Miracle at St. Anna (2008)

Genre(s): Drama / War
Touchstone || R - 160 minutes - $29.99 || February 10, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-02-05


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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

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Spike Lee
Writer(s): James McBride (novel); James McBride (screenplay)
Cast: Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, Valentina Cervi, Joseph Gordon-Levitt


Theatrical Release Date: September 26, 2008


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


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

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.::THE FILM::.

Hey so if youíre reading this, then it means youíre interested in the movie Miracle at St. Anna, the latest from mostly acclaimed director Spike Lee. I say mostly because Iíve seen a few of his movies, and not liked a single one of them. His latest, which came out late last year, still keeps the streak running in films of his that I canít enjoy nor stand.

The movie opens to a postal worker Hector (Laz Alonso) working at his job, close to his retirement. A man walks up who Hector recognizes and he pulls out a luger from his station and shoots the man in cold blood in front of multiple witnesses. He is taken to jail, where a reporter (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) named Tim Boyle interviews him since a rare statue head worth tons of money was found in Hectorís apartment. Hector is strung up about telling him the story about what happened and how he found the statue head, but since this is a movie obviously weíre heading into flashback mode.

The story begins in the World War II era, which is 1944 for those non-history buffs, where a group of officers, mainly Stamps (Derek Luke), Bishop (Michael Ealy), Hector, and Train (Omar Benson Miller) are in a platoon scouting the area in Italy. Their group however scouts an area and is attacked, where most of their squad is killed, and one of the soldiers calls in for help but the sergeant (who is white) refuses to send help since he doesnít believe the soldiers crossed over into enemy lines. The sergeant ignores the call, and attacks the wrong position.

The platoon is lost in the shuffle and disbanded for the moment, but Train finds a barn where an injured Angelo (Matteo Sciabordi) and promptly rescues him. Angelo doesnít speak English, only his native language, and since I failed foreign language classes like ten times, itís something that isnít English. From this point on, Angelo refers to his rescuer as a giant. Well, a certain kind of giant having to do with Trainís skin color, but itís another racial remark that I donít feel like sharing.

The platoon ends up in a town with Italians that was just recently visited by Germans that scrounged the town for food. They end up shacking with a group consisting of multiple people, one of them being Renata (Valentina Cervi) who aides the soldiers and helps Angelo out since he was injured at the barn.

In the meantime, you are treated to scenes from the American and German camps as well. You learn that the platoonís group from the start was an experiment, and that the Germans are going to be launching a counterstrike soon. For some reason, yet again, Spike Lee chooses to include more racism in the movie. Granted it is 1944, but come on, enough is enough at some point right?

The group sticks at the house for a few days, trying to contact headquarters for an extraction. However headquarters has a different idea, and forces them to capture a German so they can interrogate him. Until they do so, the Americans refuse to come in to help them out. That and since the commander is a white male and the platoon is made up of all black people, he refuses to send aide since he doesnít believe them about where they are at. So itís up to this platoon to somehow capture a German, escape from the town, and survive.

Alright, first off, every Lee movie Iíve ever seen has to deal with racism. In 2008 when this was made, canít it just stop? This could have been an amazing war movie, but itís screwed up with the whole ďracismĒ aspect of it. That, and the movie is incredibly long (it clocks in at well over two hours) when it doesnít really need to be. The acting on a positive note is incredible, as the cast and lines are believable. The problem lies with the directing and the direction of the film. Had it concentrated more on the war aspect and the battles, it would have been better.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Zip. Nadda. Zilch. Why no commentary from Lee? Extra footage?



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

For a release like this, I expected the film to be top-notch in terms of the video presentation, but sadly I was disappointed. Colors appear washed out and grain is present in most of the movie. Contrast is also a bit off in multiple scenes as well, which distracts viewers as the flesh tones appear darker and lighter in many parts as well. Overall though itís not a bad looking film, but Iím here to scrutinize the video and thatís what I have to do. It does look nice, although there are just a few things that I couldnít get past.

The audio side fares about as equal as the video. For the most part, the film does a good job of giving audiences a clear dialogue that is well-spoken and heard throughout. However, for a war film, levels were really low in comparison to other films. The gunfire and other noises that should have been loud and booming werenít, in nearly every scene that there should have been thunderous sounds it was dull and flat. I was rather disappointed about that, but it still is a decent audio track that does fit the bill for the movie, even though I found it a bit underwhelming.



.::OVERALL::.

Even if youíre a huge Spike Lee fan or someone who loved the movie in theaters I canít in good conscience recommend this for a purchase. With absolutely zero supplements and a decent audio and video package, Miracle at St. Anna isnít a miracle of a DVD release. Itís at best a rental, just because this will get re-released at least one more time with special features, or I would hope so.