The Eight Hundred (The 800, Bābǎi, 八佰) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A look at the side of WW2 that does not get shown often, which is full of moments that overwhelm you but also full of awkwardness.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

The Eight Hundred (The 800, Bābǎi, 八佰). Image Credit: CMC.

Review

If there is one conflict that has been extensively explored on screen, it is World War Two. Indeed in 2017, we got three different films that explored Dunkirk. Even with all of this coverage, there are still aspects of WWII that have not received the same attention. One of those aspects is the Chinese front which is where our film is set. It started years before the main war and went on to the very end, but we don’t explore it nearly enough. Well, today we look at a film that is trying to change this, and a film backed by the juggernauts of Tencent and Alibaba.

So to set the scene, we open with the collapse of the front lines of the National Revolutionary Army during The Battle of Shanghai. With the Imperial Japanese Army taking the outskirt town of Dachang the city has been lost. However, there is still hope in the retreat. The Revolutionary Army decides to leave a small contingent of troops behind at Sihang Warehouse led by Colonel Xie Jinyuan (Du Chun). They aim to stall the Imperial Army long enough to allow for the retreat of the rest of the army. The second aim is to be an example to the Western powers that have not yet picked a side. This is because the Warehouse is situated right next to the International Settlement in Shanghai, so for one brief moment, the whole world is focused on them. Now because this is a film based on a real event, we will be discussing parts of the plot in a little more depth than we usually would, so please be careful as there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Movie Review – Da 5 Bloods

TL;DR – A powerful film that hurt to watch at times, but I am glad that I did.    

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit moment

Da 5 Bloods. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

There have been a lot of films set during the Vietnam War or explores its aftermath. It is not a noble war like WW2 in people’s minds, it was bloody, unnecessary, and it left shockwaves throughout American society, that we are still living through today. How do you capture a war like that, well some have done it through sceptical, some have done it through horror, and there was that one time was a flying elephant. Today I look at a film that has all of that, okay not the elephant part, while hitting the realities and legacy of the Vietnam War.  

So to set the scene, we open in on a montage of Black America and their experiences in war, specifically Vietnam War or the American War as it is known in Vietnam. This is where we get a crash course on the War from start to finish through a lens we don’t always see. We jump to today in Ho Chi Minh City today where four old friends come together again in a country they once fought in, a place full of memories but also somewhere that has gone through a lot of changes. Paul (Delroy Lindo), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Otis (Clarke Peters) & Eddie (Norm Lewis) have come back to Vietnam for one reason, to find the body of one of their fallen comrades Stormin’ Norman (Chadwick Boseman). However, there may also be a whole lot of gold from the war on the line as well.

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Movie Review – Jojo Rabbit

TL;DR – A very ambitious film and while it does not quite reach the lofty goals it sets for itself, I give it credit for trying when so many others don’t bother.     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Jojo Rabbit. Image Credit: Searchlight Pictures.

Review

I have seen films that have embraced absurdism before, I have seen films that have explored World War Two before, I have never seen an absurdist film about World War Two before, well that is until today. This is a film that honestly I would have loved to be in the pitch meeting for because I have no idea how the hell it got greenlit even though I am glad that it did.

So to set the scene, in the midst of WW2 and living in Nazi Germany we find a young boy called Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis). In the aftermath of his sister dying and his father being away “fighting on the Italian front”, he spends his days at a Deutsches Jungvolk Hitler Youth training camp with his friend Yorki (Archie Yates) run by a very nonplussed Wehrmacht Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell). When recovering from an accident involving a grenade Jojo discovers that his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson) has been hiding a Jewish girl called Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic, which brings Jojo into a moral quandary not helped by the suggestions from his good friend Hitler (Taika Waititi).   

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Movie Review – 1917

TL;DR – This is a film that captures you in the first frame and does not let you go until the ending credits start scrawling     

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

1917. Image Credit: Universal.

Review

Sometimes you go into to see a film and you have no idea that what you are about to watch has been almost tailored just for you. In this case, we have a war film, about just two characters, presented as if it was all filmed in one take. If I was explaining to you what would be the perfect film for me this would not be far off. I bring this up to put some context down before we dive into the world of explosions, gun shots, and every trench under the sun.

So to set the scene, we are in the heights of World War One on the front lines in France, with Germany and their allies on one side and Brittan and their allies on the other. This is trench warfare and every centimetre of territory has been won through a considerable loss of life. It is here where one day Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is roused from his sleep and asked to go on a mission with Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) by General Erinmore (Colin Firth). For you see, overnight the German forces have retreated and many commanders believe that they have them on the run. However, it is actually a ruse, the Germans have just retreated to a more fortified line and they are leading those chasing them into a trap. The boy’s mission is to cross into no-man’s land, travel through enemy controlled territory so they can make it to Colonel Mackenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) in time to call off the attack and save 1600 lives. Now due to the nature of the film and that it has a staggered release date across the world, I am going to be a bit more cautious with my examples so as to not spoil anything.

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Movie Review – Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan

TL;DR – A powerful and deeply compelling film that explores a key moment in Australia’s military history and the cost it took.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a credit sequence and a mid-credit scene

Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan. Image Credit: Transmission Films.

Review

Australia has a long history of making truly excellent war films. From works such as the pivotal Gallipoli to Beneath Hill 60 to The Rats of Tobruk and many more. So walking in I knew that there was a level of quality that was going to be there no matter what. However, for me, I can either be drawn in fully to war film or I can bounce off it like Andy Dwyer off an ambulance, so there was still a little hesitation. But I should not have been concerned because this is some of the best of Australian cinema at the moment.  

So to set the scene, it is 1966 and it is the height of the Vietnam War, a Cold War proxy conflict between the USA and the Soviet Union played out in the context of a civil war between North and South Vietnam. The 1st Australian Task Force headed by Brigadier David Jackson (Richard Roxburgh) is set up in Nui Dat where they send patrols out into the local countryside. One night the camp is attacked by mortars and while the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery were able to target them, the 1st Field Regiment, need to follow up the next day to find the source. Alpha Company didn’t find much, so part in punishment Harry Smith’s (Travis Fimmel) Delta Company was sent out to chase them down while a musical performance was happening back at camp. All was going well until at the rubber plantation at Long Tan the 11th Platoon of D Company came under heavy fire and it is soon discovered that this is not just a raiding party but a full battalion of the North Vietnamese Army heading their way, 100 men against and advance of 2000 and a monsoon is just about to hit.

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Movie Review – The Wolf’s Call (Le Chant du Loup)

TL;DR – A submarine film that knows how to be a great submarine film and have you sitting on the edge of your seat.    

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Wolf's Call. Image Credit: Pathé.

Review

It has been a while since I have watched a good military film, let alone one set on a submarine. There is a level of tension that you can rarely get in other films as two ships hunt each other in the dark. It is a scenario that you can really use to your best advantage if you have the cast that can sell it. Well, today we look at a film that is taking all of these elements, but can they pull it off, well let’s take a look.

In the not too distant future, where America has isolated itself and Russia is on the rise, we open in the waters off Syria. A commando team has been watching the Russian Port at Tarsus and is in need of an evacuation. Luckily France has a submarine offshore for that very reason. However, as the submarine gets into position Chanteraide (François Civil) the ship’s Acoustic Warfare Analysist can here something else out there other than the Iranian frigate, but as there is no submarine with four props it is discounted. That is until it lights the ship up with a sonar blast, alerting the Iranians to the submarines position and everything gets messy real quick. Back at base, everyone is on edge because Russia has invaded Finland, and there are threats of nuclear war. Chanteraide is certain that what he heard was not a drone, but time is running out.     

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TV Review – Game of Thrones: The Bells

TL;DR – The rushed final season is starting to show its issues … badly.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Game of Thrones: The Bells. Image Credit: HBO.

Review

I have honestly been really happy where the final season has been going so far. I liked how Winterfell and A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms were these slow-burn episodes giving us some much-needed character development and interaction. I found The Long Night to be a really emotional experience as the dead came and slaughtered. I was ever really jiving with The Last of the Starks up until that last 15 minutes. It was like a speed boat suddenly threw out its anchor grinding everything to a halt. This means for the first time, I am coming into an episode of this 8th season, and the penultimate episode at that, with a lot of hesitation and I don’t know how to feel about that. 

So to set the scene, last week everyone was celebrating their win over the dead and the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) but there was still one big threat on the horizon. Cersei (Lena Headey) still controls King’s Landing, and with it the legitimacy of the throne. Just one problem Cersei captured Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and beheaded her in front of Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and well that did not go down well. So we begin today with everyone getting ready for the final push but some people have reservations and one of them is Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) who is finally caught out. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. This week we are going to do something a little different and focus our review on different character relationships because it is through these relationships we see the very highs of this episode and the real lows.  

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TV Review – The Orville: Blood of Patriots

TL;DR – A much more mature episode that we have seen in the past looking at the fallout of war and what that does to people

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

The Orville: Blood of Patriots. Image Credit: Fox.

Review

War is hell” it is one of those phrases that gets thrown around all the time by people trying to sound profound, without a real understanding of what that phrase actually means. War means making difficult decisions, one that haunts you at night, ones where there is not clear right option, and ones where even if you are doing the right thing, it may have disastrous consequences. Today’s episode puts the crew in the middle of such a quandary where they have to weigh in the choice of saving a hero or protecting a peace.

So to set the scene, at the end of last week’s episode Identity Part 2, The Planetary Union barely fought off an invasion and only stopped it because the Krill, a mortal enemy, was convinced that there was a bigger threat at play. This week we start off with the news from Admiral Perry (Ted Danson) that after decades of trying the Krill are finally ready to start peace treaty negotiations. This is a big deal because the thought of peace after so many years of war is something everyone can feel. The Orville is sent to a neutral location to meet with a Krill ship to begin the opening prelude to maybe having a peace treaty. As they arrive, they give the Krill a bit of trust and approach with deflectors down only to discover that the Krill ship is firing on one of their own shuttles. The shuttle askes to land, and when it does the crew find Orrin (Mackenzie Astin) and his daughter Lana (Aily Kei) in the badly disabled ship with only basic survival rations left. The Krill demand that they return the man because he is a terrorist putting Ed (Seth MacFarlane) in a very difficult position. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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TV Review – The Punisher: Season One

TL;DR – This is a show that works just because of the charisma of its lead, however, it would have been better if it was more condensed

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Punisher

Review

Without a doubt, The Punisher might be the most difficult character to get right in the Netflix TV Marvel Universe. How do you make a man who murders a lot of people, a lot of people, yet still keep him a relatable character. Revenge driven storylines are thus really hard to make work because of this and for every Punisher or John Wick you have a plethora of others that don’t stick the landing. So the Punisher or Frank Castle first appeared in Season Two of Daredevil (see review) where he was one of the best parts of the entire season. However, the question is can a character like Frank work in a series all by himself? Well, that is what we will be looking at today.

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Movie Review – Darkest Hour

TL;DR – A beautifully realised look at the world of British politics on the onset of WW2, but it loses some of its impact with an unclear portrayal of its central protagonist.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – No

Darkest Hour Banner

Review

Well, today we are looking at our third Dunkirk related film in the last year. Dunkirk (see review) looked at the retreat on the ground, sea, and air, Their Finest (see review) looked at how Britain used the retreat to mobilise the populace, and now Darkest Hour looks at the politics behind it all. Today we are exploring the rise of Winston Churchill from being an outsider of the political spectrum to a wartime ruler facing the might of Hitler and his European blitzkrieg. So in today’s review, we are going to look at the acting and how it captured that moment in time.

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