Blind Spot Series: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving-private-ryan-1998-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Steven Spielberg

Genre: Drama, War

Runtime: 169 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Vin Diesel, Giovanni Ribisi, Jeremy Davies, Matt Damon, Ted Danson, Paul Giamatti

Plot: Set during World War II,  Captain Miller and his assembled crew are sent to find Private James Ryan and send him home. His 3 brothers have been killed in action and all 3 telegraphs are set to be sent on the same day to his Mother to inform her of the terrible news. To alleviate her grief the Chief of Staff decides that Ryan should be pulled from the war.

My Thoughts: War movies have never interested me, but in my recent quest to watch all Oscar Best Picture nominees when awards season rolls around, I found myself at the cinema to watch Hacksaw Ridge (2016) which exceeded all my expectations. I don’t think anyone can talk about war movies without at least thinking about Saving Private Ryan (1998) so the Blind Spot Series was a great opportunity to watch the classic and expand my horizons a little.

Straight away you’re hit with a wall of emotion. We see a survivor of the war in his old age, although we don’t know who, as he visits the graves of his brothers, and then we’re transported straight into one of the battles. It’s raw, it’s gritty, it’s tense and uncomfortable to watch, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away. We’re literally in the thick of it with these soldiers, and we’re in it for the long haul.

At just under 3 hours this is one of the longest movies I’ve watched, and so I made the decision to watch it in two sittings but to be honest, I could have happily watched it in one go, you don’t notice the time at all. There’s always something going on, and even in the quieter moments you know it’s just a build up to the next big thing.

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Best Bit: I’ve always associated Giovanni Ribisi with the TV Show Friends, so much so that I can never remember his actual name, I call him Frank Jr. I know him from small, comedic roles so it was a surprise to see him here. He was AMAZING. The guy has some really incredible talent, and I can’t believe it’s the only serious role I’ve ever seen him in. He deserved award nominations for it, without a doubt.

Worst Bit: There’s no denying that Saving Private Ryan is an incredible movie. I’m not a converted war movie fan, though. Watching this, watching Hacksaw Ridge, watching Dunkirk (2017), they were amazing experiences, but to me, they aren’t ‘enjoyable’ in the same sense as other genres, if that makes any sense?

Fun Trivia: Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because he wanted an unknown actor with an All-American look. He did not know Damon would win an Oscar for Good Will Hunting (1997) and become an overnight star before the film was released.

My Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 pairs of standard-issue socks that you can turn into sticky bombs if needed.

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blind-spot-series-2019-banner-v2The Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.

What the Hell Happened in Lady in the Water (2006)?

A couple of weeks ago I felt in the right kind of mood for an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and found myself watching The Happening (review here). Shyamalan gets a lot of hate, and in fairness I’ve mainly watched his better movies, but I’m rapidly finding myself wanting to watch everything he’s done for the hell of it. The Happening was an absolute disaster in more ways than one, but you guys, it was so much fun to watch and make fun of.

lady-in-the-water-review-2006When I reviewed it for the blog, some of you mentioned Lady in the Water, telling me it was even worse. You realise what you set in motion in that moment, right? I had to watch it!

It took me 2 days, and 3 sitting to actually get through it, it was actually that bad. There were times I wanted to call it quits, but I stuck with it for the sake of the blog. I can’t write a review I’m afraid, mainly because I’m still not sure what actually happened in front of my eyes, but for my own sake (and yours) I’m going to try and explain what happened. Spoilers ahead, but you’re not missing out on much!

The movie opens with a stick man explanation of the people who live in the water world, watching over us land folk, until we got greedy and forgot about them. Every now and again they send their water kids to our world, but most of them get eaten by wolves. Um, okay.

Then we see a stuttering Paul Giamatti, the only maintenance man in a huge apartment complex, talking with his pool cleaner about how dirty it is. It’s almost like there’s someone living there, eh, eh?

Bingo. Bryce Dallas Howard is the lady in the water. Giamatti tries to take her outside, but they get attacked by a grass wolf. Stay with me now, this isn’t even that weird yet.

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It’s called a Scrunt apparently, which sounds like the world’s worst Pokemon to me.

I don’t remember how, but we somehow learn her name is Story, and she is a Narf. I guess Narfs are the people from the water world, but what a terrible name.

It just so happens that one of the resident’s mothers knows all about the story of the Narfs, which is super lucky, but to convince this old lady to tell him the story, Giamatti has to convince her that he is actually a child (?!) and finds himself sat on her sofa with a milk mustache. No innuendo, I swear.

It turns out that Story is trying to find the ‘chosen one’ who’s a writer, leading Giamatti on a goose chase around the building. He meets a grumpy film critic, a group of rowdy lads, a crossword puzzle loving Jeffrey Wright and his son who reads cereal boxes, and a dude who only works out his right side of his body. Oh! And Mr M. Night Shyamalan himself, who’s writing a Cookbook that has nothing to do with cooking. Right.

I’m being way too detailed here, let’s speed things up a bit.

Old lady says that for Story to get home, they need a Guardian, a Healer, a Translator, a something else (I forgot) and a Guild.

The Translator turns out to be the puzzle fan’s kid, who stares at a cupboard of cereal to work out they need to perform a ceremony.

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I really wasn’t kidding about the cereal you guys…

The Healer is some other lady who sees butterflies everywhere by the pool.

The Guild is the group of lads, who decide the best way to get Story home is to throw a huge party for the grumpy film critic.

Cue party time, and suddenly about 200 people live in this weird complex.

There’s a band, and them playing is crucial to the ceremony apparently, but they aren’t paying attention, and getting someone to go and tap them on the shoulder is out of the question for some reason.

The grass wolf has managed to find his way into the complex at this point, and ends up eating the film critic after he does this weird speech. Does Shyamalan hate critics? I bet he did after releasing this movie. Maybe he saw it coming, and just didn’t care.

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Turns out this guy saves the day in the end. By staring at the grass wolf.

I just lost it at this point, seriously. A giant eagle flies overhead and takes Story away, and then the credits rolled.

WHAT. THE. HELL. YOU. GUYS.

Dare I ask, has M. Night Shyamalan made anything worse than this? I need to know, just in case I have a sudden lapse in judgement and find myself with nothing better to watch on a Sunday night.