Memorial Day: The Greatest War Movie

Posted: May 27, 2013 by Micah in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , ,

First off, I would just like to take a few serious sentences here and thank those who have served (and are serving) in our armed forces. Every American owes you an incredible debt for your service and while we may not always agree with politicians I hope that today and everyday we can agree to unwavering support of our brave men and women in uniform.

I sat down today to write a list entitled “Top Five War Movies” but as I started mulling things over and thinking things through, and frequently breaking to sip on some ice cold cherry cheery chaps lemonade (cherry cheery chaps lemonade is a copyrighted invention of Micah Thompson, Micah Thompson Inc, and the Federation for the Glorification of Micah) I came to a somewhat shocking realization:

I don’t like that many war movies.

Or perhaps more accurately: I haven’t watched that many war movies. I mean I’ve seen the basics like Saving Private Ryan, The Patriot, Black Hawk Down, etc. but most of those aren’t really “Top 5 movie” material. Saving Private Ryan has Tom Hanks in it and features a lot of men wandering around looking for somebody. Black Hawk Down is a movie that stars and features no one cast member as much as it does the F-bomb. And The Patriot can be summed up like so: blood, blood, blood, The Joker, bloody, blood, blood, cute little girl, blood, blood, AMERICA. So wear does that leave us? And (more importantly) wear does it leave this blogpost? The answer is (of course) with the following bold fonted, slightly centered, textification.

Micah’s Memorial Movie Mecomendation

(Editor’s Note: Recommendations. As you may or may
not have noticed Micah is a slave to alliteration…. and peanut butter)

As stated above I have not watched a lot of war movies. Most of the ones I have seen, I have not been super impressed by, some I have been but not in such a way that makes me want to put them on a list. I’m not saying they aren’t good movies, I’m just saying that they aren’t the sort of thing that gets me excited to pull out a soft bag of beans and watch them. There is one movie though, that is the exception, and that movie stands (in my mind) head and shoulders above the rest in terms of patriotism, in terms of storytelling, scriptwriting, and beard having. And that movie is:


The 1800's where any facial hair was good facial hair.

The 1800’s where any facial hair was good facial hair.

“Micah,” you might say. “Surely Gettysburg is too long. I mean the actual battle of Gettysburg didn’t take as long as it takes to watch this film.”

“Ah-ha,” I would reply offering you some copyrighted lemonade. “But it also features an incredible cast telling an incredible story, in a deep and emotionally impactful way. You can’t just do that in an hour and a half of movie. It takes time, like baking a cake or painting a chapel or (in my case) tying your shoes.”

I’m not going to review Gettysburg in a traditional sort of sense but let’s go ahead and talk about some of the big pros and cons of the movie.

Pro 1: Great acting, particularly by Martin Sheen who absolutely OWNS the screen as Robert E. Lee with an absolutely spot on portrayal of the Confederate General. But really the whole cast just turns in an amazing performance. Each character and each line genuinely matter both to the people who are saying them and to the audience. There are some amazing dramatic moments in the movie and they are greatly enhanced by the phenomenally talented people who are delivering them.

Con 1: It’s a long movie. REALLY long. Like, pause for a bathroom break, snack break, drink break, and kit-kat bar break sort of long.

Pro 2: Incredibly dramatic battle sequences that really put you into the action. Whether it’s Pickett’s charge, or Little Round Top all of the action sequences in the movie are pulled off beautifully. They are a touch violent at times but never for extended periods and this is just one of those times where violence was required by the story they were attempting to tell.

I mean look at that acting! Even his mustache is sad and tired.

I mean look at that acting! Even his mustache is sad and tired.

Con 2: It takes a while to get to said battle sequences. It’s not that the plot of the movie is slow per se but you certainly wouldn’t call it fast. It’s not sloth paced so much as it is “athletically sloth paced” or maybe “sloth on six cans of red bull” paced.

Pro 3: Beautiful sound track. Probably one of the Top ten most iconic sound tracks of all time. As soon as someone starts playing Gettysburg I get emotional. The movie really uses it’s score well too, saving it’s biggest and most moving sections for the very best moments of the movie.

Con 3: Seriously though, it’s a long movie.

"Seriously guys, I think that's the end of the movie over there. Just hang in there!"

“Seriously guys, I think that’s the end of the movie over there. Just hang in there!”

Gettysburg is just one of those movies you have to watch. Sure it’s a time investment, sure it’s a bit slow at times but in the end it’s a beautiful, triumphant, sad, wonderful look at some of our countries darkest times, that produced some of our countries brightest heroes. Today, of all days, seems like a good time to recommend it to all of you. So get out there, fry up a hot dog, pull up a beanchair and chill out with Gettysburg. Thanks for reading, and have a happy (and thoughtful) Memorial Day.

  1. Katja says:

    I actually watched this after your review. I’d seen it before but it had been years and I couldn’t remember it.

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