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Overall Rating
4.57

Awesome76.67%
Worth A Look: 16.67%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 6.67%

1 review, 24 user ratings



Saints and Soldiers
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by EricDSnider

"A fantastic, low-budget war movie."
5 stars

Within the genre of films by Mormons, about Mormons, "Saints and Soldiers" is easily the best. (If you didn't know there was such a genre, you must not live in Utah.) Take it out of the genre comparison, though, and it still holds up. Intelligent, mature and thoughtful, it is one of the better films of any kind that you'll see this year.

On Dec. 17, 1944, German soldiers opened fire on a group of unarmed American prisoners near the Belgian town of Malmedy, killing 86 of them. "Saints and Soldiers" opens with this massacre and follows a handful of U.S. soldiers who escape into the woods. There is Sgt. Gunderson (Peter Asle Holden), now the de facto commanding officer of the little group; Louisiana boy Kendrick (Larry Bagby), who is going through serious nicotine withdrawal; Brooklyn native Gould (Alexander Niver); and Greer (Corbin Allred), nicknamed Deacon for his religious practices.

Deacon doesn't drink or smoke, he carries a little "Bible" around with him, and he was a missionary in pre-war Germany. Though the word "Mormon" is never used, it's clear that's what he is, though I suppose a non-Mormon viewer might take him for a Jehovah's Witness or a fundamentalist Christian. (Those of us in the know catch the giveaway: He's from Snowflake, Ariz., where EVERYONE is Mormon.)

While hiding from the Germans and still deciding on a course of action, the band finds Oberon Winley (Kirby Heyborne), a British paratrooper who has landed in their midst. He has critical information that he must get to the nearest Allies command post before the Germans cross the Muse River. And so the plan is set: Get there before the bad guys do.

Through snow, cold and under the constant threat of being found by the Germans, the group trudges toward safety. But Deacon, the best marksman in the group, hasn't slept in several days, and he is haunted by something, remembrances he keeps having of an earlier miscalculation. Gould, in particular, is mistrusting of Deacon, given his previous association with and affinity for the German people.

The performances are solid all around, particularly from Corbin Allred as the tormented Deacon and Alexander Niver (who played the little boy on "Charles in Charge" in the '80s) as Gould. None of the performances are maudlin or melodramatic, even when the events are dire; the tendency to overact in highly dramatic situations is repressed.

Geoffrey Panos and Matt Whitaker's screenplay is tightly written, drawing the characters with enough strokes to give them personality but not weighing the thing down with needless exposition or backstory. It explores the inherent conflict between religion and war, the idea that one must sometimes give up one's personal responsibility in order to fight for something bigger, even if it means doing things one is normally opposed to.

The director is Ryan Little, who also made the little-seen but commendable "Out of Step" (2002). Little acts as cinematographer, too, and "Saints and Soldiers" is a highly polished, visceral film in that regard. The tone is intense and atmospheric; still, while distinctly "light" moments are few, the film nonetheless is not oppressive or dreary. It is dramatic, in the most complimentary sense of that word. It engages the emotions and the senses subtly and expertly.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10302&reviewer=247
originally posted: 08/06/04 04:06:04
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User Comments

4/13/15 jokerass lol 1 stars
1/13/12 Monday Morning Best movie I've seen in a long time. Very much worth seeing. 5 stars
8/08/08 James Brown Definitely a movie, fulfilled my expectations by being a movie 5 stars
9/30/07 daveyt enjoyable, well crafted film 4 stars
9/18/07 Gareth J M Saunders A moving, deep story and beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted. 5 stars
1/03/06 Dick Quality WWII and pscho-emotional drama 4 stars
11/20/05 R.W.Welch Surprisingly adept Battle of the Bulge drama. Has grit. 4 stars
9/10/05 R Wakeley Excellent film, better than most war movies 4 stars
8/04/05 Char Lyn Yeakley I figured it was an overhyped war story. It actually lived up to all of the hype! 5 stars
6/10/05 Megan It's a great movie, you should see it if you haven 5 stars
6/06/05 Jay Mackley Great movie. Engaging. Never knew it was "low budget". 5 stars
6/01/05 cb Made me bawl. I loved it! 5 stars
6/01/05 Katie Harris I love history! Thanks for making this history come alive. 5 stars
12/14/04 Michael White Beautiful. Not Preachy, very strong! 5 stars
10/22/04 Pamela Smith I'm recommending this to everyone I know. That means something. 5 stars
10/08/04 Michael Wei excellent and uplifting! 5 stars
10/03/04 Capt Jack Worst film seen in 2004 1 stars
9/09/04 K. Danor Gerald A well-made film... about war in the larger sense of their impact on individual humanity. 4 stars
8/30/04 Carolyn It was wonderful, the best LDS film yet 5 stars
8/28/04 henry miles best movie I have seen in the past couple of years 5 stars
8/28/04 Michael An extremely well done film. Better than 98% of the pathetic crap that fills the theaters. 5 stars
8/17/04 v so glad I saw it! 5 stars
8/13/04 K.W. Amazing. Very well done. Will see again. 5 stars
8/06/04 josh whitchurch it was a great movie one of the best this year 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Aug-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 31-May-2005

UK
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