Who's in It:
Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, John Benjamin Hickey, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell
The Basics: Trailers lie. You'd think, from watching the teasers to this one, that it's one of those "greatest generation" movies about World War II and how brave everyone was back then. But it's really about how war is marketed and sold to people back home. In this case, it's about how that iconic photograph of the men planting that flag at Iwo Jima became a selling point.
What's the Deal? Want to get your point across? Don't make your war commentary about Iraq. Go after the "good war" instead. It turns out that that global battle needed some PR help, too.
What's Good About It: You have to admire it for taking a risk with such a sentimental subject. World War II is like ancient and fuzzy history to a lot of people, and it's gotten this warm, golden, buttery shine to it, a shine like the one that launched the careers of hundreds of awful modern swing bands. To come out and remind people that it was as devastating a conflict as anything that came afterward and was morally complicated in spite of its clear enemy is like kicking a puppy.
What's Not: The script, by Crash guy Paul Haggis and William Broyles Jr., takes out a big black Sharpie and underlines the main themes and ironies again and again until you want to yell, "Yes! OK! I get it! War has to be sold to people until they like it! And racism is still bad!"
Hey, Slow Down, Clint Eastwood! Was it necessary for you to compose the score and write the title song, too? Bucking for that Best Song Oscar if everything else goes south? I won't even mention that he also sings.