Category Archives: War Movie Reviews

12 Strong (2018)

12 Strong (2018)

Besides what I saw in the trailer, I was not aware of the true story that this film depicts.  How was this not more widely publicized?

12 Strong is a true story about 12 Special Forces soldiers sent on a covert operation in Afghanistan, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  They are the first boots on the ground.  The group teams up with an Afghan leader, and together on horseback, they try to take down the Taliban.

The movie is based on the book “Horse Soldiers” by Doug Stanton.  It is directed by Nicolai Fuglsig.

The noteworthy cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Navid Negahban, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad Luckinbill, Austin Stowell, Rob Riggle, William Fichter, Fahim Fazli, Numan Acar, and Taylor Sheridan.

12 Strong is the best war movie that I have seen since American Sniper (2014).  It is done in a similar style as Lone Survivor (2013).  It is an amazing untold story that everyone should know about.  It tells the story about America’s immediate response after the 9/11 attacks.

This is easily Chris Hemsworth’s best film.  His role as a soldier was quite believable.

Michael Shannon and Michael Pena also give very likable performances.

The flow to the story was very fluid.  I credit the film quality to the unknown director Nicolai Fuglsig.  A film with such epic proportions cannot be easy to direct.  Especially one this good.

The convincing sets and realistic battle scenes make you feel like you are watching on the battlefield.  It is a war movie, so there is a lot of quality brutal violence.  The special effects are good, but not overdone.

The story itself, was what was most surprising to me.  The U.S. sends twelve men into Afghanistan to respond to the 19 terrorists that took out the World Trade Center.  The covert operation sees those twelve men joining forces with Afghan soldiers on horseback to try to systematically takedown the Taliban.  Horses against tanks, rockets, and other heavy artillery.  Who would’ve thought?

That is fascinating to me.  It’s the 21st century.  The greatest country in the world is attacked with their own planes.  And, their response is on horses in the desert.  Reading that out loud sounds pretty harsh.  But, that is why this is such an interesting and incredible story.  This is not me talking down about the story it all.  That is me praising it.  If you have not seen it and it sounds interesting to you, go see it now!

I rate this movie a on a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

Lone Survivor (2013)

American Sniper (2014)

Fury (2014)

Unbroken (2014)

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)

The Pianist (2002)

We Were Soldiers (2002)

The 15:17 to Paris (2018)


The Book Thief (2013)

The Book Thief Poster

The Book Thief (2013)



The Book Thief is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of innocence, stolen.

I’ve always been drawn to stories about World War II.  Movies about WWII have a tendency to be very powerful films if done correctly.  I think that this is because it was such a hard and troubling time in the world when Hitler was in power.

The Book Thief Rush Watson Girl

The movie is based off of the novel with the same name by Markus Zusak.  The film is about Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), a young girl without a family in Nazi Germany during WWII.  She gets taken in and adopted by a couple who also hide a Jewish boy under their stairs.  With all of the terrible things going on around her, Liesel takes comfort in learning how to read.  She begins to read whatever books that are available to her.  Eventually she starts stealing books and sharing them with her new family.

The film was directed by Brian Percival and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Joachim Paul Assbock, Kirsten Block, Roger Allam, Nico Liersch and Sandra Nedeleff.

The film was slower, but a true drama.  It depended solely on acting and story to get its point across.  Don’t expect an action-packed war movie.  However, a story about Nazi Germany during WWII is intense enough.  Although the story is pretty serious, I liked how there was a bit of humor thrown in to cut the tension and make it more enjoyable.

The Book Thief

The Book Thief had some similarities to the movie The Pianist (2002), except that it was not as intense.

I will admit, the touching story made me shed a few tears.  The movie does a great job of making you care about the characters.  The acting draws you into the story.

Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse both deliver genuinely heartfelt performances.  The presence of Rush was what was needed to make everyone act on a higher level.  He was the glue that held the movie together.

The set was a work of art.  Germany during the late 30s and early 40s was duplicated very believably.  That task could not have been a simple one.

The only thing that I thought was a little weird about the movie was the way that it was narrated.  The only explanation that I can think of as to why it was done the way that it was is maybe that was how it was narrated in the book.  Regardless, it comes off as a little odd.  The narration style does not seem to fit the type of film that The Book Thief is.


I applaud the filmmakers for getting a movie like this one made.  In a movie world so consumed with special effects, action, sequels, superheroes, and unoriginality, The Book Thief is the type of film that we need more of.  It’s a genuinely refreshing story that takes plenty of risks.

I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Lone Survivor (2013)

Lone Survivor Poster

Lone Survivor (2013)


You will laugh, and you will cry.  They live, they fight, and they die.

I was very excited to see Lone Survivor.  When I learned of the movie months ago, I knew it would be one that I had to see.  Recently, I heard from numerous people that the film was amazing, and that just made me want to see it more.  These days, if Mark Wahlberg is in a movie, you can basically expect gold.

Film Title: Lone Survivor

The film is based on the book with the same title which was written by Marcus Luttrell and is based on his true story.  It’s about a group of Navy SEALS on a covert operation in Afghanistan that goes horribly wrong.  Four SEALS are left severely outnumbered and outgunned and behind enemy lines.  Unable to make radio contact, they are forced to stand together as one and try desperately to fight the local Taliban for their survival.

The movie was directed by Peter Berg and the noteworthy cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, Yousif Azami, Ali Suliman, Alexander Ludwig, and Jerry Ferrara.

I had vaguely heard of the mission that was portrayed in Lone Survivor, but ultimately, I hardly new any of the details before watching the film.  I’m not sure how much of the story went by the book, and what was fictionalized for pure entertainment purposes.  I have not read the book, but it would be interesting to see how it differs from the movie.

Lone Survivor is a superb depiction of the camaraderie and brotherhood that is commonly found in the Navy SEALS.  The actors walked the walk, and talked the talk.  They were large, bulky instruments that were trained to kill and trained to survive.  They fight like soldiers and they curse like soldiers.  This film does not edit itself for a lighter rating.  It’s as real as I’ve ever seen.  Prepare yourself to be shocked.

Lone Survivor Barracks

This movie has some of the most insanely realistic and severely intense battle scenes that I have ever seen in a film.  Although I knew that I was in a theatre watching a film, it was as if I was watching real footage of actual soldiers at war, and not actors pretending for a camera.

Lone Survivor is a trip into hostile territory.  The movie reminded me of how I felt about Saving Private Ryan (1998) when I saw it for the first time.  It’s an epic achievement.  The film changes the way that you look at the war movie genre.  It raises the bar and leaves huge shoes to fill for any future war movie.  It’s a game changer.  I have a feeling that this movie will be hard to beat for years to come.  The genre has now been reestablished.

The cast was a force to be reckoned with.  Everyone was awesome.  Wahlberg stood out above the rest and he continues to add to the arsenal of reasons why I like him.  He has become one of my favorite actors.  He is a consistent entertainer in the movie world and that is a rare thing in this day and age.

Lone Survivor Wahlberg

This movie should be an Oscar contender.  It would be a crime if it didn’t win something.  It would be an excellent way to honor all of the Navy SEALS that fought for their brothers standing next to them.

I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Buy.

Note: Lone Survivor could deserve a higher rating, but it has to live up to the test of time before it gets one from me.

There was a bit of a disturbance in the densely populated theatre where I watched this film.  A man in the same row as mine was yelling obscenities during the first half of the movie.  He started to violently strike the seats in front of him before he was finally removed from the premises.  I was unable to give my full attention to the first part of the movie because of this distraction.  It was unfortunate, but when I watch the movie for a second time, my rating could possibly change.

Emperor (2012)

Emperor Poster

Emperor (2012)

I have always wondered what Japan would have been like at the end of WWII when the Japanese surrendered.  It seems to me there would be a lot of chaos and resentment during the rebuilding process.

Emperor is based on the book “His Majesty’s Salvation” by Shiro Okamoto.  When WWII ended and the Japanese had surrendered, General Fellers (Matthew Fox) was given 10 days to weed through the intricate web of power surrounding the Emperor and detain the men responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He was also ordered to figure out whether or not Emperor Hirohito was a war criminal and if he should be hanged.  During his investigation, Fellers was also on a personal quest to find his missing Japanese girlfriend, Aya (Eriko Hatsune).

Emperor Fox Aya

The film was directed by Peter Webber and the rest of the noteworthy cast includes Tommy Lee Jones, Colin Moy, Takataro Kataoka, Masato Ibu, Isao Natsuyagi, and Kaori Momoi.

This is the first movie of its kind that I have seen.  The film was not quite the powerful film that it could have been.  However, it was put together nicely, well acted, and well directed.

I thought that the film did an excellent job depicting the ruins of Japan.  It was eerie seeing the aftermath of entire cities that had been obliterated.

Emperor Fox Tommy Lee Jones

The movie felt like it was actually taking place right after WWII.

I feel that Matthew Fox has recently proved himself as a capable actor.  It was the film Alex Cross (2012) that made me take him seriously.  He did a good job in Emperor.

It was yet another no-nonsense role for Tommy Lee Jones and he played the part as well as he always does.

Emperor Tommy Lee Jones

The film did a great job of telling a story that I am sure that a lot of people are not familiar with.  If you are a fan of WWII movies like I am, then you will probably enjoy this one.  It felt a little slow at times because there are a lot of conversations with translators translating back and forth.  They go back and for between that and using subtitles and it makes the film seem longer than it really is.

There is not a whole lot of violence or language and the movie was very tastefully made.

I rate this movie a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  Rent.

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious Basterds poster

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Inglourious Basterds is a World War II film of epic proportions.  I think the title of the movie is enough to turn some people off from wanting to see it.  That is unfortunate because those people don’t know what they are missing.  The film is absolutely incredible.  At the time that I saw it, I did not think that Quentin Tarantino was capable of making such a perfect movie.  He writes, directs, and has an uncredited part in the film.

“Once upon a time in Nazi-occupied France…”

A group of Jewish American soldiers known as The Basterds, along with a famous German actress and, a Jewish girl seeking revenge, all find themselves in a plot to try to kill high ranking Nazi leaders.

Inglourious Basterds Roth Pitt close up

Inglourious Basterds is one of my favorite films of all time.  It is definitely in my top 5 and maybe even in my top 3.  I wish I had seen it in the theatre.  I was a little bit skeptical of the movie when it first came out, and therefore I ended up waiting to watch it on DVD.  Big mistake!  If they brought it back to the theatre tomorrow, I would see it in a heartbeat.

The film has everything.  Love, hate, blood, guts, war, beautiful landscapes, spies, traitors, loss, tragedy, revenge, hope, tension, an excellent story, a huge cast of amazing characters, a great director, a perfect script, and just enough humor to bring everything together.

Inglourious Basterds is probably Brad Pitt’s best movie.  It is definitely his best character, but it is a toss-up between this movie and Fight Club (1999), although in recent years he has chosen his roles very wisely.

Quentin Tarantino managed to not only get a perfect cast, but somehow he got the best possible performances out of most of them.  It is amazing how incredibly awesome everyone in the movie is.  This is Tarantino’s best movie.  He may come close, but I don’t think that he will ever top this film.

Inglourious Basterds Waltz

Christoph Waltz broke into American movies with his part in this film.  Up until Inglourious Basterds, he was basically just a well-known foreign actor, mostly in Germany.  His performance in the movie was nothing less than perfect and nobody could have done a better job.  He did receive the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor which he wholeheartedly deserved.  As I mentioned in my Django Unchained (2012) review, he received the same award in back-to-back Tarantino directed films.  Those are both 2 characters that have really stuck in my mind.  He got the role of a lifetime twice.

Inglourious Basterds Laurent

Like Waltz, Melanie Laurent came out of nowhere and was just astonishing.  I can’t think of an actress off the top of my head that in recent years has done a better job than she did in this film.  The only actress that could maybe come close is Diane Kruger also for her role in this film.

Inglourious Basterds Bender Kruger

Eli Roth gave the best performance of his acting career.

The not very well-known Daniel Bruhl made his mark in this film and let his presence be known.

Inglourious Basterds 3 Basterds

Til Schweiger has been acting for a while, but his breakout performance was definitely in this film.  Any reference to him will be a reference to this movie.

This was Mike Myers best movie since Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002).

Michael Fassbender was an up-and-comer before he made this movie and now he is a household name.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the part of the narrator and you also hear the voice of Harvey Keitel.

The movie also includes Gedeon Burkhard, B.J. Novak, Omar Doom, August Diehl, Denis Menochet, Sylvester Groth, Martin Wuttke, Julie Dreyfus, Richard Sammel, Alexander Fehling, Rod Taylor, Samm Levine, Christian Berkel, and Lea Seydoux.

If you have not seen Inglourious Basterds then after you finish reading this review, stop what you are doing, drop everything and go out and buy it immediately.  It is that good.  I am not kidding.  Go now!

Inglourious Basterds Pitt Knife

I rate this movie a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

Buy, rent, or run?  BUY!