(Review originally written at 16 December 2005)

"We Were Soldiers" is a nicely made movie but isn't exactly memorable, original or impressive enough to leave a lasting impression.

There are several problems I had with this movie. Perhaps the biggest problem was that it wasn't easy to follow. It was hard to tell who was where at the moment fighting. Basically all we ever get to see are the Americans and the NVA shooting at each other through bushes and running towards each other. The movie lacks a sense of scale and because of that the movie also doesn't ever really become realistic. It's interesting that they also show the NVA side of the battle, something that's a very rare thing in a Vietnam-war movie but it's all done in a very shallow and formulaic way.

Which brings me to another problem I had with this movie. It's all too formulaic and not original enough. The characters are build up in a sappy way and they lack substance and aren't likable or interesting enough. And having dying soldiers saying 'tell my wife I love her' has got to be one of the biggest movie clich├ęs in movie history. There were really some scene's that made me cringe such as the scene in which a dying soldier says 'I'm glad I could die for my country'. I know it is wrong but I actually laughed and I mean really laughed during that scene. It was so embarrassing and totally unrealistic to look at. It took away all of the emotions and sense of desperateness and danger. It was a very over-dramatized and because of that also not a believable enough movie, to follow. They over-dramatized it even more to add the wives of the soldiers to the storyline. For me those sequences didn't worked and were only distracting and felt unnecessary.

The movie is good looking and the battle sequences are nicely set up but it never becomes really tense or spectacular. Because of that "We Were Soldiers" is a good looking movie that is worth watching just maybe once but at the same time is also very forgettable movie that lacks real substance.

The excellent musical score by Nick Glennie-Smith is wonderful though and is to be honest the only reason why I ever wanted to see this movie.

There are better and more realistic Vietnam war movies to watch out there instead. Randall Wallace has created a sappy, over-the-top dramatic movie that doesn't make an awfully large impression.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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