Movie Review: Jarhead (2005)

*Ron Perlman voice activated*. War… war never changes. *Ron Perlman voice deactivated*.

Disclaimer: I know this thing is based on a true story, but I will not base my review on how perfectly accurate to the real situation it may or may not be, but I will instead judge it as a movie… which it is. Disclaimer over.

Ladies and gentlemen… “Jarhead”.

Anthony Swofford is young man who recently enlisted with the United States marines. And we follow him in the time leading up to and during Operation Desert Storm, and how much damage it does to him psychologically. There’s a lot of interesting scenes throughout that does develop the story, and I was somewhat interested in everything that was going on. But I never really felt as engaged as this type of story should’ve gotten me. There was never that emotional hook that a story like this should be able to get. Now, I’m not saying it needs to make me cry, just that it needs to grab me and hold onto me really tightly… which it never really did. I remember some really well done moments throughout, but never was I fully invested in it all. Overall, a fine story.

The characters in this are all assholes… but in a believable way. I really believe that this is what one would become if going through all of that. And I find them all to be quite interesting. Jake Gyllenhaal (as previously mentioned) plays Anthony Swofford, a smart young man who goes through the ups and downs of marine life. Seeing a good guy like him tested like this is quite interesting, and it makes him a pretty compelling character. And Gyllenhaal is of course fantastic in the role. And throughout the movie we get supporting performances from people like Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, Evan Jones, Brian Geraghty, Lucas Black, Chris Cooper, Dennis Haysbert, and more, all doing very well in their respective roles.

The score was composed by Thomas Newman, and it was pretty good. It takes some inspiration from rock and a few middle-eastern influences, all of which comes together to create an interesting atmosphere for the movie. It’s tense, fun, and just overall pretty cool. There are also a few licensed tracks used throughout the movie, all of them pleasing to the ear, and all of them working quite well in their respective scenes.

This movie was directed by Sam Mendes, and I think he did a good job. When he wanted to make me feel uneasy, he made me feel uneasy. When he wanted to build some suspense, he built some suspense. Mendes has a good eye for these things. And speaking of seeing things, the cinematography by Roger Deakins? Absolutely fantastic (what else would you expect from that man?).

This movie has gotten some slightly mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 61% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 58/100. Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

“Jarhead” has a lot of good things going for it, but it’s far from perfect. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, really good music, and great directing/cinematography. As previously mentioned, it is brought down quite a bit by a lack of a good emotional hook in the story. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “Jarhead” is an 8,54/10. So while flawed, it’s still worth buying.

My review of “Jarhead” is now completed.

Bang a gong, get it on…

Movie Review: Road to Perdition (2002)

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I am a big fan of mobster related stories, whether it’s from a movie, TV-show, book or even video games. I don’t know why they fascinate me so much, I guess they just kind of do. So then I heard about a mob movie starring one of my favorite actors (Tom Hanks). So of course it got my attention pretty quickly… even though it took me a lot of time before I watched it. But now I have finally gotten the chance to watch it and it’s time to talk about it!

Ladies and gentlemen… “Road to Perdition”.

This movie follows the young boy Michael Sullivan Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) as he one night watches what his father (Tom Hanks) does for a living… killing people. So after that his mother and younger brother get killed by Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) who was working with Sullivan sr. that night. So of course our hero must run away with his son to keep him safe. He is also going around hunting down who were part of the death of his family. I know my explanation of the plot if pretty vague but it is difficult talking about this plot without giving you every detail ever. I can at least say that I loved both the premise of the plot and the execution. The movie really explores the relationship between father and son here and how they bond… in a strange way. The story not only brought up some interesting things but was also pretty powerful. So I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed the story in this movie.

The characters were really well-written. They didn’t only have great dialogue but also felt very realistic in what came out of their mouths. And the performances in the movie were pretty fucking great if you ask… well, anyone. Tom Hanks is always good, but I feel like this might be one of his best performances in my opinion. Paul Newman was also pretty great in this movie. It was also nice to see Daniel Craig in a great performance that wasn’t James Bond. Jude Law was also really good. Overall every actor did a great job in this movie, but there was one performance that really surprised me with how good it was and that was young Tyler Hoechlin who was only 15 at the time. He honestly gave one of the best child performances I have ever seen. Great job, Tyler!

The score by Thomas Newman is nothing short of great. It really works to create the dark, tense atmosphere of the movie. Yes there were a few more light-hearted parts in both the movie and the score that loosened the tension a little bit but I think that worked pretty damn well. There were a few tracks that I believe weren’t composed by Thomas Newman but were licensed tracks… but they worked too. Every piece of music in this movie really helped capture the time period of the 1930’s which is the time period the movie is set in. So the music was overall great.

This movie is beautifully directed. It is rare to find a movie that looks this great these days. It uses a bunch of longer takes in some scenes which I really appreciate since a lot of modern movies uses cuts every god damn second. I also appreciate how they didn’t use shaky-cam during the more action-y scenes and actually let us see the god damn things on the screen (compared to all modern movies). Here is a fun fact about the movie; It is based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. And to answer your possible question, no I have not read the graphic novel but I kinda wish to.

This movie was fairly well-received. It has an 81% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 72/100. Roger Ebert gave this movie 3/4 stars, and no I couldn’t find a decent quote from him to sum up his thoughts on the movie, but I could at least assume he liked it since it got 3/4 stars. Anyway, on imdb.com it has a score of 7,8/10. The movie won an Oscar for Best cinematography. It was also nominated for another 5 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Paul Newman), Best set decoration, Best sound, Best sound editing, Best original score. 

This movie features an interesting/powerful story, great performances and writing, great music, beautiful camera work/cinematography and an overall great atmosphere. So now I am going to hand out my final score for this movie. So my final score for “Road to Perdition” is a 9,71/10 which grants it the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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“Road to Perdition” is now reviewed.

R.I.P Paul Newman.