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Posts Tagged ‘Teresa Palmer’

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)  —  movie review
WAAAYYY back in August 2016, I wrote a post about a documentary, a movie preview (“trailer”), and a few comments on something I’d discovered on YouTube which I then called “trailer reviews”.  Here is a link to that post for anyone who would like to read my earlier post:  https://kmabarrett.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/conscientious-courage/
At any rate, the movie came out and, for whatever reason, I never have reviewed it.  This post corrects that mistake.  (My earlier post was about the documentary / subject of the movie and not on the actual movie.)
The film is a typically formatted two-part military tale focusing on the World War II training (pre-military life / boot camp), and then, (actual) combat experiences of Desmond Doss, a combat medic who was a pacifist / Seventh-day Adventist Christian, who refused to touch, carry or use a firearm or weapon of any kind. Doss became the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The medal was for service above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Okinawa (April to June 1945).  It should be mentioned, the movie implies the battle shown was a few days / nights long.  In fact, it (the battle shown) lasted a couple of weeks and the battle for the island several months.  Also, Doss received medals for two acts of courage in combat (on two other islands) which preceded this battle on Okinawa, so his courage was already known by his fellow soldiers before the events depicted in this movie.
Andrew Garfield stars as Doss, and Hugo Weaving (Mr. Smith from the Matrix movies) as his father, with Sam Worthington (the blue guy in “Avatar”) as Doss’ company commander and Vince Vaughn as his drill instructor and platoon sergeant.  The film received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Garfield and Best Sound Editing, and winning the awards for Best Sound Mixing and Best Film Editing.
First we are introduced to Doss as a child and learn about his desire to be a doctor.  We also meet his girlfriend and future wife.  (Normally, I would describe all of this as “Blah, blah, blah…”, but in this movie, the background really is important to the story – imagine that!)  Doss joins the Army and is placed under the training of Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn, who is surprisingly good in this wise-cracking, but non-comedic role).  Despite being skinny, Doss excels physically but is cast as a coward to his platoon for refusing to handle a rifle and train on Saturdays.  Howell and Captain Glover (Worthington, who looks surprisingly old in this role) attempt to discharge Doss for psychiatric reasons but are overruled, as Doss’ religious beliefs do not qualify as a mental illness.  So, instead, they try to make life hard on Doss.  One night, Doss is beaten by some of the members of his own platoon, but Doss refuses to identify his attackers and completes his training.
Doss intends to marry Dorothy (his girlfriend played by Teresa Palmer), but his refusal to carry a firearm leads to an arrest for failing to follow a direct order by a commanding officer.  At his trial, Doss pleads not guilty, but before he is sentenced, his father barges into the tribunal with a letter from a former commanding officer (of the father) stating that his son’s pacifism is protected by an Act of Congress.  The charges against Doss are dropped, and he and Dorothy are married.
Doss’ unit is deployed to the Pacific theater, and during the Battle of Okinawa, Doss’ unit is told that they have to climb and secure the Maeda Escarpment (“Hacksaw Ridge”).  In the initial fight, Doss saves several wounded soldiers.  The platoon camps for the night, which Doss spends in a foxhole with Smitty (played by Luke Bracey), who was the first squad-mate to call Doss a coward back in his training platoon days.  Doss tells Smitty his refusal to carry a rifle comes from nearly shooting his drunken father, who threatened his mother with a pistol.  Smitty apologizes for doubting his courage and the two reconcile.  This last is definitely meant to create a “heart-felt” moment and my immediate reaction was: this guy is either going to be a friend for life or he’s going to be a “redshirt” (LOL – StarTrek TOS reference for you nerds out there).
The next day, the Japanese launch a massive counterattack and drive the Americans off the escarpment.  Smitty is killed (ha! a redshirt), while Howell and several of Doss’ squad mates are left injured on the battlefield.  Doss hears the cries of the wounded and dying soldiers and goes back to save them, carrying the wounded to the cliff’s edge and belaying them each down the cliff face by rope, each time praying to save just one more.  The arrival of dozens of wounded once presumed dead comes as a shock to the rest of the unit below.  When day breaks, Doss rescues Sergeant Howell and the two escape over the cliff while under enemy fire. Just a historical note on the escarpment / cliff face.  The escarpment is actually about a 300-400 foot “overall” rise which is topped by the last 30 to 40 feet of sheer cliff.  This last bit – the cliff face – is given a bit of dramatic enhancement by the film’s director (Mel Gibson) who makes the last bit seem like the whole thing.
Captain Glover tells Doss that the men have been inspired by his courage and faith, and that they will not launch the next attack without him.  With new reinforcements, they win the battle.  When some Japanese soldiers fake surrender, Doss saves Captain Glover and others by slapping and then kicking (nice Spidey move) enemy grenades.  Doss is wounded in the leg by the kicked grenade’s blast, and Doss descends the cliff, holding the Bible his wife gave him.
The film switches to archival photos and footage from the documentary to show Doss receiving his Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for rescuing the 75 soldiers at Hacksaw Ridge.  The notes state Doss stayed married to Dorothy until her death in 1991, and, that he died on March 23, 2006, at the age of 87.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, his fellow soldiers reported Doss saved over 100 men.  Doss estimated he “helped” 50.  His CMoH split the difference an said “75”!!!
So, what did I think? You gotta be kiddin’ me!  I loved the documentary; I cried during the preview (okay, maybe I just welled up a bit); and, I loved the movie (and, yes, I did cry)!!  This is not a movie about war – which is what I originally thought it was going to be about.  This is a movie about the human spirit, faith and courage.  Needless to say – final recommendation: very highly recommended.  One note of caution: like several of Gibson’s movies, this one is graphic in the display of violence and in the horrors of war.  As such, it is not appropriate for the very young or the squeamish.
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On This Day In:
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Today a book review and a movie re-review.  The book is titled: “The Faiths Of Our Fathers” and the movie: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice“.
The Faiths Of Our Fathers” is written by Alf J. Mapp, Jr. (2003©).  Mapp is a colonial historian and this book is somewhat interesting in providing context about the differences in beliefs across the colonies.  Other than that, my own belief is that the author is biased towards “Christian” beliefs and caries this bias across in his writing.  The book attempts to offer a Catholic (Charles Carroll of Carrollton) and a Jew (Haym Solomon) as secondary evidence that one (an American of historical significance) can be deeply religious without being Protestant.  In fact, many of the most prominent founders – Washington, Jefferson and Franklin (for example) were Deists – they believed in a supreme being – but did not hold that being MUST be Christian (let alone a trinity).
While it is certainly true that most of the founding fathers were raised in a Christian faith, it is NOT accurate to portray them as devout Christians – which is definitely the feeling I was left with after reading this book.  For example: Washington did not partake of Communion.  When confronted about this and advised that others in the church found his actions “confusing”, Washington stopped attending services altogether.  Jefferson rewrote the Bible removing all references to miracles, because he considered them fantasy.  And, Franklin was a deist who questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ in his autobiography and in letters to friends.
As stated, the book is somewhat interesting as it describes the faiths during the time of the founding of the United States and it is a short book.  Other than those two observations, it is difficult to give this book more than a passing recommendation.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a movie I saw with my kids on first release back in July of 2010  (my initial review is here).  I enjoyed the movie initially, and I thought even more highly of it after seeing it this second time.  I watched it on one of the cable movie channels, so there were no commercial interruptions.  While Nicolas Cage and Alfred Molina are the two “stars” of the movie (and Molina is pretty good in his bad-guy role; Cage less so as the good-guy), the real stars are the apprentice – Dave – and his lifelong (lost and rediscovered) girlfriend – Becky (played by Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer, respectively).  I don’t recall seeing either of them in any other roles, before or since, so I don’t have much to compare them with beyond this role.  In any case, Jay makes for a believable Nerd and Teresa holds her own as a beautiful girl who falls for a nerd (right, that’s gonna happen!)
The movie has good to great special effects and is a pleasant family movie with a minimum of blood, killings and swearing.  It was refreshing to watch a movie that was pleasant, entertaining and contained pretty good action scenes.  The “Fantasia” mop scene is pretty well re-created in the movie, which I felt added a little bit of movie geekiness to the movie.  As I tend to be a movie-geek, this was a plus for me.
One final note, as I did not see this back-to-back with another very good movie this time (last time I saw it the day after “Inception“), the movie came across even better than after the first viewing.  I highly recommend this movie.  Particularly now that you can watch it on cable.
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