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Ryan Phillippe as John “Doc” Bradley
Jesse Bradford as Rene Gagnon
Adam Beach as Ira Hayes
John Benjamin Hickey as Keyes Beech
John Slattery as Bud Gerber
Barry Pepper as Mike Strank
Jamie Bell as Ralph “Iggy” Ignatowski
Paul Walker as Hank Hansen
Robert Patrick as Colonel Chandler Johnson
Neal McDonough as Captain Severance
Melanie Lynskey as Pauline Harnois
Thomas McCarthy as James Bradley
Chris Bauer as Commandant Vandergrift
Judith Ivey as Belle Block
Myra Turley as Madeline Evelley
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 132 Minutes
The following is from the official DVD synopsis:
“One the frontline, there’s no time for fear. For 70,000 marines who fought with bombs blasting and guns blazing, the bloody battle for Iwo Jima was more than the turning point of World War II; it was the defining moment in their lives.
Academy Award-winning director Clint Eastwood taps into the single greatest emotional truth of warfare: soldiers may fight for their country, but they die for their friends. Flags of Our Fathers is a powerful true story of heroism and bravery that should be shared and remembered.”
“Flags of Our Fathers” is rated R for sequences of graphic war violence and carnage, and for language.
I was a bit surprised by “Flags of Our Fathers.” I was expecting more of a straight up depiction of the Battle of Iwo Jima. In reality, the story is about the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and the iconic photo of the event. The telling of the story of the flag raising does require some depiction of the war, but it is by no means the focus. The film features events before the raising, the subsequent hype behind it, the controversy about who was actually in the photo, and the lives of the men well after World War II. The bulk of the battle and its resolution is not shown in this movie.
My favorite part of the film was the beach battle scene. It was a spectacular display of action and special effects that rivals “Saving Private Ryan.” The scene was intense and left you holding your breath throughout it. It’s everything you’d hope for from a war movie directed by Clint Eastwood and produced by Steven Spielberg. The subsequent scenes showing the war bonds tour touting the heroes was also interesting.
All that being said, “Flags of Our Fathers” did have some problems. First of all, the movie has flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks. It gets a bit confusing following where you are within the timeline. It’s also rather difficult to tell one character from another in the battle scenes. By the end of the movie I could only connect a few of the main characters with the events in the battle scenes. Finally, the movie is about an hour longer than it needed to be. Some of the flashbacks had no impact whatsoever on the overall story and many scenes were redundant.
Overall, “Flags of Our Fathers” is good, but not as impressive as you’d expect from Eastwood and Spielberg.
Unfortunately, there are no bonus features included on this DVD. If I had to guess, I would expect that they’ll include bonus features on some two-pack with “Letters From Iwo Jima.” You may want to wait for that and make it a double feature.