Flags of Our Fathers is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35 OAR) and the transfer looks damn near perfect. Eastwood uses three different styles and each comes across the small big screen quite clearly. I expect no less from this war epic (which it is even if it fell short).

You have the choice between the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 tracks. For anyone that chooses not to use your surround sound system (shame on you!) or those without one, the 2.0 track is perfectly suitable. However, the 5.1 track has a fine mixture of dialogue along with the sounds of war.



.::OVERALL::.

I give major props to Clint Eastwood for trying something different filming both sides of the same conflict and although Flags falls short of being a memorable war-drama like Saving Private Ryan (which this will always be compared to), it still stands in its own right as a worthy film.

As for the DVD, wait a few months for a two-disc release that, I’ve read, will have cast and crew commentary along with several featurettes. If you love the movie and can’t wait, go ahead and get it now, otherwise wait for the better version.