There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
The year is 1917, and World War I has already been raging for almost three years. Britain and Germany have been fighting over a territory in France for some time, and the two sides have been in somewhat of a stalemate, but German forces seemed to have pulled back. Thinking they had Germany on the run, Britain organized what they thought would be a final attack, sending in 1,600 men to attack the German forces. However, new intelligence suggests everything may not have been as it seemed.
The new intelligence suggests that the 1,600 men could be walking into a trap. Unfortunately, communications have been lost, so the only way to stop the attack is to send two men—by foot—through no man’s land, and then enemy territory, to warn the British forces before it is too late. It very well could be an impossible mission, but if British forces are not warned and the attack is not called off, then the 1,600 men could very well be walking into a massacre. Thus, Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) embark on what could be a deadly and hopeless mission make contact with the British forces.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Blake & Schofield (+8pts)
Too Early (-2pts)
Intense Action (+8pts)
The Mission (+8pts)
Defend Yourself (-2pts)
Pro: Blake & Schofield (+8pts)
The dynamic between these two characters was really easy to get invested in. I could feel the brotherhood, I enjoyed their chemistry, and I zreally got a sense that the two characters were devoted to the mission and that they were willing to risk their lives for one another. There really is not much more to say here, other than the fact that the two actors did a really great job with their respective parts. Each character had more than their share of dramatic moments, and each actor absolutely delivered. This was a dramatic and epic war movie, but it was also a personal story about two young men walking through hell together, and the actors brought this to the screen in a compelling way.
Con: Too Early (-2pts)
There was a shocking moment in this movie that sort of changed the direction of the rest of the story. The mission was still the same, and the stakes were still the same as well, but the situation felt more dangerous and the mission felt more impossible. It was surprising shift that I thought was really effective, but I thought it happened too early in the movie. It happened around the halfway point of the story, and I thought it would have been far more impactful if it happened right at the beginning of the third act. Putting this surprise later in the movie would have given us more time to be more invested in the characters involved, and the effective twist would have been added a ton of emotional fuel into the story's climax. Instead, the filmmakers did it early, giving us plenty of time to accept it and move on from it before the movie's climax.
Pro: Intense Action (+8pts)
This was a war movie, so you would expect there to be intense action, and there definitely was. The movie was about two British soldiers traveling—on foot—across no-man’s land and through what they thought was abandoned enemy territory. There was plenty of war action throughout this movie, but the filmmakers spaced it out enough so that I never felt desensitized to it. Then between the action, the characters were sneaking around some horrific scenes, with the possibility of German forces being around every corner, which really ramped up the intensity.
This kept me on the edge of my seat even when action was not happening, and those quieter scenes made the action feel so much more intense. The quieter scenes felt like when things feel too quiet in horror movies, which made me feel like things were about to get crazy at any second. There were a ton of scenes that were incredibly suspenseful, as it felt like the protagonists were just around the corner from danger at all times. The action was intense, and this was boosted by the suspenseful, quieter scenes.
Con: Convenient (-2pts)
There were a number of convenient moments and incidents throughout this movie, but there were two examples that stood out to me more than the rest. The first occurred just after the shocking moment that I mentioned earlier. It was not what happened that I thought was convenient, but it was the oddly convenient timing that made the moment a little silly. The second example was toward the end of the movie, and it was one of those moments where a character was sort of just bumbling around, almost completely unaware of his surroundings, and things just happened to go their way. Both of these moments were somewhat forgivable, as the movie moved on from them pretty quickly, but there were enough oddly convenient moments to make this worth mentioning in this review.
Pro: The Mission (+8pts)
This mission was an effective premise, because it was simple and the stakes were high. Two men had to go warn a large group of British soldiers before they walked into a trap. The two men had to go by foot, and if they failed it would mean the deaths of about 1,600 British soldiers. It was easy to get invested in this mission because of its simplicity and because the stakes were so high, but there was more to the mission's effectiveness than just that.
The mission also very naturally put two men in an underdog story. The odds were stacked against them, which made me want to root for them. Then there was the potential danger looming around every single corner, which made the movie very suspenseful. It was a simple premise, that felt important, suspenseful, and it had me pretty quickly rooting for the protagonists. It was really just a strong premise all around, as it hooked me quickly and it kept me invested right up until the end of the movie.
Con: Defend Yourself (-2pts)
There were a few moments in this movie in which a protagonist had a perfect opportunity to kill a German soldier before that soldier had the opportunity to try to kill them. Instead that protagonist just ran away, leaving himself wide open. This happened a few times throughout the movie, and it always made me feel like the protagonist was making a blatantly horrible decision. Maybe the character was against killing unless it was absolutely necessary, but that was never stated or even implied, so these moments just made the character come across as dumb.
Grade: A- (93pts)
I do not think it is much of an exaggeration to say that there have been about a million war movies. With that in mind, you know these movies will have a fair amount of action, you know they will have some focus on the brotherhood between soldiers, and you know there will be a fair amount of drama. When done poorly, these movies can feel boring, predictable, and over-dramatized. When done right, they can be epic dramas with compelling character stories. 1917 was one of the latter.
There was a decent amount of action, and I really liked the dynamic between the two lead characters. They made this a really easy story to get invested in, and there was even a twist around the halfway point of the movie, which felt like it changed the entire game. I had my minor issues with the movie, but it was a suspenseful, and interesting war story about two soldiers who went through hell together. It was a perfect blend between epic action, compelling drama, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. It had a simple and effective plot, and it had two compelling characters played by two talented actors. It was a good movie that I think you will enjoy—regardless of whether or not you are a fan of war movies—and it was one that I really enjoyed watching.