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tomelce's Review

Created Sep 19, 2009 10:07AM PST • Edited Sep 19, 2009 10:07AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Very Good 3.5

    For a long time, Saving Private Ryan is heading in the direction of masterpiece territory, conidently and powerfully analysing the horrific implications of war without sparing the violence in the way Spielberg’s less brutal but still perfect Empire of the Sun did, but embracing – for better or worse – the cold bloodshed of it all. Here, the film ranks up there with the greats in the genre, those being movies as Apocalypse Now and The Thin Red Line (the latter produced the same year). Alas, when Tom Hanks’s Capt. John H. Miller steps up and gives his “I’m a teacher,” speech, Saving Private Ryan begins a downslide. The war scenes – such as the non-sugarcoated storming of the beach of the opening minutes – of the former half are replaced and cheapened by a latter half that turns these sequences of gunfire and merciless blasts in to slow-motion nightmares of the schmaltzy kind, Spielberg bringing to the proceedings something more in the style of his sickly addition to The Twilight Zone: The Movie – the film is worse for all of it. That isn’t to say that the sentimentality Spielberg brings forth is exclusively dreary. Indeed, the bookends set in a gravesite for the fallen ones of the World Wars are the most sentimental and touching moments. Meanwhile, a shot in which the mother of the titular Private Ryan (played in-the-flesh by a poor Matt Damon) and his three brothers glances out the window to see the bad news telegrams being driven towards her is the most emotionally crushing moments in all of cinema. Shame Spielberg only manages to be consistently excellent for a time, ultimately turning the climactic death scene into something equating only pap. A war great that might have been, Saving Private Ryan instead has to settle for simply being a decent war movie in its own right.

  3. Great 4.0

    Hanks gives his Capt. John H. Miller the perfect portrayal, though the dreary supporting performance by Matt Damon – who should’ve been switcheroo’d with the actor playing the film’s red-herring version of Ryan – pulls down the collectively great performance of the ensemble. Damon is most certainly the weak link here.

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Really Great 4.5
  8. Great 4.0

    Visually, the film is pristine, so it’s a shame when Spielberg doesn’t always consistently match up such a palpable aesthetic with astute storytelling.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Great 4.0
  11. Music Really Great 4.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Sordid 2.6

    These weapons of war are unsparing.

  15. Sex Innocent 1.3
  16. Violence Savage 3.6
  17. Rudeness Profane 2.8
  18. Glib 1.1
  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.1
  20. Biological Glib 1.1
  21. Physical Glib 1.1


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Sep 19, 2009 9:09PM

Regarding tomelce’s Review
Wow Tom. You’re pulling no punches. I like your fearlessness.

I haven’t seen Private Ryan end-to-end since it came out. Now I’m thinking I ought to rescreen it so I can weigh in.