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The Thin Red Line

A movie directed by Terrence Malick

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There Sure Is Much Thinking In This Film

  • Sep 29, 2007
What a pity "The Thin Red Line" is. What a pity that it was released the same year of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan." What a pity that it was nominated for Best Picture against Spielberg's aforementioned "Saving Private Ryan." What a pity this movie has always been in the shadows of "Saving Private Ryan." What a pity that I should see it the day after I see "Saving Private Ryan." Like "Saving Private Ryan," "The Thin Red Line" takes place during World War II. The battle that "The Thin Red Line" covers though is the Battle of Guadalcanal. Beautiful, beautiful Guadalcanal. A place so beautiful, that I suspect most of talent involved in this film were involved for the sole purpose of visiting that beautiful land.

Even the movie itself seems to be more interested in the land then the story, as the story is a mess. A captivating mess, but a mess nonetheless. One that is very untidy and very irritating to be around for too long. Unfortunately, the movie clocks in ten minutes shy of three hours, and effectively overstays its welcome. The movie poster/box highlights many big stars, such as Oscar winner Sean Penn, Oscar winner Adrien Brody, Oscar Winner George Clooney, Oscar nominee John Travolta, Oscar nominee John C. Reilly, Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson...there is some MAJOR talent behind this movie! I can't stress this enough. Yet most of these actors make glorified cameos, while Nick Nolte and Jim Caviezel (who are the closest things we have to protagonists in this movie) get billing UNDER the title!

Heck, Adrien Brody is billed as the second major star on the poster above the title, yet is in the movie for about...3 minutes or so. Trust me, I counted. You probably are now reading more information on actor billing then you probably care to, but I stress this because story, character development, and star power is very absent in this film. There are scenes where Jim Caviezel remembers his wife at home through flashbacks. There are moments when Nick Nolte argues with his soldiers (most of whom are nameless and unknown). Sometimes a random narrator narrates the movie (most of the time it sounded like John Travolta, though he was only on screen for 2 minutes and 21 seconds). Most of the time though it's beautiful scenery, characters starring at each other for long periods of time, and once in awhile things will start blowing up.

As a movie, I'm not sure what the purpose was when they decided to make it. There is much skill behind the craft to be sure. The cinematography, special effects, and camera work is all very impressive. This is a great looking and sounding film. But it just sits there. Not much happens most of the time and we never really get a sense that anything is happening. No main characters to follow, no major mission is being fulfilled, nothing that really matters. I just don't get it. There's a great movie somewhere in this mess, I just can't seem to find it. What a pity, for I'd sure like to see that great movie someday.

Rating: * and a half stars

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More The Thin Red Line reviews
review by . May 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     The last time I saw a Terrence Malick film was when I watched "Days of Heaven". I swore I would see more of his work, and as you can see, I haven't been so faithful to that promise. So here I am reviewing Malick's third film, "The Thin Red Line", which sees the legendary artistic mastermind tackling a genre I always imagined he would tackle; the war genre. Malick is good at flawlessly directing his films, adding beautiful cinematography to intensify mood …
review by . October 28, 2004
Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest directors ever to breath, stood firm in naming The Thin Red Line as one of the top ten most important films of the 1990's. I couldn't agree more.    The Thin Red line is an incredible achievement. It doesn't take half a brain nowadays to create an all out action fest, with fast editing and mindless violence. Malick stands out on his own and selectively chose a film that concentrates on then internal war of the mind, which just happens to be …
review by . January 19, 2003
Critics raved about the director's past work. Were eager to see new work, especially such an attractive cast in such an ambitious subject. They saw the movie. The movie was "artsy." They raved.But did anyone understand it? I don't care how "philosophical" it was, or how pretty the flowers on the island looked in contrast to the brutality of war. I know it was an anti-war statement (at least I imagine it was). But any "issue" movie still needs to have a coherent plot. It was virtually impossible …
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Kevin T. Rodriguez ()
Ranked #127
Kevin T. Rodriguez is an aspiring film journalist. He's more comfortable typing a review then doing an on-camera appearance, but he loves doing the occasional rant. Whether it be on movies, eBay, or comics, … more
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One of the cinema's great disappearing acts came to a close with the release ofThe Thin Red Linein late 1998. Terrence Malick, the cryptic recluse who withdrew from Hollywood visibility after the release of his visually enthralling masterpieceDays of Heaven(1978), returned to the director's chair after a 20-year coffee break. Malick's comeback vehicle is a fascinating choice: a wide-ranging adaptation of a World War IInovel(filmed once before, in 1964) by James Jones. The battle for Guadalcanal Island gives Malick an opportunity to explore nothing less than the nature of life, death, God, and courage. Let that be a warning to anyone expecting a conventional war flick; Malick proves himself quite capable of mounting an exciting action sequence, but he's just as likely to meander into pure philosophical noodling--or simply let the camera contemplate the first steps of a newly birthed tropical bird, the sinister skulk of a crocodile. This is not especially an actors' movie--some faces go by so quickly they barely register--but the standouts are bold: Nick Nolte as a career-minded colonel, Elias Koteas as a deeply spiritual captain who tries to protect his men, Ben Chaplin as a G.I. haunted by lyrical memories of his wife. The backbone of the film is the ongoing discussion between a wry sergeant (Sean Penn) and an ethereal, almost holy private (newcomer Jim Caviezel). The picture's sprawl may be a result of Malick's method of "finding" ...
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