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Old 06-02-2010, 03:14 PM
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Default My Movie Review - Hurt Locker..and what I learned..

Avatar has got me interested in the movies again. Especially since it did not win the Best Picture Oscar, I felt I owed it to myself to see if I was biased in favor of Avatar. I just felt that I needed to see a wide range of films to really see how Avatar stood up against the competition.

So far I have seen ‘Slumdog Millionaire”, “Precious”, “An Education”, and “Up”. I really liked “An Education” and I absolutely adored “Up”! It’s my favorite film so far, after Avatar.

I finally rented the Hurt Locker and watched it the other day. I was not looking forward to this, but it had to be done. I wanted to not like this film. But I had to be honest with myself and give it a chance.

My verdict? I have to say the film was pretty good. And I hate to admit that.

**SPOILER ALERT**

I found Hurt Locker very engrossing and intense. There were many gripping moments in the film where you were on the edge of your seat. The first scene where the original leader of the bomb squad is killed is a nail biter. So is the scene where the main character, William James, is trying to diffuse a bomb in a car and it’s taking too long. The other soldiers are getting nervous as they scan the buildings around them and crowds gather to watch. Who is the enemy?

In one riveting section of the film the bomb squad runs into four British intelligence officers who are bringing back prisoners. Unfortunately, the brits had a truck with a flat tire. As the Americans are trying to help them – in an empty desert – shots ring out and one of the brits is killed. Everyone runs for cover, and as the battle rages on all day two more members of the British patrol are killed.

We are initially led to believe that William James is a callous, reckless individual. But throughout the film his character displays caring attributes. In the above battle he selflessly gives his partner a drink after hours in the desert atop a hill as they try to gun down the snipers. He does not drink himself. James also befriends a young Afghan boy who ends up brutally murdered. James tries to find his killers, but is unsuccessful.

The last scene in the movie is the best one. An innocent Afghan man is rigged up to bombs set to go off on a timer. James tries to free the man, but is unable to do so. He says to the guy he is sorry and runs off moments before the man is blown to bits.

Later, we see James return home to the States to his wife and young son. The disconnect between his life at home and at war is humorously stated when we see him in a supermarket isle overwhelmed by the choice of cereals available. We see him talking to his young son and going through the mundane household chores with his wife (a cameo by Evangeline Lilly).

At the end of the film James is back in Afghanistan, happy to be back doing what he loves.

I think now that I have seen HL, I understand why it won the Best Picture. It’s the kind of film that critics, actors, and directors, love. The acting is excellent. The situations the protagonists find themselves in are gripping. The characters are well developed. The day to day stress from never knowing where the next shot is coming from and who is an enemy and who is not is portrayed very well in this film.

None of this is to say that Avatar didn’t have excellent acting and gripping situations for the characters. However, HL is an actors film and a directors film. in the sense that some see it as free of “gimmicks” like motion capture and computer generated worlds, and instead see HL as more “basic” with nothing between the actors and the camera. And the director using that basic camera set up to create tension in the film.

I am playing Devil’s Advocate here, but I think it can help us understand why Avatar was not well received by industry insiders. They have a certain way of looking at the world. To them, Avatar’s computer generated world, and motion capture for actors looks like some sort of video game and not how a “real” film should be shot. Avatar’s popularity also was a strike against it because the Academy and those in the business see themselves as rewarding cinematic achievement and not special effects or popularity. In fact, regular movie goers are not seen as having any understanding of what constitutes a good film.

The media played out the last Academy Awards as a contest between two films, HL and Avatar. But I think that there was really no contest between the two films. Avatar was not even close to getting a best picture nod. The fact that HL had a female director made it too good to pass up for Best Picture

HL is a good film. It’s a shame more people have not seen it. But do I personally think it deserved to win best Picture? Well, no. But I think we were asking too much of industry insiders who have a different view of what constitutes a good film to be able to appreciate what Avatar had to offer. Many were just put off by Avatar at the get-go and could not get around that.

The irony of all this is that only a film that has been seen by a lot of people has any chance of making an impact. But that film also has to have something to say.

HL does not have a message. It simply depicts the realities of soldiers in a particular war. As critics have said, the movies does not pass judgment on the righteousness of that war.

Avatar has a message. And because was seen all over the world my millions of people, its impact will be long lasting. Avatar will be the film people remember 20, 30, 50 years from now.

The other irony – that Avatar, the most successful movie in history, and one of the most influential, is at the very same time the one film most deified by the very industry that has benefited most from it.

Another point that occurred to me is that Hurt Locker may have been the less controversial choice for best picture. I heard that when Kathryn Bigalow accepted the award for HL she said something thanking the troops and did the whole "support the troups" speech. As I stated the film itself does not take a stand on the war one way or the other. Avatar, on the other hand, has attracted a lot of attention - not all of it favorable. From right-wing critics, charges of racism, and the Vatican weighing in, Avatar had a lot of baggage. Plus a LOT of people saw Avatar, as opposed to HL, so there would be more people who would have had an opinion one way or another if Avatar had won.

Did HL gain anything from it's Oscar win? I don't remember it being re-released in theaters. Perhaps it is being rented more often.
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:17 PM
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Wow very good movie review! I really enjoyed reading this.

You don't have to read this next part, and I'll try to keep it short, but when I heared the HL won Oscars, I almost dropped my pasta onto the den floor. I was shocked! It had so many reasons to win and so little to lose. I would explain them but I'm sure people are tired of me saying them from back when the Oscars were and I don't want to start another Oscar argument. But a couple weeks later my friend invited me over to watch movies, and one we watched was the HL. Well then, here we go, lets see if this movie lives up to the Best Picture and Best Director of '09. Was it good? Eh, yea and no. It had its intense, edge-of-your-seat moments, good acting... BUT afterward I just felt nothing. I just felt it was another war movie. Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers were spectacular war movies. They got me really in touch with the soldiers, and with We Were Soldiers, the wives of the soldiers and the nail biting intensity everytime the mailman came up to your front door. Overall for me, HL was just another war movie (like I said, other war movies like Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers were spectacular) but HL just had intense moments, didn't really feel anything after it. Just my two pennies

Sorry if it seems like I'm stealing your thread I'm not trying to just giving my short review. Also thank you for explaining everything as well, you not only said your reasons but explained them very well Cool thing your doing too watching other movies from the Oscars to see how they stacked up... and Up? Loved that movie as well
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:20 PM
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sorry, I don't agree with the OP. I thought that HL was a very mediocre and unrealistic movie.

It is not a patch on movie like Black Hawk Down. HL was effectively a fantasy war movie pretending and failing to be realistic.

There are certain good movies from that I could understand winning best movie oscar over Avatar (if they happened to be released in the same year). But HL is not one of them.
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Old 06-02-2010, 06:30 PM
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Yes, a very good review.

I have to admit, I did not hate the movie by any stretch - It was a pretty good film actually - lots of tense moments and the action scenes were fairly impressive, but I personally think even putting it in the same ballpark as Avatar is completely impossible. The characters were hollow for me. I felt very little empathy with most of the main charaters. The plot wasn't particularly amazing either, more just a series of events put into a specific order...

For me, THL was a good film, but certainly not as earth-shattering as they seemed to make out. Was just another genero-war-drama for me personally.
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Old 06-02-2010, 08:43 PM
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The Hurt Locker was ok I suppose, but honestly it was just another war movie with some good action moments. Was it deserving of the Oscar? IMO no it wasn't, even if Avatar hadn't been released yet there were other movies that had more merit to win best picture. I don't think THL was bad, but I don't think it was really all that good either. It's the kind of film that you watch once and that's usually enough...
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:14 PM
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I still haven't seen it (never will), but I read a thread back on AF which listed how unrealistic it was, but even from the small bit I have seen (that was played during the oscars), I could see it was unrealistic...
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:27 PM
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good review! watched myself, and i just found it kinda boring, with some pretty cool elements
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:33 PM
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Meh, Hurt Locker bored me when I watched it... Didn't really like it at all.
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Old 06-02-2010, 10:36 PM
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i heard so much about it, and it turned out to be meh... and it won so many oscars and Avatar is still waaaaaaaaay better
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Old 06-03-2010, 12:09 AM
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I thought the Hurt Locker was good, but not great.

Consider this concept: and good film is one you enjoy seeing, but a great one is one you enjoy seeing again.

I've seen Avatar 7 times so far.

I feel no need to see Hurt Locker again.

Now, I won't be the crazy fan boy who says that Avatar was a perfect film; in fact the more I see it, the more flaws I find, particularly holes in the script regarding character development and obvious plot movements, but I still found it deeply engrossing and, dare I say, moving.
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Old 06-03-2010, 04:43 AM
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Good review and interpretation of some parts of the Hurt Locker!

With that said, I will respectfully disagree. I did find a couple parts were good, such as the sniper-fight with the Brits- Good scene, but it started to drag on once we were 10 minutes into it. I found a lot of the scenes featuring the bomb-defusal stuff were really not that intense, it definitely didn't have me on the edge of my seat... Kind of exciting, for sure. But not like what other war movies have done for me. Even the semi-cookie-cutter Black Hawk Down I found much more entertaining, if lacking some of the substance.

And now for substance. I do like movies that made me think, but after viewing this all I could really consider was "Okay... So he's an emotionally hurt individual due to all of his tours defusing explosive **** while people threaten to shoot at him and therefore no longer knows how to socially interact with his wife, so he goes back to the 'front' out of frustration."

Really, that's all I got out of the ending. It totally fell flat. I was extremely disappointed.

Maybe I'm biased because I simply could not find a whole lot of reason to sympathize with the character. I like the interpretation of him being a caring, selfless person and I can see where it comes from, but I really couldn't extract that myself. I still kind of see him as a bit of a reckless, emotionally damaged soldier who's just good at his job and helps keep his buddies alive.
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:47 AM
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Here is my problem with the Hurt Locker, I never felt any connection to any of the characters. There was never a scene in the movie where I honestly cared of someone lived or died. I can understand that it is hard to establish a connection, but if I can be tearing up at the end of a 40 minute episode of Doctor Who to a character only in that episode I can't act like it is impossible to establish a connection. I know what the movie was trying to do, but personally I didn't like the way it was executed.
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:01 PM
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Thank you for all your responses to my post. I enjoyed reading them all. My main point in writing the review was that it helped me to understand why the Academy gave HL the Best Picture award, even though I do not believe HL deserved it.

Yes, HL was a good film, but not one I would see again. Been there, done that.

As EwyaBlessMe said, a good film is one you enjoy seeing, but a great one is one you enjoy seeing again!
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