Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a trudge

Grade:  C

Rating: R, 110 minutes

In a Nutshell: As an Army mom, I admit I watched this flag-waiving drama through different eyes.  Based on the best-selling book, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk: A Novel, this was the first time High Frame Rate technology was used in a movie at such a high speed.  

It has an interesting effect that is supposed to be immersive in a new way.  Unfortunately, most people will end up watching this underwhelming movie on a TV or tiny computer screen after it comes out on DVD, missing the impressive work in each frame.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Has anyone looked in the eyes of the dead?” – poetry at funeral
  • “It’s not something I’m real proud of, but I did what I had to do.” – Billy Lynn
  • "The karma of action…the way of the warrior." - Shroom
  • “Sometimes I wonder if we really deserve what you guys do for us.” – Faison (Makenzie Leigh)
  • “We're a nation of children, Billy.  We go somewhere else to grow up, sometimes to die.” – Shroom (Vin Diesel)
  • Loyalty, bravery, patriotism, war, freedom, politics.

Things I liked:
  • The funeral at the beginning is heart-breaking when the ceremony includes calling out for the deceased soldier.
  • Shout-out to Matt Damon, Hillary Swank, and Destiny’s Child.  Celebrities who were actually in the movie are Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker, Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin. 
  • Newcomer Joe Alwyn has incredibly expressive eyes that allow you to see the conflict within his character.
  • Ben Platt is so likable.  He has only played small roles in movies so far, but I’d like to see him in a bigger role someday.
  • Two-time Oscar winning Director Ang Lee broke new ground cinematically because of his technique.  (I loved his work in Life of Pi.)  I also liked how he tried to film it as if we were in the middle of the action, rather than watching the action.
  • The film addresses PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)  You might be interested in learning more about combat stress recovery programs.  
  • I loved how Shroom always said “I love you” to his men.
  •  This movie isn't really a war movie, but rather, a soldier movie.
Things I didn’t like:
  • All of the guys talk at the same time, so it’s often hard to hear what everyone is saying.
  • The film tells you how to feel.
  • The acting isn’t particularly good.
  • I realize the soldiers are just young kids.  They are often extremely badly behaved, even at their press events.  Doesn’t the military teach some etiquette to soldiers before they go on a media tour like this?  It's embarrassing.
  • There is some ignorant talk of gays in the military.
  • On the one hand, the movie seemed like a satire.  On the other hand, it felt like it was too saccharine.
  • I wanted more of a backstory so that I would care about any of these soldiers.
  • The script is rather dull. 

Interesting lines:
  • “It doesn’t have to be about God or country.  Just find something bigger than yourself.” – Shroom (Vin Diesel)
  • ‘I’ve kind of gotten used to telling people what they want to hear.” – Billy Lynn
  • “It’s so weird, being honored for the worst day of your life.” – Billy Lynn
  • “Sometimes nothing is better than something.” – Billy Lynn
  • “Take us some place safe.  Take us back to the war.” – Sykes (Barney Harris)

Funny lines:
  • “72 virgins in heaven?  Why 72?” – random girl who talked to Billy Lynn at a football game.
  • “I can appreciate trash talk.  It’s not the best I’ve heard, but it’s pretty good.” – Steven Martin
  • “Yeah, yeah.  Let’s go get a middle school named after us!” – Dime  (Garrett Hedlund)
Tips for parents: 
  • Lots and lots of profanity.
  • A lot of inappropriate sexual conversations and a fairly graphic sex scene.
  • There is a scene were some guys smoke marijuana.
  • War violence, including a bloody hand-to-hand combat scene.

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