Check out senior Abby Wolfenden's review of classic movies with release dates ranging from the 1990s to 2016. Creative Commons image: OscarNow on Flickr.
By Abby Wolfenden
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Summary: Saving Private Ryan tells the harrowing journey of Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and a group of soldiers to find Private Ryan, a soldier whose three older brothers have already died in the war. The movie follows these men all the way from D-Day to the final battle against the enemy in a small town in Germany. The men of the second Ranger Battalion find themselves faced with unimaginable choices, death, and the worst war ever fought by man.
Recommendation: Saving Private Ryan is possibly the best war movie of all time, with 5 academy awards and a collection of superb actors including Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Vin Diesel, and Tom Sizemore. This film is one of the most action packed, best written films I have ever seen, and it is definitely one to show you the true terrors of war.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Summary: Based on the true story of the Battle of Mogadishu and Operation Gothic Serpent, Black Hawk Down is the story of Sergeant Eversmann and a collection of special forces units, including Delta Force, Task Force Rangers, and Navy Seals. The battle was fought in the capital of Somalia, in an effort to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Mogadishu while simultaneously capturing lieutenants of the warlord and self proclaimed president, Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The mission was supposed to take an hour, but as thousands of Somali militiamen fired upon the 160-men U.S. team, two black hawk helicopter were shot down and a bloody two day battle ensued.
Recommendation: Black Hawk Down is a fantastic movie, with 2 academy awards under its belt. While most war movies are based on WW2, The Vietnam War, The Iraq War, or the War in Afghanistan, this movie is especially interesting due to the detailed description of the civil war in Somalia, which killed hundreds of thousands of civilian and caused widespread famine. Black Hawk Down is a horrifyingly realistic depiction of war, and it is sure to make you cry.
American Sniper (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%
Summary: American Sniper is a biographical film of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle and his role as a sniper during his four tours in the Iraq War. He faces moral struggles, PTSD, and estrangement from his young family back home. The film captures the grueling process for becoming a Navy Seal, and it details the horrible truths of the war in Iraq for both civilians and soldiers.
Recommendation: Bradley Cooper’s stunning performance portrays how war deeply affects an individual’s moral compass and how one’s fellow comrades become a deep-rooted brotherhood. I highly recommend this film, not only because of its two academy awards and talented actors, but because it shows Americans what hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers face every day both on tour and at home.
Lone Survivor (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Summary: Lone Survivor is the the true story of the failed Operation Red Wings counter-insurgent mission and the four-man Seal Team comprised of Navy Seals Marcus Luttrell, Michael Murphy, Danny Dietz, and Matthew “Axe” Axelson. After being seen by a group of local shepherds, the team makes the difficult decision to adhere to their own moral code as well as the rules of engagement by letting the group return to the village. What comes after is a horrible battle in which the four man seal team is hopelessly outnumbered.
Recommendation: The story of this Seal Team demonstrates the power of human resolve and brotherhood. At times this film can be gruesome and disheartening, but the strength of each man on the team is inspiring to watch. This film makes you feel a great sense of gratitude for what our soldiers in Special Forces endure for our country.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Summary: Hacksaw Ridge is an incredible recount of Desmond Doss, a combat medic in World War 2 who refused to use a weapon to kill. A devout Christian, he firmly believes in the commandment “thou shall not kill.” Doss faces harassment and extreme criticism for his refusal to yield a weapon, by those who claimed he was unfit to serve. Despite his disbelievers, Doss is a valuable medic and saves dozens of lives. Hacksaw Ridge details the true story of one man’s faith and determination, and an individual account of the Battle of Okinawa in Japan.
Recommendation: This film develops extremely well, giving us context into Doss’ background. As a child, he nearly killed his brother, which explains his adamance about not killing. Doss’ character builds well and this helps us to see him not as a coward who won’t take a life, but as a hero who wants to save lives. The sound in this movie is amazing and sounds very realistic, and it was awarded an Academy Award for best sound mixing. I recommend this film to anyone interested in World War 2.