Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

It was with great anticipation that I rented Flags Of Our Fathers on DVD. I had seen the trailers and looked forward to a retelling of the famous Battle of Iwo Jima, and the courageous Marines that defied the odds to raise the flag on the hilltop that day. (As an aside, I once met a retired Marine that claimed to have been on the "next hill" when the flag was raised.) This was based on a novel by the same name, and the film was up for plenty of awards recently.

Boy, was I disappointed. First of all, Flags Of Our Fathers tries to tell the tale of the three remaining men that raised the flag that day. In the end, they're not even sure who was really in the photo. We feel empathy towards a mother that maintains that her now deceased son was in the image, that never really gets any recognition as his back was turned to the camera. The whole time sequence of this film is screwed up as it really has more flashbacks that the film Memento (which is a great film if you missed it...). Every time the plot gets moving, either on the Japanese island, or in the later war bond tour, we get interrupted to go back to the other, and the entire thread of whatever that was happening is lost big time.

I also got the impression that Flags Of Our Fathers had more to say about our current war than about World War II. I'm just not sure what the take home message was! War is too expensive? Heroes just happen by chance and are not planned? America needed to continue the fight at a time when the end wasn't in sight? Our soldiers don't get taken care of well after the war is over? Take your pick because all of the above themes permeate throughout the film. With that many half developed themes, it becomes a bit of a mish-mosh in the theme department.

This is simply another example of the trailer not showing what the film is going to be accurately. This lengthy film tips the scales at around 2:15, and it feels closer to three hours. There were points that I felt it couldn't end fast enough! If you'd like to see a great historical military film, then Saving Private Ryan is still a much better choice by any comparison. Somewhere in Flags of Our Fathers there is a better film. Perhaps if we cut out about an hour, and resequenced the film in a more chronological order, there would be something that was worth the effort watching. In its current state, its clearly not to this reviewer.

Finally, much of the film focuses on finding one of the Marine's comrades: Iggy. After scene after scene of yelling for "Iggy" I still have no idea if he was ever on the island, or what his fate was. Really, a film should be clearer than that.

Overall Grade: D

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