Thursday, October 9, 2008

Miracle at St. Anna

Spike Lee is back in business. Two in a row that are solid movies. He's back.

No more good one, bad one, good one, bad one.

Inside Man was a solid bank heist movie. Miracle at St. Anna proves Lee's technical and storytelling prowess by delving into his first war drama with the same panache as his classics like Clockers, Crooklyn and Malcolm X.

For the vast majority of the film, Miracle is a compelling piece of (loosely) historically based drama that keeps the audience drawn in and offers characters that are complex and fascinating. These kind of characters are rather common in war movies, but it is usually just a couple that are interesting. Miracle has a full contingent of multi-faceted characters backed up by 99% solid performances.

The only failing of this movie is the ending. Now, I will admit that I am often picky about endings for movies, and it's rare that a movie sneaks up on me and I don't see the ending coming. But Miracle at St. Anna has no need to take the ending that it does. The final scene of the movie does not even fit the overall tone of the entire film. It feels forced and contrived.

If Spike Lee had just called it quits before the final sequence, the movie would have closed with a less-than-happy ending and would have been outside the Hollywood norm, but it would have fit the pacing and the tone of the movie.

Other than that, it apparently had some historical inaccuracies, but a: I'm not a history scholar, so I really don't know about those claims, and b: it is a work of fiction based on true events. Are there any movies that are 100% historically accurate?

The best directors in the business are the only ones able to jump from genre to genre with even success and put out consistently good movies. Spike Lee proves once again that he deserves to be in those ranks.

Miracle of St. Anna earns a B+ overall, but would have been an A if it had a better ending.
--John Berry, Online Editor--

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