The Thin Red Line - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Thin Red Line Reviews

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August 10, 2017
The general public's view of Malick is polarizing; some praise his work and consider him as a auteur, while others accuse him of being indulgent, pretentious and high minded. I don't really have a general opinion of him as only this film and The Tree of Life are the only films I have seen from him. My first viewing of this film was not pleasant, I felt that it was just too introspective and did not have a driving plot, or at least an interesting or dramatic one, that gripped me. A few months later I decided to give this another try and see if it's able to change mind. In a way it did but at the same time, it's previous flaws are still prevalent but at least much more tolerable and clearer with the second viewing.

The film was based on the book by James Jones, who also wrote From Here To Eternity, and the screenplay was written by Terrence Malick. I have not read the novel so I cannot say whether or not this film is accurate or that it approaches the same way that the film does. Malick's screenplay on the other hand is a hit or miss for me. There are moments that are brilliant and definitely makes it stand out against the other WWII films, but there are also aspects of the screenplay that didn't just work with me. The main issue that I have with this film is that it is too introspective, which I don't mind as long as there is an interesting plot to drive when the voice overs are not present. A little over half of the film is driven by a main plot but then the last hour and 20 minutes is more of self-reflection and each main character's perspective of the situation. The screenplay contains themes of faith, life, death, war, peace, love, sacrifice and family. It may seem too much but each theme is very much interrelated and one dialogue from a character could sometimes be ambiguous that it could mean this or that. I wish that the last half of the film can hold up the intensity and depth that the first half did.

Terrence Malick's direction in this film feel so incoherent and erratic. At one moment intensity occurs but then it just slows down all of a sudden. It isn't as bad as it was in my first viewing but it did still bother me a little during my revisit. This disjointed feeling does throw me off at times but at the same time it makes the film different and unique from the other war films that this film is generally compared to. True, sometimes I do wish that it does have that excitement and physical intensity of a film like Saving Private Ryan but at the same time I wish other war films had this deep and self-critical view of the war and it's soldiers. His work here may not be perfect and far from his magnum opus, The Tree of Life, but it has grown and improved on me that I am now confident in coming back to this film knowing that it has this great quality that other films don't.

The film's photography was handled by John Toll, worked on films like Braveheart, Tropic Thunder, The Last Samurai and The Adjustment Bureau. Malick is a director who loves natural photography exposing the beauty in nature and the use of natural light to fill the scene. I am one of those who come into a Malick film expecting beautiful photography but this film just doesn't get up there, this is due to the fact that I have seen Malick's work with Emmanuel Lubezki and the films they do together are breathtakingly gorgeous. Toll's work here may not rank up with Lubezki's but it does get the job done. There is still beauty in his photography, the scenes in the hill in particular, and it does still get the job done when it comes to putting Malick's script in picture. Toll's photography is much deeper in my opinion than Lubezki's, and it makes sense given that this film is more about experience and feelings rather than plot and visceral focused. I do wish that it was more surrealistic but I guess that it's just asking too much as the film's setting and plot is quite grounded to reality.

The film's score was composed by Hans Zimmer. Before when I just started to really care about films, I used to think Hans Zimmer is the greatest film composer of all time but as time went on I have been exposed to the works of other composers who can rival his work. Not to say that Zimmer is now crap to me but I just started to see the areas in his work that I consider as faults. Zimmer's score for The Thin Red Line is great, it does what it does and it is able to get an emotional response from the audience. However there are moments that I felt needed a little more emotional kick from his score as the situation felt grand and important. Also I picked up that his works on multiple films have a similar sound, or at least a trademark of sorts. This kind of disappointed me as he could have given his later films a much more original style rather than coming back to what he has already used. His later works still are effective though for those films. Do I think The Thing Red Line is his best work? I think not but it is definitely nowhere near his worst.

The film's cast is extensive and bloated, in a good way. I don't mind that characters just all of a sudden come in and play a small role but there are multiple moments in the film that felt like the scene needed a little more time and a much more subtle way in introducing it's characters. Maybe it's due to the fact that Malick cut around 2 and a half of it's original running time. I did wish that the film did have a central character that we would follow for the most part and have little side moments with the others but what he has done with the final cut is good enough. The entire cast in this film were great, they took their roles to heart and gave it their all. This made the film much more believable and also made the introspection aspect of it much more interesting than what it already is. Stand out performances include Caviezel, Nolte, Harrelson, Koteas, Chaplin and Otto.

This maybe the favorite of the general audience when it comes to Malick's work but for me it just didn't hit that mark. This may grow on me further on subsequent viewings but for now I can only say that this is good war film that deserves to be watched at least once as it has a large cast, great photography, a moving score and interesting direction from Malick.
July 30, 2017
In 1998, appreciated the HONESTY of this movie over the Patriotic Cheese of SPR
June 18, 2017
One of the best war movie ive ever seen. I became a huge Terence Malick fan after the Tree of Life, but this movie is his best so far. The cast, plot and the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer were astonishing. Definitely a must see!
June 2, 2017
good cinemaphotography but a disappointing film
½ May 28, 2017
The cinematography and shots are beautiful of course. If it was a little bit shorter, I feel like it would have been a lot better. Sometimes the movie would get lost in it's own philosophical deep meanings. But who am I to judge? The movie was great.

A fantastic tense and thrilling ride. But also with moments of beauty and peace, showing how beautiful nature is in all of it's raw form and how beautiful human nature can be when we all just get along and don't have to fight with one another. This movie touches a lot on the subject of human nature, doing good in the world, and how death could be for some of us.
May 20, 2017
A peculiar masterpiece, a world unto its own, as this film boldly questions the existential and philosophical nature of war, while constructing a lush, yet jarring Pacific backdrop. In this movie, director Terrence Malik weaves an epic, cinematic poem about World War II, infusing various pensive queries into the relationship between humanity and violence, and how nature exists and is effected by this relationship.
½ April 28, 2017
A little too contemplative for my taste, but maybe I'm not made for Malick. Compelling all the same.
April 7, 2017
Beautiful - if one may say so.
½ April 5, 2017
A long but very in depth look at one of the most brutal battles in WWII. The enormous cast does a great job, and the plot is interesting enough. I still couldn't help but find the film to be a little dragging on me though mostly due to its length
March 20, 2017
Under rated war film. Very sprawling and hard to keep track with at times, but I'd rather watch this than the Hollywood friendly 'Saving Private Ryan'.
March 18, 2017
One thing that stands out to me is I remember not seeing the enemy until about an hour into the film - I was very impressed with the consistency of the film's POV.

Caviezel's befriending the villagers was very moving.
½ March 6, 2017
A beautiful, poetic, captivating and very underated film that has become one of my favorite war films. Much different than Private Ryan (Although I love that one as well). This movie digs deep into the hearts, minds and souls of the characters. Great acting, beautifully shot and the score by Zimmer is brilliant as always. My only minor gripe is the run time, it could have been just a tad shorter.
March 6, 2017
One of the most beautiful films of all-time. Starkly contrasted with unwavering brutality, this film is both breathtaking and heartbreaking. A viewing experience you won't soon forget.
½ March 5, 2017
Malick's gorgeous vision of earth's carnivorousness is both magnificent and frustrating.
February 27, 2017
A fine film, but there were a number of problems. First of all, the runtime. There's absolutely no reason this film should be almost 3 hours long. Secondly, there are way too many characters. It's impossible to keep up with all of them, let alone care about them. Thirdly, we as an audience are "told" too many things. For instance, we are "told" to care about the one character (I forget his name) just because he has a wife back home that they keep flashing back to. We are "told" that these men have a very strong bond between one another, but I didn't get that feeling a whole lot during the actual film. It's still a fine film, but I just didn't enjoy it because of these problems.
½ February 23, 2017
Malick knows how to make battle scenes that are so tense that you sweat, but he also seems to be distracted by nature and forgets he has characters to develop.
½ February 19, 2017
/A-/ I might be a little late to the party, but I'm happy to be here.
February 18, 2017
It has been said that war consists of long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror. Most war movies focus on the moments of sheer terror. Thin Red Line's novel approach is to give you the long periods of boredom instead.
Tedious and punctuated with distracting cameos, much of the movie is mud covered indistinguishable actors mumbling their lines interspersed with nature footage. It watches like Malick really wanted to be doing National Geographic documentaries instead and decided to take his frustration out on the audience.
½ February 11, 2017
While beautifully composed like Badlands and Days of Heaven, I didn't feel as strongly connected to the characters and this made the last hour unnecessary
½ January 22, 2017
Brutal showing of war. Not particularly enjoyable but important viewing.
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