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Flags of Our Fathers
Movie Stats & Links

Starring: Ryan Phillippe, Adam Beach, Jesse Bradford
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Paramount Pictures
Web Site: www.flagsofourfathers.com
Kiddie Movie: Too much for the youngin's but I say you could probably bring the 14 and older.
Date Movie: It's good for the dating crowd.
Gratuitous Sex: Nah.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of it.
Action: Lots of it.
Laughs: There's a chuckle or two.
Memorable Scene: It was pretty funny when they were asking, I think it was Iggy but I could be wrong, if he got his masturbation papers in order.
Memorable Quote: "People will shit money."
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Produced By: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg

Flags of Our Fathers
A Movie Review

MPAA Rated - R

It's 2:17 Long

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
I had no idea there were two flag-raisings at Iwo Jima, and my guess is that you didnít realize it either. But for most of us we have all seen the picture, or the picture of the statue of that flag-raising, embedded into the minds of many Americans. The other part of the story we donít know is how the government used those who raised the second flag as fund-raiserís for the war effort. "Flags of Our Fathers" tries to tell that story, and itís not an easy story to tell.

Letís start with a quick whoís who of the flag raising. The six men who raised that second flag consist of Navy corpsman John Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), and five Marines: Ira Hayes (Adam Beach), Michael Strank (Barry Pepper), Franklin Sousley (Joseph Cross), Rene Gagnon (Jesse Bradford), and Harlon Block (Ben Walker). But part of the controversy comes in the fact that originally Harlon Block was left out of being a "hero," because he was mis-identified as Hank Hanson (Paul Walker), who actually took part in the first flag-raising.

Anyway, the movie consists of a few excerpts from the last days of Navy corpsman John Bradley (Ryan Phillipe), but mostly gives us scenes of preparation for battle at Iwo Jima (where we get introduced to most of the characters), the battle at Iwo Jima (where most of them die), and the travels of the three flag-raising survivors, Ira Hayes, Rene Gagnon, and John Bradley, who were brought back to the states to be used for the war bond propaganda machine.

During the preparation for battle we quickly learn of the camaraderie of the men at the time, how there is still some internal strife as some donít always respect the others, and how, no matter the differences or questioning the otherís ability, once the battle starts, itís all about working to help everyone survive.

Then there are the battle scenes, and I think a nod needs to be given to Seven Spielberg for giving us "Saving Private Ryan" and not holding back on the gruesomeness of battle, because Clint Eastwood does the same. Realism of battle is the name of the game, and we see it all again, from blown-off limbs, to blasted chests, to gunshots to the neck, to decapitation. Some people might say itís over-the-top, but for all of us who have never been there, maybe a little reality of what any person in the military has to go through in any battle is a good thing to remember.

But a lot of "Flag of Our Fathers" is really about the struggles the three remaining flag-raisers, Ira, Rene, and John, have to deal with when they return to the states, and are used to raise money for the war. For the tour we see how the government will use anything they can to make war look better than it is, and nothing was better at that time then the photo of that Iwo Jima flag-raising. We sort of see Rene taking it all in, realizing the celebrity he has become, and always there to say the right thing. We see John as not really wanting to be there, but doing his best to put on a good face. And we see Ira Hayes, who has the hardest time of all of them coming to grips with the things he has seen on the battlefield, and the job he has now been given, especially knowing that Harlon Block is not getting the credit he deserves for being a part of the flag-raising, that Harlonís family isnít getting the closure of having Harlon in the picture, and Ira turns to alcohol to try to stop the nightmares.

And finally, towards the end of the movie, we get told the stories of how Ira, Rene, and John lived the rest of their days, and how as much as the government tried to portray them as heroes because they raised a flag, they always knew that they werenít heroes, in the end they just raised a flag.

The trick with watching this movie is to go into it realizing that you will not get a straightforward time-line of how things happened, so be ready for it. You will be transported from John as an older man, you will be transported to battle scenes, you will be transported to when the boys were on the bond-raising tour, you will then be transported back to battle scenes, etc.

Clint Eastwood, I think, does the best he can at telling the story of the three men who didnít die at Iwo Jima who raised the second flag, and how they get used to raise money for the war. But this movie wouldnít work if the three main characters, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and John Bradley weren't played perfectly, and Bradford as Rene does well as the person absorbing the spotlight, but the stars of this movie were really Adam Beach as Ira, showing a man totaling struggling to come to grips to the things he has been through, and in a much tougher role, Ryan Phillipe as John, doing his best to just be there, deal with it, and get on with his life.

"Flags of Our Fathers" wasnít as good as "Saving Private Ryan," but it was damn close, and since I gave "Ö Ryan" 6 stars out of 5, Iím giving "Flags of Our Fathers" 5 stars out of 5. I will admit it gets tricky, at times, following the flash-backs, flash-presents, and flash-to-whenever, but in the end it all works.

Thatís it for this one! Iím The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

 

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