Miracle at St. Anna Reviews

Page 1 of 83
Super Reviewer
½ June 12, 2010
Band of Brothaz
Super Reviewer
September 29, 2009
whoever wrote the script should be sentenced to 10 courses in remedial scriptwriting 101. What a mess - dialogue right out of a high school play, while beating us over the head with its message, and being completely unable to decide what type of film it wants to be.

We take a prommissing start, with some nice cinematic touches, sprinkle in some odd noir (Torturo and the reporter are right out of a Chandler novel), and then do a 180 into a not very intense war piece that is more about snafus and human frailties than anything else (the writer even feels compelled to explain snafu - good grief!).

In attempting to explain all the bizarre situations, there are still holes a mile wide in the narrative, and often actors are left either over emoting or trying to get some kind of feel for the lousy dialog they have to speak.

The final payoff is contrived and ridiculous, and the little "sermon" given by the savior's servent is laughable and cringe worthy (closeup into the camera - as if we didn't already know that this drivel was the "message").

What a disappointment!
Super Reviewer
½ January 17, 2009
2 hours and 40 minutes is a long time to endure a barrage of one-dimensional characters. Unlike other recent war films that vividly capture the chaos and mayhem of battle, Miracle at St. Anna seems contrived and overly scripted. This isn't combat through the eyes of soldiers, this is a perception of combat through the eyes of a director.

As much as I admire Spike Lee, and as much as I really (REALLY) wanted to like this film, I just couldn't. This one is far too cliche to be taken seriously.
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2009
Spike Lee shot himself in the foot when he criticized Clint Eastwood's two-film Iwo Jima masterpiece for not showing the role of African Americans during WW2. First off, the Japanese army didn't have any black soldiers, and second, Flags of Our Fathers does talk about how minorities were mistreated at this time, despite their contributions to the war effort.
But Miracle at St Anna really is a great film, nowhere near as good as Eastwood's films, but still worthy of attention. It depicts in harrowing detail how all black soldiers were seen pretty much as Operation Human Shield throughout much of the war. Even the Germans were able to point that out to them. Lee also shows the division of black soldiers between themselves. There's a great scene where one soldier flirts with an Italian lady, and another onlooking soldier says, "People like him have set our people back almost 400 years." A little on the nose, but the line gets the job done.
Lee has always been a very ambitious filmmaker, and here, he tries to cover the battle from all angles: the peasant Italians, the Italian renegades, the Nazis, the white Americans, and of course the black Americans. At times, the film seems to wander on tangeants, but the emotional impact that Lee is aiming for is never lost. Even as cheesy as the last sequence is, it puts the title into a lot of perspective.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2009
The story is very compelling, and, by what I'm told, the source material is also pretty good. I really liked the music and cinematography. I also liked the fact that this is Spike Lee's take on a war film. Although I do not always agree with him or his vision, I think Spike is a fine film maker. I am giving this film a reccomendation, despite the fact that it is a tad too long, a little unfocused and meandering in places, and that it had an unanswered plot hole or two that kind of bugged me. Overall, this is a good (but not great) film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 12, 2009
Pretty good decent movie with a great story. Set in 1944 Italy, the story of four black American soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII
Super Reviewer
September 4, 2008
"World War II has its heroes and its miracles."

Set in 1944 Italy, the story of four black American soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII.

This movie was a huge let down, a diversion from the trailers and, like others have commented, hard to sit through. First, the movie was sickeningly violent when it didn't need to be. I think we know the Nazi's were ruthless. We don't need to see their gruesomeness up close and in extended scenes. What's the point. Second, the moral issues broached in the movie were handled no deeper than a freshman level human relations course. Even the racial overtones of the movie, usually Spike's forte, were trite and predictable. Lastly, given the first two flaws, Spike Lee's directorial methods, which normally are provoking, seemed overly pretentious.

Avoid it like a plague.
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2008
A powerful film from Spike Lee that could have been great if the overall product wasn't marred by some major flaws; most notably pacing issues, weak editing, and some bizarre stylistic choices. While it's disappointing to think about the film that could have been, this is still a very good effort that I found quite involving and unique, with a take on WWII that I have never seen before.

The reviews were definately way too hard on this one; most likely due to the whole Clint Eastwood fiasco.
Super Reviewer
October 5, 2008
i decided to watch this despite spike lee's tremendous hypocrisy surrounding the films contraversy. it was worth a watch and overall was a great flick, but it doesnt justify its long running time. the war scenes were gritty and effective and the characters were interesting, but some of the coincidences were unbearable and the end was horrible. a must see but with caution as it is a bit overhyped.
Super Reviewer
½ August 7, 2008
as Da Babe stuck out his big mitt and called his shot, spike lee is calling his shot here and swinging for the fences...and he damn near almost gets them. a character driven vehicle where the main action happens in a small town in italy near the end of the war, negro soldiers find themselves accidentally through the nazi lines and have to make do with a language and a people they hardly understand. the germans don't want to be there either, food is scarce and nobody likes them. and the italians...they're unhappy, too, cause there's a war in their country and people are dying. yet everyone is trying to make their way the best they can---sound familiar? with a mad paintbrush driven by the Spirit of Art itself, mr. lee manfully tries the door of the house where bergman, kubrick, and...and...fellini live. you decide if he gets in or not. and let the viewer beware, there's a gut churnin' massacre scene herein, ala potemkin.
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2008
One of Spike Lee's best films ever and a sure Oscar contender for this year's Best Picture,Best Director race. The story of African-Americans soldiers who fought like hell for this country at the height of WWII is a story that needs to be told. Thank you Spike Lee for setting the record about these brave black heroes straight. Its about time they got the recognition they truly deserve.
Super Reviewer
February 22, 2010
"Miracle at St. Anna" starts in 1984 New York City as a postal worker(Laz Alonso) is so angered from watching "The Longest Day" that he shoots an elderly man he apparently recognizes in cold blood at work.(I know a lot of people are not crazy about John Wayne but come on, it's only a movie.) A cub reporter(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) from the Daily News, late to the scene, is left with following a couple of detectives to the accused's apartment where they discover a priceless Italian artifact. Forty years previously, it is being carried through Italy by Private Sam Train(Omar Benson Miller), one of the legendary Buffalo Soldiers in World War II, four of whom survive to make it across a river where they encounter an orphaned boy(Matteo Sciabordi).

With a convoluted plot that eventually catches up to its broadly sketched characters, "Miracle at St. Anna" suffers from editing so atrocious, that it fails to establish anything about an important character for the sake of making a statement.(There is one edit, the transfer from present to past, that is perfect but I swear I have seen something like that before.) With much that is patently ridiculous about this film, leaving much to be explained by miracles, at least I can understand the postal worker having the gun at work since he feels he might need it for protection. It's how he got it in the first place that troubles me so much, as does how the artifact got to the States as I am sure the Italian authorities would naturally not want such a priceless artifact taken out of the country. And one scene is pure wish fulfillment. At the head of this mess is Spike Lee, who instead of his usual provocative stance, succumbs to pure sentimentality. And then, of course, there is the sexism. Yes, the Buffalo Soldiers deserve to have a movie made about them. But it should be a movie they deserve.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 19, 2013
This isn't exactly what I was expecting from the long overdue sequel to "Miracle on 34th Street"... like, at all, but hey, if anyone can pull off a story about a black Santa Claus, it's Spike Lee, and if it's not, so help him, he'll try to make it him, or at least bug you to death about the most inconsequential of racial issues. Oh, Spike, you silly little racist, the real miracle would be you closing your peach fuzz-coated yap without having it stopped by a piece of fried chicken (Calm down, people, I'm not trying to start a riot, I'm just checking to see if Lee actually knows the difference between what is racist and isn't). Shoot, perhaps an even greater miracle would be another commercially successful Spike Lee film, but as this $45 million bomb firmly told us, that doesn't appear to be too near in the future. Oh, it doesn't matter, as Lee was not into this project for the money, as he was most interested in doing what he felt was right by... compensating for Clint Eastwood's not featuring any black people in "Flags of Our Fathers", whose featuring black soldiers in the white unit that ended up raising the American flag at Iwo Jima would be an embarrassing historical inaccuracy. Hey, maybe Lee really is doing this film strictly in honor of the black Marines of WWII, rather than to prove a point, because if historical inaccuracy is what he considers politically correct, well, then this film makes "Malcolm X" look about as empowering to blacks as "Birth of a Nation". Okay, I don't really know how inaccurate this film is, outside of its fictionalized plot, of course, but hey, the inaccuracies are mostly offensive to the Italians, who are mostly white, thus making the race issues at their expense not matter in any way at all. So yeah, I'm cool with black people, it's just that I get kind of annoyed when it comes to militant blacks, and these actually militant blacks don't really help too much, which isn't to say that there aren't aspects that help in softening the heavy blows to this misfire.

If Spike Lee has done nothing else right time and again, it's visual style, which should tell you just how much this film messes up, as it is not even as good-looking as most other films by Lee, though that's not say that it's not still quite handsome, as cinematographer Matthew Libatique plays with lighting in a way that delivers on haunting highlights, as well as paler moments that capture the grimy grit of this subject matter, particularly when it plays up the intensity of the action. Okay, let me tell you, action sequences are rather surprisingly few and far between in this film, and once they come into play, they have unnervingly amateur moments in filming and editing, so it's not like this war film delivers on thrilling combat sequences as much as many of its contemporary peers, but what action there is proves to be effective more often than not, with tight, dizzying staging that sometimes immerses you into the heat of warfare. The film has plenty of missteps in its handling of technical value that still stands to be more played up, but if the final product has nothing else going for it, it's a fair degree of technical and stylistic sharpness, which adds to the entertainment value that almost saves the film, but not without the help of highlights in substance that this film seems to deserve, because even though there are formulaic spots and plenty of other hiccups to storytelling that betray the value of this film's subject matter, there is, in fact, potential to this film's story concept, and plenty of it, and that ignites a moderate degree of immediate intrigue, brought to life by the occasional highlight in screenwriter James McBride's characterization, which is itself brought to life by highlights in acting. While I compliment the highlights in McBride's characterization, the shortcomings don't simply leave the performers with only so much room to excel, but draw superficial and cheesy characters who couldn't possibly be easy to pull off, and as if that's not a glaring enough blow to acting's quality, there is the occasional mediocre performance, with Michael Ealy being pretty surprisingly and sadly, well, terrible, but outside of the areas within this film's acting that go plagued stand plenty of decent performances, anchored by charisma and connected through chemistry. The onscreen talent isn't exactly unmissable, but it is there, and this film needs something like that, because lord knows Spike Lee's offscreen performance isn't getting the job done as well as it should, and even then, I must admit that there are moments in which the overambitious Lee puts the heart that he crams into this effort to good use by settling atmospheric overbearingness enough to give you a glimpse into what could have been. If nothing else, Lee keeps the film moving at a constant momentum that is kind of entertaining, and that carries the final product a long, long way, maybe not quite to where the film crosses over into decency, but decidedly to where the gunk of mediocrity is cleared enough for decency to almost be achieved, largely with the help of what is done right in this ambitious drama. Alas, through all of its noble moments, the final product succumbs to its flaws, and believe me, there's plenty of them to rob this film of decency, or at least keep the film running long enough for decency to sputter out.

The film is not quite as overlong as they say, but at exactly 160 minutes, this war drama leads you to believe that it is a good old-fashioned war epic, only to end up with a bit of minimalism to storytelling scope, but not at the expense of an epic length that it has to achieve through excess material and repetition, which leave certain layers to go too intensely focused upon for the eventual shifts in focus to not feel kind of inorganic, and give you plenty of time to think about the other areas in which this film's storytelling royally messes up, if you're still paying attention, that is. If nothing else is uneven about this film's narrative, it's the momentum of storytelling, which has its tight spots and excessive spots, but, after a while, really starts to meander and challenge your engagement value as it trots along a tainted path, or at least a path that is way too familiar for its own good. At this point, it's hard to pull off a genuinely unique war film, but this film, on paper, stands a really good chance of being relatively refreshing, and sure, there are aspects to this film that stand to be more formulaic, but on the whole, this film is conventional, maybe even generic, with writer James McBrie delivering on anything from trite dialogue to clichéd, superficially drawn characters who tend to feel to familiar to be seen as anything more than mere components to this film's familiar formula, regardless of some decent performances. There's only so much that's unusual about this generally been-there-done-that war drama, but honestly, if this film just has to be formulaic, then I'm all for there being even more genericism, because among some of your relatively less frequently practiced aspects of the military film genre is some glaring cheesiness that haunts this misguided drama, being found within such more minor areas in writing as dialogue and comic relief, - which are often grating in their corniness - as well as within questionable character and scenario moments which dilute the believability of this humanity-driven drama that is going to need convincingness if it aims to sustain your investment. The film gets to be mighty cornball, whether when it's being histrionic, or when it's being just downright silly, and ignoring the cheesiness that plagues this film's effectiveness was always going to be a difficult, perhaps even impossible task, yet you would have at least stood a chance of getting past McBrie's writing missteps if Spike Lee didn't constantly remind you of storytelling's shortcomings with something that he has always done about as well as anything: laughable subtlety problems. Come on, we're talking about an answer to those "sickeningly racist", or rather, historically accurate war films by Clint Eastwood - which didn't crowbar in black people in the middle of white WWII Marines' stories - that deals with black people trying to get along in a white man's military during the 1940s, so, of course, there is no drop subtlety to Lee's agenda for this film, but it's not like lapses in subtlety end with the thematic aspects of this overblown opus, as what action there is overemphasizes disturbing imagery in a gratuitous fashion that waters down the effectiveness of the violence more than it supplements it, while atmosphere goes overblown to an overbearing point by the shameless celebration of such aspects as Terence Blanchard's often good, but trite score, until, after a while, you find yourself exhausted by Lee's desperate attempts to summon some kind of resonance from this disjointed, corny and utterly unsubtle effort. I wasn't exactly entering this film expecting it to be one of those gems that earned heat from the critics for some frustratingly indiscernible reason, though, considering the potential and ambition to this project, I was kind of hoping for yet another Spike Lee joint - as Lee himself calls it - that bypasses its shortcomings enough to reward, or at least stands as not quite as messy as they say, and such hopes were certainly reinforced by a pretty strong, if still rather flawed beginning, yet once we come to the body of the final product, the lowlights - of which there are many - become, quite frankly, embarrassing, and it gets to be more and more difficult to deny them as the film meanders along, trailed by a wealth of amateur mistakes that are not so intense that you can't appreciate the undeniable strengths that come close to carrying the final product into genuine decency, - primarily on the back of entertainment value - but ultimately can't compensate for the problems enough to prevent the final product from collapsing, not simply short of potential or into underwhelmingness, but into mediocrity.

In the end, handsome moments in cinematography and thrilling moments in action grace the film with a technical sharpness that adds to engagement value almost as much as highlights in the telling of a conceptually worthy story, - anchored by some decent performances - which has enough entertaining liveliness to it for the final product to almost achieve decency, but not quite to where you can disregard the disjointed, repetitious and meandering dragging, genericism, silliness and embarrassing lack of subtlety that leave "Miracle at St. Anna" to slowly, but surely lose steam, until finally collapsing as a near-decent, but ultimately mediocre misfire of an overambitious mess.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2010
Show, don?t tell. In fiction and screenwriting, it is one of the fundamental rules laid down by any professor. This film not only shows you the plight of four soldiers from the army?s fact-based Negro 92nd Division, it wallops filmgoers over the head like a game of Whack-A-Mole with the importance of said ?plight.? There is such a thing as subtext in filmmaking. Here, however, nothing is left for interpretation. All involved have gone to great lengths (literally, as the film runs an overlong 2 hours and 40 minutes) to portray most white American characters as racist corn-bred caricatures. Unfortunately, this profiling backfires because even the black characters are composed of enough stock to make some seriously overdone soup.

In this R-rated World War II drama, a group of African-American infantrymen (Luke, Ealy, et al) get separated from their unit and find humanity in a small Tuscan village during the Nazi occupation of 1944.

It is not enough for screenwriter James McBride (adapting from his own novel) to have one of these soldiers watching John Wayne?s Yankee Doodle whitebread D-Day yarn The Longest Day as an old man with a war propaganda picture of Joe Louis in the background, they must also have the character remark, ?We fought that war too.? But the blame does not fall solely on the scribe. Director Spike Lee, who used a fantastical ending to great effect in The 25th Hour, incorporates a head-scratching dream sequence in the third act and to meander through more needless exposition toward an unsatisfying ending.

Bottom line: Far from a Miracle.
Super Reviewer
½ October 31, 2009
Overall, the film is ok. The performances by this ensemble is really good. It kind of reminded me of films like We Were Soldiers and Inglorious Bastards. Also the ending scene reminded me of the ending scene of The Shawshank Redemption. The main negative of the film is the pacing which is completely off.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2009
What an 2/12 hour emotional gripper that this movie was...Spike really did it this time...and once again he was passed over for his recognition in his efforts in the cinema world for his ground breaking accomplishments to recognize what it is that these soldiers will do to get the job done...despite the back stabbing and racial discord that four surviving soldirers found during the time era of World War 2. This was a good and involving movie...that was incredibly long. The old adage that what goes around...comes around...is the "theme" in this motion picture epic.
Super Reviewer
March 28, 2009
25 minutes in and I'm already restless. 1 hour in and I simply do not care about anyone. 1 hour 30 minutes in and I'm convinced that Miracle at St. Anna may be one of the most tediously boring war films I have even seen. Seriously, what happened here? Spike Lee's response to Clint Eastwood's Flags of our Fathers is a failure on almost every conceivable level. The pace is lethargic, to put it mildly, the acting is horrible (especially odd given the talented names), the writing is hackneyed and clichéd, the music - jeez, the fucking music - is an abomination. Half the time the score is plinky plunky breezy comedy stuff, the other time it's a disharmonic hung-over nightmare, it is as oil is to water with what is happening on screen. An ongoing spirituality theme is cloying. Nothing convinces - even the violent battle scenes feel incredibly artificial -and the direction is a mess. An undeniably terrible film.
Super Reviewer
½ August 30, 2009
Sometimes unediting, and loose plot strands, damage such said greatness, or the whole, movie. For me, "Miracle at St. Anna" was still a great film, even at it's length
You need understand the Importance of a movie, to understand how although a messy, put together, get it in theathers as fast as you can edit, can ruin a picture, but sometimes, the impression,importance, and heartfelt message are more f a reason to enjoy it, then others. "Three and a Half Stars out of Four". A Good Reccomendation.
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2008
"Miracle at St. Anna" has a great story goin for it, but the movie itself feels too long and not for good reason-it seemed much of the extra filling here is to make the movie feel bigger, and maybe to allow Spike Lee to preach a little more. The film looks good with a kind of old school color pallette in the flashback and a sharper blue in the 80's setting. These are good, powerful performances and we understand the struggle and inner-conflicts these soldiers are dealing with. Once the film hits the point where the four soldiers are confined in the town it feels like a new movie-all the elements begin to come together and the suspense is much more intense then the opening shootout of the flashback. The movie is kind of a lesson for life and it has alot to say-it is hard not to like the film by the end though-you just hate the fact you had to go through so much to get there.
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2008
Spike Lee's new film tells a story set in Italy during World War II, but through the eyes of four black soldiers, a point of view that hasn't been covered by a major studio before. Inside this very overlong and jumbled film I'm sure has a real great story to tell and has enormous potential, but is pretty much lost because the movie doesn't really know what it wants to be. I think one of the real problems with the film is its lack of emotion, there isn't an effort made of why we should really care for these characters, and people are dying left and right and the audience barely feels a thing. Lee seemed to tell the story with so much hate and cared too much about his message of the film, or cared too much about trying to piss of Clint Eastwood, that he failed to concentrate on the story and the characters. As much as it scares me to say that I didn't really like the film, out of fear that Spike Lee will call me a racist, it would need a miracle to change my opinion.
Page 1 of 83