Letters from Iwo Jima - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Letters from Iwo Jima Reviews

Top Critic
Wally Hammond
Time Out
February 22, 2007
An even more sombre affair, as beautifully restrained as the earlier film but also, despite its scenes of battle, death, suicide and suffering, shockingly intimate.
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Stephen Garrett
Time Out
February 3, 2007
The movie's sense of doom is powerfully conveyed; one graphic scene has weeping soldiers blowing themselves up with grenades.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/6
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
January 27, 2007
Indirectly but cogently comment on our experiences of other movies. Having Japanese soldiers as heroes allows us to reconsider the didacticism we've been handed in the past.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
January 19, 2007
The proper way to appreciate Letters and Flags is to treat them as complimentary halves of the same epic movie, a Godfather war epic. One half is plainly more ambitious than the other, but both have virtues that distinguish them.
| Original Score: 4/5
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
January 19, 2007
By placing us on the opposite side of the battlefield, the movie forces us to approach it from a fresh perspective. The technique also lends Letters an uncommon timelessness.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
January 19, 2007
Where Flags heaved its characters through war and psychic trauma without first allowing us all to get acquainted, Letters takes such care with its protagonists that they awaken and descend from the screen.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
January 19, 2007
Eastwood is now 76, and Letters has the feel of a movie made by a man of experience. Almost stately in its tone, Letters reflects the wisdom of living; it's interested in observing how men behave when they know they can't win.
| Original Score: A
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Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
January 19, 2007
Letters is a work of whetted craft and judgment, tempered by Eastwood's years of life, moviemaking and the potent tango of the two. It is the work of a mature filmmaker willing to entertain the true power of the cinema.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
January 13, 2007
Humanizing our old adversaries doesn't erase their war crimes, and Eastwood doesn't whitewash the brutality of Japanese militarism. His point is that the Emperor's infantrymen were as much the victims of the Japanese war machine as the GIs they fought.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
January 12, 2007
Eloquent, bloody, and daringly simple, the movie examines notions of wartime glory as closely as Flags of Our Fathers dissected heroism.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Roger Ebert
RogerEbert.com
January 12, 2007
In both his films, Eastwood empathizes with the 'expendable' soldier on the ground, the 'poor bastard' who is only a pawn in a war conceived by generals and politicians, some of whom have never come anywhere near a battlefield or a combat zone.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
January 12, 2007
If Flags of Our Fathers is about heroism -- why we need it, how we create it -- then Letters From Iwo Jima is about honor, its importance, and its folly.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
January 12, 2007
It skillfully avoids the usual war movie clichés while providing multiple points of entry.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
January 12, 2007
Watanabe is appropriately noble and regal, if a bit stiff at times; but it is Ninomiya's grunt soldier who gives the film its soul. Alternately philosophical, humorous, terrified and crafty, he is everyman trying to survive hell.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
January 12, 2007
Though it could have gone in that direction, Eastwood's film isn't an existential endgame drama. He's still more rooted in Howard Hawks than Samuel Beckett and in many ways this is a conventional war drama.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Gary Thompson
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 12, 2007
Side by side, though, Eastwood's movies are a sobering marvel: the massive military effort, suffering and sacrifice, the extremes of human behavior that war produces.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
January 12, 2007
In washed-out tones of brown and khaki, mimicking the colors of the troops' uniforms (blood, used sparingly, is startlingly crimson, seeming to sear a hole in the screen), the film plays out in a mood of resignation and control.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
January 12, 2007
The unspoken message of the film is that war is a battle of competing symbols and ideologies that have no meaning. We create artificial divisions to hide the fact that we are all the same under the skin, with the same hopes, desires and fears.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
January 11, 2007
In the last half-hour, the story, like the Japanese, loses its way; lacking any clear-cut goals except survival, the film becomes repetitive. Letters From Iwo Jima is a necessary movie; too bad it's not a great movie.
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
January 11, 2007
[This] absorbing and thoughtful take on the plight of the trapped, desperate and suicidal Japanese troops, outstrips its companion piece. That's not a statement on patriotism; it addresses the nature of Eastwood's approach and basic human nature.
| Original Score: 4.5/5
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
January 11, 2007
The subject, the technique and the maturity blend as one.
| Original Score: 4/4
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David Denby
New Yorker
January 8, 2007
The project lacks the variety of sensuous pleasures that a great movie has to provide.
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Bruce Newman
San Jose Mercury News
December 22, 2006
This movie manages with great economy to show that soldiers on both sides had far more in common than they thought.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Noel Murray
AV Club
December 22, 2006
[Director] Eastwood [shows] how people make impossible choices with dreadful repercussions.
| Original Score: B+
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 21, 2006
In its emotional simplicity and straightforward narrative punch, Letters also harks back to what was best about those war movies.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Scott Foundas
Village Voice
December 20, 2006
Eastwood seems less concerned with provocation than with contemplation, of a popular military campaign and its supposed days of glory. The second film completes and deepens the first.
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 20, 2006
It takes a filmmaker possessed of a rare, almost alchemic, blend of maturity, wisdom and artistic finesse to create such an intimate, moving and spare war film as Clint Eastwood has done.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
December 20, 2006
Far superior to its companion piece, Letters is a grim and humane film that has to be counted among the director's better efforts.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2006
It is the second, and artistically superior, half of a single epic film that springs from a single, stunning act of compassionate imagination.
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 20, 2006
Eastwood's second Iwo Jima film is far better than the first. Apart from some flashbacks to the commanding officer's cadet days, its unity of time and place gives it a powerful drive, and a tragic feeling of predestination.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
December 20, 2006
Letters From Iwo Jima, Clint Eastwood's spare, poetic and remarkable companion piece to Flags of Our Fathers, is an engrossing and revealing look at that same World War II battle from the Japanese side.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
December 20, 2006
One of the better movies of this maddeningly overcrowded holiday season.
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
December 20, 2006
Letters isn't about numbers or the battle or even the morality of war. It's about the sanctity of life and how we value our own.
| Original Score: 4/4
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Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
December 19, 2006
Eastwood is so busy humanizing Japanese soldiers that he ends up rewriting history.
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
December 19, 2006
This second picture is so different from the first, and such a rare, remarkable achievement in itself, it could have stood squarely on its own.
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 19, 2006
Although Eastwood does an adequate job of developing the characters into more than paper-thin soldiers, this isn't a character-based piece, and that limits its effectiveness.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
December 19, 2006
Another masterwork from Clint Eastwood's astonishing late period, and one of the best war movies ever.
| Original Score: 5/5
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John Anderson
Newsday
December 19, 2006
Eastwood may not be a primarily political filmmaker, but his celebration of men fighting a lost war is timeless, as well as urgently topical.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
December 19, 2006
The laconic, pitiless way Eastwood shot the violence of battle underscores what a waste it all is, underlines the futility that so many have to die because of the misguided ideology of a few in leadership positions.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
December 18, 2006
It's fantastic. It's really worth seeing.
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David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 18, 2006
Too old for another Dirty Harry movie, Eastwood embraced the role of brooding, fatalistic American Master -- and, I'm bound to say, is finally beginning to wear it more convincingly.
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 15, 2006
Letters is quality from first frame to last, a war film that is almost a tone poem.
| Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
December 13, 2006
It takes a filmmaker of uncommon control and mature grace to say so much with so little superfluous movement, and Eastwood triumphs in the challenge.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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TIME Magazine
December 11, 2006
...A unique, bifocal view of ground war -- the men who fight it, the propaganda attending it, the awful way it ends.
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David Ansen
Newsweek
December 11, 2006
Superbly acted, unblinking and unhysterical, it looks beyond politics into the hearts and minds of the men we needed to call 'the enemy,' and lets us see ourselves.
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
December 7, 2006
Taken together, Flags and Letters represent a genuinely imposing achievement, one that looks at war unflinchingly -- that does not deny its necessity but above all laments the human loss it entails.
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
December 7, 2006
While Flags is the broader, more entertaining film, if you will, Letters is, for want of a better expression, more art house.