The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive for a given film or television show.
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.