The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk has noble goals, but lacks a strong enough screenplay to achieve them -- and its visual innovations are often merely distracting.
All Critics (157)
| Top Critics (42)
| Fresh (68)
| Rotten (89)
The film has neither topical immediacy nor any real historical perspective and, burdened with pedantic and predictable flashbacks, it finally leads nowhere interesting at all.
Lee's use of High Frame Rate technology becomes a literal window into Billy Lynn's head. We're not supposed to feel comfortable.
[Lurches] from a grim family drama cursorily observed to a big and broad satire of the United States in the early 2000s before descending into the very kind of sentimental militarism it has parodied.
Everything feels stilted and strangely flat.
Ang Lee's heart may be in the right place with his Iraq War thumb-sucker Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, but his head is somewhere in the clouds.
Beyond a few shining moments, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a bit of a trudge.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk might well mark a significant step forward in the evolution of filmmaking. However, important is not necessarily the same as good and this movie, despite its best intentions, is ultimately just not very good.
You're unlikely to hear a less convincing sounding film this year, whereby actors are tasked with the impossible in a film that so often resembles an infomercial than any reflection of reality.
Ang Lee's most topical and "lifelike" film yet.
In essence, a failed experiment.
Ang Lee's approach is too earnest in trying to make an emotionally resonant story without the rough edges the material demands.
Ang Lee succeeds in bringing to the screen a perspective that, if not exactly new, is certainly affecting and emotionally meaningful.
From Ang Lee comes the compelling war drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Based on a novel, the story follows returning war hero Billy Lynn and his squad as they wrap up a good will tour by appearing in the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys game. The script is especially well-writing and addressing a number of topical issues, including the exploitation of soldiers, PTSD, and the comradery of brothers in arms. It's not really pro- or anti-war, rather the film looks at the realities that soldiers face. The cast is fairly good and delivers some strong performances. And the production values are especially well-done, particularly the cinematography. A smart and thought-provoking film, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is incredibly powerful.
When did Academy Award winning director Ang Lee -- famous for meaningful films like "Brokeback Mountain" and "Life of Pi" -- begin directing after-school specials for the Hallmark Channel? Of the five films he's directed in the last dozen years, "Billy Lynn" probably does not make the Top 4 List.
True Stories can either manipulate its audience into thinking there was more to the story than what news platforms had lead on at the time, but they can also just be effective films on their own, even though you know the full story going in. Sadly, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk fails to impress on either one of those levels. It's one thing to make a story your own and have an incredible vision placed on-screen, but I think this film tried far too hard to add emotion where it didn't need to be. To be quite honest, this is a film that deserved a documentary made, where the real heroes speak about their past, while this main event is showcased. Here is why Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is disappointing, even with no expectations.
As a solider (Billy Lynn) is brought home after his time in Iraq, he and the rest of the men from his tour must do a victory walk down the stage during halftime at the Super Bowl. In itself, this is not much substance to make a film out of, which is why I was shocked to see Ang Lee at the helm as director. It's not that it's poorly structured or anything, but it's the fact that the war itself (shown through flashbacks) would have made a great story on its own. Constantly cutting back and forth from the war to the events at the Super Bowl felt very jarring at times. I truly feel as though this film would've worked better as either a Documentary or a three hour epic, showcasing the war itself, as well as the aftermath.
Yes, the fact that the world is never truly able to see and feel what these soldiers have been through is more than true, but when this tactic is used as an entire feature film in order to make the present-day storyline more impactful, it seems a little manipulative to me. Not to say that it wasn't effective, because there were a few moments when I found myself becoming moved by the story at hand. This film places these two connective events together in such a way that matter and works in context with the film, but the war sequences are really only shown when nothing else interesting is going on. For that reason, it either felt like filler or manipulation for its audience. All of this on the table, I found myself faced with the impossible task of criticizing these actors.
Aside from a few inessential characters throughout the film, whether Kristen Stewart was playing off Joe Alwyn or Steve Martin was delivering his few lines, everyone seemed to be giving it their all in these roles, and I respected that more than anything else. Never did I expect to see a film about the aftermath of war with Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, and Steve Martin as core performances. The one thing I was able to praise about this film were the performances. I always felt moved whenever an actor/actresses was delivering a compelling line of dialogue, and this aspect alone made this film worth watching.
Looking back on this film, I have to admit that I found myself bored quite often. The pacing is quite bad and the premise itself doesn't work as a feature film. On the other hand, the performances are all terrific and the manipulation of the war scenes intercut with the happiness of the Super Bowl was pretty effective. All of that said, this film is average at best. I can't get myself to recommend this film to anyone, because I truly believe you will either find yourself enjoying either the war side of the story or the aftermath, but not the two together. I will be complimentary and say that this is a competent film, but I truthfully can't see myself ever revisiting it.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a film I recommend if you have anyone in your life that is serving or has served in the military. While the writing is a bit basic and the acting isn't strong from many of the name actors, the film will provide you with more respect and perspective about your fellow citizens who dedicate their lives physically and emotionally for what they think is right. Jerry Jones might not be happy but I hate the Cowboys anyway, so who cares what he thinks? Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk will have you thinking a bit more and probably should encourage ways to support our armed forces in better ways than standing and clapping.
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