Overlord (2018)

Overlord (2018) – IMDB

Overlord is an interesting hybrid of war and horror genres. It’s nothing entirely new, the idea of Nazi experiments being hellishly realized. Call of Duty Zombies and Frankenstein’s Army have toyed with this idea among others. Can’t say any are classics with possibly Dead Snow being close candidate. (COD Zombie could be great if transitioned from video game to the moving pictures screen. Even better, Wolfenstein. Yes, please.)

The first 10-15 minutes when the troops had to jump from the burning, airborne plane soaked my attention. It was intense and had a great start for our heroes’ journey to destroy a tower. I forgot I was watching a zombie horror until an unnatural discovery in the woods reminded me it was not just a WWII film. I’m not going to say it was a problem, the tonal shifts, movies have accomplished this before, thanks From Dusk Till Dawn. Overlord feels more grounded and has a sense of a realistic approach to war. Not what I was expecting, thinking I was in for something that had some camp/less seriousness or a more self aware identity; a more traditional B-movie. Meaning they played more with the topic of the movie, experimented more with the “Thousand Year Reich” idea. Like don’t just show me how nasty Nazis were, show how nasty their creations were; guess I’m saying I was looking for various types of monstrosities on screen. But what is on screen is fun, that is, once we clock in enough time to see it. It does feel like it took awhile to get to why we all pressed play in the first place. Even then I’m not sure if the payload was satisfactory. With that said, and without spoiling, there is a moment when a neck is dislocated and thrust backyards. Very unexpected and satisfyingly grotesque!

The french madame who befriends our fellow soldiers is a real BADASS. She is confronted by a pesky annoyance late in the movie and she handles it like an exterminator fed up with eradicating vermin.

Some moments like the one above impressed me, others left me bored or wondered the characters’ decisions if they actually had to go that route.

To sum up, I had mixed feelings about the latest trek down Hitler’s dream of his invincible army of darkness. Don’t expect this to be anything like Kung Fury or any of the above mentioned titles, this outing is a little more serious in tone. Perhaps I will enjoy the movie more a second time viewing sometime in the future knowing now what happens. Maybe Overlord will gain a cult following, time will tell.

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now (1979) – IMDb

A magnificent film. After just watching Apocalypse Now I still have a profound feeling of being lost in a cruelly insane, dark but beautiful world. Wonderfully shot by Francis Ford Coppola and relishly written. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen with mysterious amazement. I have never seen Vietnam filmed so beautifully and so dangerously. This movie will stand the test of time for it is timeless. One generations will come to watch and seem familiar with because of so many other movies it has inspired today, but still will be viewed as it is iconicly fresh, as in with it’s own zest that can not be coppied. It is brutal, raw, a drug trip down the river hell.

There are some things about this movie you simply can not put down on paper. The imagery will stay with you long after the credits roll. I’m not talking about the shoot outs and the gun-ho scenes at the beginning, for me, it was the smaller imagery that took up a small bit of screen time like an airplane facing nose down in the river and the tail sticking straight out of the water as our unfateful crew boat beneath it. The writing as well is vivid and engrossing, it’s what captured my attention at first. When Willard hears Colonel Kurtz for the first time, and you get the first sense of the guy, it’s over a tape recorder and Kurtz says: “I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.” This is but one example among the single lines, conversations, and monologues that truly stand out and brings the film to another level. i would to make a list of the lines that most impressed me but I believe that will dull the effect of it and will be too long of a list, with the exception of: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The story of Apocalypse Now is a simple one: Capt. Willard must find a rogue soldier, Col. Kurtz, who has gone mad deep in the jungle and he must terminate Him. The lengthy movie (not taking in account it’s extended Redux) is a build up to the final half hour of the intimidating presence of Marlon Brando (Kurtz). He is sly and patient, smart and unpredictable. Kurtz is no ordinary man, he is a soldier who has been awarded many colors and stripes. However, he has reached a breaking point of going geniously mad and becoming a God among the locals and a few mindlessly lost Americans. One of which is Dennis Hopper who is great fun to watch as the photojournalist. When Willard arrives to Kurtz’s domain, he meets the Photojournalist who speaks about Kurtz on another level that makes it more personal and psychological; you learn more about this mad man and what he’s capable of. You start feeling more anguish and a lob in your throat. You start to wonder as Willard does to himself ‘how is he going to confront him? What is going to happen?’ The Vietnam jungle itself is a character. It boasts fear of the unknown into soldiers’ hearts; a labyrinth of lush trees and bushes leading to impending doom, and a hot attitude that will influence the strongest of soldiers to do unspeakable atrocities. Staying in the boat on this death trip away from the trees will not save their souls.

Apocalypse Now takes you on a journey that showcases war of men and horror. It is not easy as the dread sinks in from the first scene and doesn’t let up, dumping buckets as the minutes go by. Every image has its on spectacle and epic beauty. I remember movies on how they make me feel, and this one is worth remembering after all these years since it’s release and more years to come. The moments that happened prior to the conclusion are just as important. It is shot with patience and great magnitude that will leave you speechless after venturing into the Heart of Darkness.

Hell to Eternity (1960) – IMDb

via Hell to Eternity (1960) – IMDb.

Over at my grandfather’s  I’m scanning his book collection which consists of WWII stories and other knowledgeable information on the war. Now he is someone who watches a lot of History Channel or Military Channel and anything in between on WWII to the point my grandma comes in the room and asks him “did Hitler win the war yet?” Among his historical book collection, he pulls out a book titled Saipan by Guy Gabaldon. My grandfather showed me the book was signed by Guy and they even had a few pictures together. I became interested and so I edged my grandpop to tell me more. Certainly, this was an offer he couldn’t refuse, he began to tell me it was about a young man who fought in the pacific and persuaded hundreds of Japanese civilians and soldiers to surrender single handedly. Now that is a great wartime story. After I found out Saipan was made into a full feature length film, knowing me, I located it on Amazon and purchased a copy for my grandfather and I to watch.

To rewind a little, Guy Gabaldon was born in Los Angeles, CA. At an early age he was orphaned and then was raised by a Japanese family who took him in in the 1930s and he even began learning their language and customs. Once 18, he was sent to fight for the U.S. on Saipan in 1944, an island off of Japan. Hell To Eternity starts with build up then the rest is shipped to the islands for the war where marines were getting killed left and right, fortunately Guy knew Japanese and used it to his advantage by communicating with the enemy. This was most helpful when he surprised the Japanese leader and told him to call off the attack or else he, the leader, would be shot. He told Guy that the order was already given, so regardless if he was killed or not the orders would be carried out. Guy takes the general out to call his men off and turn themselves in. Now, if you know Japanese custom, this is dishonorable and you would take your life for your country. The general conveys the message to his troops who are battered and starving and explains to Guy it wasn’t a pretty sight seeing his troops surrender. After hearing their leader’s command they submit and the general takes his life overlooking his several hundred men. Guy Gabaldon courageously turned in 800 hundred Japanese. An amazing, unheard of story I found inspirational and eye opening.

The movie is shot in black and white but the movie moves at a decent pace. Actually, some real WWII footage was used for the landing on the beach. Hell to Eternity is not all that violent but there is blood and many gunshot wounds. Wonderfully shot, the explosions and fight scenes are a great depiction of what happened on Saipan, so no need to worry about boredom. The story, though, is truly the main feat. Everything from seeing Guy’s new found family being sent to an American-Asian camp (who my grandfather even remembers at a young age nice Japanese neighbors being forced to move away) to delivering the unarmed, Japanese soldiers. I found myself relating to this movie, but in a sense of trading and receiving culture. I’ve grown up all over the place and my grandfather is Mexican and I’m Caucasian, and yet we’re very alike. Also, see below picture, right is Guy Gabaldon and left is the actor who portrayed Guy, Jeffrey Hunter. This is like SO Hollywood, getting a white man in Hispanic shoes, no bash though, Jeffrey did a fine job. Culture is everywhere and if we can set everyone’s differences to the side the world would be a more happy place. Family knows no color. I enjoyed this movie and I am happy it’s in my collection already. Do yourself a favor, dig up this classic and give it a watch.