Friday, November 11, 2016



From IMDB:

Two-time Academy Award® winner Ang Lee brings his extraordinary vision to Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, based on the widely-acclaimed, bestselling novel. The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, becomes a hero after a harrowing Iraq battle and is brought home temporarily for a victory tour. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad - contrasting the realities of the war with America's perceptions. The film also stars Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin. Lee used new technology, shooting at an ultra-high frame rate for the first time in film history, to create an immersive digital experience helping him dramatize war in a way never seen before. Lee directed and produced the film, from a screenplay by Jean-Christophe ...

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2016) on IMDb

Reviews 6 user | 12 critic

From Rotten Tomatoes:

The film is told from the point of view of 19-year-old private Billy Lynn, who, along with his fellow soldiers in Bravo Squad, has been hailed as a hero and brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks, culminating at the spectacular halftime show of the Thanksgiving Day football game, the film reveals what really happened to the squad - contrasting the realities of the Iraq conflict with America's celebration back home.

Rating: R (for language throughout, some war violence, sexual content, and brief drug use)
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Ang Lee
In Theaters: Nov 11, 2016 Limited
Runtime: 110 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures

Average Rating: 4.8/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 12
Rotten: 14

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

WANT TO SEE 86% want to see
User Ratings: 4,187


This is Billy. He joined the military because he did something pretty bad to his sister's boyfriend. ©TriStar Pictures

A movie about how a man who has been sent to fight a war not his and then returns to receive an accolade he has a hard time accepting emotionally...

So this is a movie about a team of eight men named the Bravo Squad who in Iraq one less than fine day encountered some bad men and during their encounter a Sergeant named Shroom (Vin Diesel) is caught out in the open and is shot. While the rest of the team is pinned down by enemy gun fire a Specialist in the team named Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn) bravely runs out to try and rescue him but is instead himself caught out in the open. He bravely stands his ground and shoots at the bad men and eventually manages to roll his Sergeant to safety for the moment. The whole event just happens to be caught on camera.

That is Sergeant Breem, he likes to tell each of his squad members that he loves them before they go out and kill people. ©TriStar Pictures

Later on after he receives the Silver Star he and his team are paraded around the United States to show Americans what a hero looks like. In the movie we spend the last day of his tour when it culminates with the team appearing at the halftime show of an American Football game. 

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk actually began as a book written by Ben Fountain and was published in May of 2012. The book was meant to be a sharp satire that dealt with themes such as brotherhood, the commercialization of war, and what it really means to support the war when the real costs are barely felt by the majority of U.S. citizens at home. (Took that last bit from the Wiki page for the novel. You can read the full Wiki entry here.) It received many positive reviews and won praise from many reviewers and even won a few awards from the many it was nominated for. 

That's Kate Billy's sister. See those scars? That's why he had to go join the military. ©TriStar Pictures

So fast forward to 2014 and the book is currently being turned into a screenplay by Simon Beaufoy who also wrote the screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire (2008).The film would be produced by Film4 in collaboration with a U.S. production company, The Ink Factory, and Sony Pictures' TriStar film studio division as well as China's Bona Film Group and Studio 8, which is backed by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun. The movie would be directed by Ang Lee whose last film Life of Pi (2012) won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. If you're wondering who from that award-winning film is also working on this one it's Mychael Danna the music composer.

The man on the left is Sergeant Dime and the other guy is Albert. Albert is trying to sell Bravo Team's heroic story but no one seems interested. ©TriStar Pictures

Now Ang Lee didn't just want to make a movie that gave you the feels in the pit of your stomach and in your heart, he also wanted it to make your eyes go wide in amazement at what you saw. He wanted this movie an "immersive" and "realistic" experience of the reality and emotional journey of soldiers. Ang Lee wanted to give you the "Whole Shebang" in terms of a visual experience. So what did he decide to do with this film that would hopefully do that? He decided he wanted viewers to experience his latest film at a projection frame rate of 120 frames per second in 3D at 4K HD resolution. This is the first film to actually use those specifications. The last film that was shown and a high frame rate was The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) but even that was only at 48 frames per second and when that film was released not everyone was impressed by the new frame rate. But unfortunately for most of us we won't be able to watch this film the way Ang Lee would want as only six theaters worldwide are capable of handling the specifications. In fact, during its world premiere they had to arrange for a special set-up as the original theater that it was supposed to be in didn't have the right dimensions to fit the dual laser projectors and the large screen. 

The man standing right up front there is Mr. Norm Oglesby, he owns the stadium or the football team or something. He'd like to make a movie about Billy and his friends but he doesn't want to pay them that much.©TriStar Pictures 

Anyway, so if you didn't read the brief storyline above or have yet to see the trailer, here's my brief description for Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. You follow Billy and the Bravo Team he is with on the last day of their nationwide tour which ends at the halftime show of an American Football game. As he goes through the day little things causes him to remember the events that would lead up to this day. He also, with his team mates encounter people during his day that makes him question what he does, who he does it for and why he does it.

So for killing some men and almost saving the life of Sergeant Breem on camera, Bravo Team gets to imitate lifeless mannequins on stage while Destiny's Child performs. ©TriStar Pictures 

So here's a few things I liked.
  • The story. For the most part it's interesting. An interesting take on the participants of a war that no one really wanted to happen, wanted to participate in let alone be a part of for so long. An interesting perspective from someone whom everyone has labeled a 'hero' but who himself just thinks he only did what his training taught him to do. And of course the people that meet him.
  • The cast for the most part was pretty good. Considering how this was his first major role in a major film Joe Alwyn did a pretty good job. As did Kristen Stewart and Vin Diesel despite only showing up in a few scenes. Wasn't too impressed with Garrett Hedlund though, actually I have never really enjoyed his acting.
  • Was really nice to see Steve Martin and Chris Tucker too. And was quite pleased with his portrayal of a Texas millionaire.
  • The camera work was interesting but not always.

There's an unusual preoccupation this movie has with Billy's virgin status. So how do they handle that? Have him have a casual hook-up with a cheerleader and then send him back to war. ©TriStar Pictures 

A few things that didn't sway me
  • Interesting as the story is I don't think this movie did the book justice. I haven't read the book but I'm sure it doesn't live up to it. 
  • The acting. In general it felt more of a miss than a hit. 
  • Remember when I said the camera work was interesting but not always? Well, I think part of it can be blamed on the new frame rate which didn't allow for many re-takes compared to using conventional methods and I think it shows on screen. Some of the performances probably could have been better. Also Ang Lee uses a lot of shots where the actors look directly at the camera as character addresses Bobby Lynn and a lot of the times the performance given then just isn't convincing and that ruins things quite a bit.
Here's a nice little moment where Mr. Oglesby tries to reason with Billy about why he wants to pay them so little for their story. ©TriStar Pictures 

When you watch this movie you sort of get that although it's supposed to be satire in that satire there is a message trying to be heard. Was it the intention of the author all along? Was the message what Ang Lee was interested in when he decided to make this movie? Maybe. Who knows. Another thing about this movie is the release date coinciding with America finding out who it's new president is. It's sort of timely in a way. But here's the thing about that message thing I was talking about whatever that message may be, because of the shortcomings present in this film whatever that message is is sort of less effective. You're not drawn into this film or to the characters. And because of that you don't appreciate what the characters are going through or hear what they're really trying to say let alone have what they say impact you. That being said though there is one moment in the film that made me think, it's the final scene that Lynn has with Shroom right at the end of the film. 

Probably the only real memorable moment in the movie for me. ©TriStar Pictures 

All in all this movie was sort of a disappointment for me especially when you consider who was directing it and who started work on the screenplay. It could have been vastly better probably if instead of trying to impress audiences with new technology which can't even be applied in most cinemas Ang Lee instead did it the old-fashioned way and concentrated on the actors and their performance. This is a very human story and I guess it could have been a movie worth talking about because of what it may be trying to say.

Anyway, I didn't really enjoy this movie much so I'm giving Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk a 2.5 out of 5. 

Here's the trailer for your consideration.



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