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.

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Review: Ready Player One (2018)

ready-player-one-review-2018-movieI can’t believe I finally got to see Ready Player One, a movie I’ve been waiting for for 2 years last week, and I’m only just writing about it now. In my defence, I’ve been kept busy in the evenings playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and y’no, I have a baby. A baby who is currently napping waving her blanket in the air and babbling, so this may take a while. Mornings like these make me really want to slip on a VR headset and enter the OASIS!

The movie is set in the not-too-far-away future where we’re all addicted to virtual reality. The creator of this VR called the OASIS has passed away and left behind a competition for everyone in the form of an easter egg hunt. Whoever can find all 3 keys which lead to the egg will win full ownership of the OASIS. It’s a lot to take in, but a good chunk of the opening of the movie explains it all in a fair amount of detail. I’ve read the book so I knew the story anyway, but I do question how much a fresh viewer would take in.

Our focus is on Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan), better known by his avatar’s name, Parzival. Wade lives in ‘the Stacks’, a run-down area formed of caravans stacked on top of each other. Wade and his best friend Aech (Lena Waithe) along with fellow ‘Gunters’ (egg hunters) Art3mis (Olivia Cooke), Daito (Win Morisaki) and Sho (Philip Zhao) form an alliance to find the egg before corporate douchebag Sorrento (Ben Mendelsohn) and his army beat them to it.

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My favourite thing about this movie adaptation is the casting – it couldn’t be more perfect. It’s so hard when a beloved book comes on to the big screen and your visions of the characters are shattered by odd casting choices. I couldn’t have chosen a better cast myself in this case. Mark Rylance as the awkward creator of the OASIS is spot on, and I had the goofiest grin on my face every time Ben Mendelsohn showed up. I’m just so gutted that Simon Pegg’s character Ogden wasn’t around very much because he was a much bigger character in the book.

Of course, a lot of the movie is set within the OASIS, so rather than seeing these actors we actually see their avatars, so as you can imagine, it’s CGI-heavy. Rather than it being an attack on the senses though it’s absolutely stunning. I was SO glad I got to see it in the cinema for that reason!

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As you’ve no doubt heard, Ready Player One is packed to the brim of 80’s and gaming references. It’s done so tastefully though that even if you recognise none of them, the movie won’t be spoiled for you. Rather than being thrown at your face all the time, it’s just constantly there in the background, making rewatches a lot of fun I imagine as you’ll spot things you may have missed the first time around.

I loved it if you can’t tell, and my only gripes are from changes from the book, which I know can never be helped. 4 and a half easter eggs from me, which reminds me that I think I still have some left-over chocolate in the cupboard…

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Nevermind – my baby just woke up from her nap.