*** "WINDTALKERS" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Jun 8, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Windtalkers". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    "Windtalkers" was excellent. It's a stunning piece of movie making, and the character development under the backdrop of US soldiers making a raid on the Japanese island of Saipan in WWII will make your jaw drop.

    If you enjoy the war film genre, this is the film for you. The battle footage was pretty much mind-numbing in its intensity and relentlessness. You'll feel like you've run 10 miles in combat boots with a soldier on your shoulders in muddy terrain dodging mortar shells after seeing "Windtalkers".

    The performances by Nicolas Cage and Adam Beach were very good, and so were the supporting performances. The screenplay allows for room to develop many of the characters, and I found myself hooked into the film, so it worked for me.

    I think John Woo found a good balance in his traditional Hong Kong style and how to relate to a predominantly Amercian audience. There were some patented John Woo action sequences, but overall, he went with intensity over style.

    I give it 4 stars or a grade of A.
     
  3. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I thought it was pretty good, but not great.
    It's definitely more of an action movie than a realistic war movie. The battle scenes involve a lot of explosions, screaming, bleeding, flying limbs, and Nicolas Cage waving a blazing tommy gun around with one hand. Unlike We Were Soldiers or Black Hawk Down, this is NOT realistic war violence by any stretch. You rarely get the feeling that you're watching a BATTLE in progress--just a lot of guys shooting at each other. BHD and WWS were absolutely brilliant in the way they told a story through action. In those movies, the way the viewer could follow what was going on amidst all that battlefield chaos was really amazing. (As long as I'm sidetracked already, let me say that Ridley Scott got completely JOBBED out of the Best Director Oscar!)
    On the other hand, the whole point of those films was to tell the story of a battle, while Windtalkers is more of an action movie that happens to have warfare as its backdrop. The battle for Saipan itself is not the central theme.
    That said, the story does work (more so the second half than the first), and Nicolas Cage actually acts a little bit. [​IMG] There are only about four characters that get fleshed out at all, but that's enough. The movie moves along at a good clip and doesn't really take too many wrong turns.
    3.5 stars out of 5 from me.
     
  4. Richard F

    Richard F Extra

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    I also enjoyed this movie and would give it four stars. The battle sequences were excellent and I thought very realistic.I can't wait for the DVD.Incidentally some people may notice that parts of the movie were shot on the same location as the scene in Pearl Harbor where the Japanese planes are coming in through the valley between the steep mountains of Oahu. This is a very popular location for Hollywood producers.
     
  5. Rollo Lee

    Rollo Lee Agent

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    Sensational movie! To me, Windtalkers was very touching and emotional. I've read criticism that it was corny. Perhaps, but every time I thought it would go over the top with the cheese, it went the other way in a more subdued fashion. I found We Were Soldiers to be a helluva lot more tacky. And the battle sequences! Holy cow. Amazing stuff yet they are completely unlike anything John Woo has done before. Almost no slow mo. Just tight, incredibly tense, ferocious action. Truly awe-inspiring. Sure, they are a little bit unrealistic at times, but when they are over you feel as emotionally spent as the best scenes from SPR or We Were Soldiers. So they definitely get the job done and do NOT play like Rambo or a popcorn action movie if that's what you are worried about..

    Absolutely worth your money and if you give it a chance I think you will truly be moved by the time the credits roll.
     
  6. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Seems I'm in the minority with this one! Oh well, hope you like the review...
    Windtalkers [​IMG][​IMG] out of 5
    Yet another movie lesson we don't need: 'How Genres Recycle'
    The painful deluge of sex comedies that's washed through the theaters over the past two years can be directly attributed to the popularity of American Pie. The new-wave slasher renaissance of 2000 was the direct result of Wes Craven's Scream. Currently, Hollywood is in a 'war-movie' mood, and (thanks to the much-discussed Act I of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan) the mantra seems to be: Gore is Good.
    Windtalkers is one of those utterly predictable and ultimately shallow "war flicks" that tries to put an important face on all the carnage, yet 85% of the movie consists of blood for shock value and explosions for the "gee whiz" factor. Not since the 1985 Oscar-winner Missing in Action 2: The Beginning have I seen this many ridiculous "grenade gags". You know the drill: hero throws grenade, grenade explodes, several enemies go hurtling through the air like baseballs. That the Chuck Norris "grenade gag" occurs about 7 times during Windtalkers is a good indication of how serious-minded the film is.
    Nicolas Cage (opting to work in blank zombie mode this time out) plays Sgt. Joe Enders, an commander who has recently lost his entire platoon (it was his fault, of course) to a wide array of colorful deaths. After stewing about with a bum ear at the local vet's hospital, Enders is given a new assignment; he's to be paired up with a Native American 'codetalker' who will be able to relay important coordinates and recipes without them pesky Japanese listening in. Enders is ordered to protect codetalker Yahzee at all costs...unless of course they're both captured...in which case Enders would be forced to protect the code (ie - kill Yahzee) in overtly dramatic fashion.
    Nothing sums up a good war epic like a plot than can be described in one sentence, and Windtalkers nails that one plot device into the blood-soaked ground. It's obvious that by adding the whole 'noble savage' and 'cure racism through warfare' themes, the filmmakers were hoping to add a little meat to this essentially insubstantial affair, but the "code" stuff is given perhaps 20 minutes screen time, and the rest of what's on display isn't exactly anything to hoot and holler for.
    When you say a film has "lots of action", that's almost always a compliment. But in the case of Windtalkers, the numerous battle sequences are choppy, uninvolving, and more than a little derivative. Aside from the aforementioned grenade gag, Windtalkers hosts a laundry list of war flick cliches that should have been retired along with Ronald Reagan. If I told you there was one racist soldier who refuses to accept the Navajo soldiers, would that stun you? Or would you make the next logical connection - that the racist soldier would soon be on the receiving end of some good ol' Navajo heroics. This same exact plot hook is used in every war movie! Do they really think moviegoers sitting through Windtalkers haven't seen The Patriot or Glory?
    I digress. Lazy screenwriting is as predictable as tax season, and about as enjoyable. To be completely honest, I find a screenplay littered with one yawning cliche after another an insult to my intelligence, so the 'other stuff' better be pretty damn good.
    In this case, the 'other stuff' is nearly as bad. Though Windtalkers certainly has a copious amount of battleground explosions and flying bullets, very few of these sequences actually pound your pulse. There's the indefinable little internal oomph you get when you're watching a great action sequence, and I didn't get that sensation once during Windtalkers. The action scenes seem too polished, too rote, and way too overbaked. Much like in the vastly superior Black Hawk Down, the unending sea of enemies pour forth from the jungle like so many Romero zombies. Our soldiers plow right through them and more pop up.
    The performances are uniformly acceptable, with only Cage's incessant glower a consistent bore. Adam Beach (Mystery Alaska) plays the dimensionless Yahzee with all the charm he can muster, but the character is written to be a Navajo Superman Saint, so he doesn't have too many shades to work with. Christian Slater (Heathers) adds some color as another 'code protector', while Jason Isaacs (The Patriot) shows up just just long enough to make you wish he had more scenes. Likable character actors Peter Stormare, Mark Ruffalo and Noah Emmerich get to put on camoflague and play War with the big boys. Good for them.
    I don't know why anyone thought John Woo was the right guy for a wartime action drama, but it's clear that Woo works best indoors...and in Hong Kong. His American films (Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Mission: Impossible 2) have all been no better than 'interesting failures', despite what the Box-Office Gods may have to say. (OK, I really dug Face/Off, but that doesn't necessarily make it a good film.) The director's affinity for 'operatic carnage' is given free reign over these WWII battlefields, yet each successive skirmish is as tiresome and paint-by-numberesque as the one before.
    A couple of cool jolts and a few tips of the hat to cinematographer Jeffrey Kimball save this one from being a total disaster. Windtalkers is strictly a 'going-through-the-motions' motion picture product, one that's entirely beholden to earlier (and infinitely better) war films.
     
  7. Bill Harris

    Bill Harris Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a totally different view on this movie. To me , this movie is Pearl Harbour with an R-Rating. Nothing in this movie was new or even close to being original. It is all a rehash from other war/genre movie that werent very good to begin with. It scares me when a movie shot by JOHN WOO and let me repeat that for effect..JOHN WOO looks worse than any of the Band of Brothers episodes or even We Were Solders. Maybe im nieve to think that Speilberg and Malik made 2 great war films in the last 5 years to show people how they should be done. I guess no one listened or watched. Its a shame with the talent behind this picture.
     
  8. Jason Hennigan

    Jason Hennigan Stunt Coordinator

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    Put me on the list of people who hated this movie. Quite honestly, this is the worst movie I've seen in a long time.

    More cliches than a single person can shake a stick at, poor acting, and TERRIBLE script all lend to this film's repulsiveness.

    As much of a fan of War films, and John Woo films that I am, this was aweful. Nothing original (other than showing the Codetalkers, I can't think of any other films that have done that), overly predictable, and bland cinemetography (as painful as it is to say that about a John Woo film). If I didn't already know that John Woo directed this film, I probably would have thought that it was a Simon West film.

    Unless you've got money burning a hole in your pocket (which does happen from time to time), don't watch this movie. Wait until it's on FOX.
     
  9. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    This one was a big disappointment to me. I won't say it sucked, but it was completely uninvolving. That may be a bigger sin.
    Cage sleepwalks through this one. I hate to say it, but I'm thinking Senn Penn is right about his post-Oscar career. The rest of the actors are OK, given that their characters are all walking war-movie cliches. And what was up with Stormare's accent? It was all over the place.
    I don't understand why Frances O'Connor was in this picture. That plotline went nowhere.
    The battle action was particularly a letdown. We've seen searingly realistic battles in Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, and yes, We Were Soldiers. I think the reason those films worked wasn't so much the carnage as it was the way they depicted the randomness & chaos of battle. In Windtalkers, everything felt scripted. For example, you KNEW that once the flamethrower guy made his comment about roasting human beings he was doomed to a fiery death. The final sequence was the worst, with four men (two of them wounded) holding off wave after wave of Japanese soldiers who were apparently taught to shoot by Imperial Stormtroopers. It was ludicrous.
    At the end of each of the three earlier films I mentioned above, I found myself moved to tears. At the end of Windtalkers, I felt only relief that it was over. What a shame - there's a great story to tell about the Navajo codetalkers. Windtalkers isn't it.
     
  10. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    What..A..Piece..Of...SHITE!
    John Woo's Windtalkers is the years worst film. I absolutely HATED this travesty of a film.
    It was a cliched, insulting, boring, violence glorifying retread of every other (better) war film you have ever seen. An insult to the brave men who fought for us in the great war, confirmed by the WWII veteran I spoke to after it was over who said it was terrible and a complete waste of time!
    The performances by ALL were uniformly terrible. Ncolas Cage looked like he was sleepwalking though this role. Adam Beach unfortunately does not have the range to convey the emotions that the film was trying to convey. The supporting characters were equally bad and immediately forgettable.
    The battle scenes were ridiculously over the top. Slow motion ballets of blood and gore poorly choreographed like a dance of death and torture. Hollywood'ized to the point of being absurd. And dull too. Sound and fury signifying nothing indeed!
    Character development was no more than cliched stereotypes of soldiers with demons, redneck racists who of course change their tune, and recycled Native American portrayals. And the inevitable outcome that was telegraphed in the first ten minutes was emotionally void.
    Entirely predictable from beginning to end.
    I was hoping to learn something about the Navajo "Codetalkers" from this film. No chance as it focused it's attention mostly on Nicolas Cage's dull, moping character with very little insight into these brave men who helped turn the tide of the war. Watch the History Channel special instead.
    This is by far the years WORST film and also John Woo's worst. My advice is to avoid it at all costs. I sure wish I had!
    [​IMG]1/2[​IMG]
     
  11. Mark Hobbs

    Mark Hobbs Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm amazed at the early positive reviews in this thread.

    Windtalkers is easily the worst movie I have seen this year. I'm a fan of war movies but this one is ridiculous.

    2/10
     
  12. Matt_R

    Matt_R Stunt Coordinator

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    I have to agree with the negative comments about this movie. I knew nothing about it and my friend was really pushing to see this movie... so I went last night and when the opening credits started and I saw John Woo's name, I just moaned - John Woo WAR MOVIE??? Just think about that before you see this movie... absolutely the WORST movie I've seen in awhile... well, I just watched Ocean's 11 the other day... that's a close second.
     
  13. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    I wanted to post a scathing review of Windtalkers but you guys beat me to it. As stated previously, it is dreadful. John Woo continues to hammer home the fact that he is only capable of making a stylish film, not a substantive one. The whole film had a "falseness" to it. The uniforms were too perfectly ragged and worn. The dirt was too perfectly smattered on Cage's face. The dual indian flute/harmonica scenes were appalling. Why didn't Woo just run a neon banner along the frame that said "Gee, don't you just think this is heartfelt?". All in all, every frame was just a watered-down version of ideas. Did they say "Let's make every scene look as fake and as sensationalistic as possible"? If so, mission accomplished. They must have discussed this film to death because that what the end result turned out to be-D.O.A.
    Windtalkers- (no stars)
    Bruce
     
  14. BooneG

    BooneG Stunt Coordinator

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    I loved this movie!!! This is John Woo's best American film since Face/Off. The story was cliched but so what? The film was about friendship and honor and I think that both ideas were hammered home. The war scenes were great too. They weren't ultra realistic but just enough. I loved this movie.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] 1/2 out of four
     
  15. DaleBesh

    DaleBesh Stunt Coordinator

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    I enjoyed the movie as strictly entertainment. The artillery really rocked my sub. Seriously, I don't get that cerebral with movies, if I want that kind of involvement I read a good book.
    I just want to be stimulated by good photography, good sound, and decent acting.
    I thought the acting was good considering the script was quite contrived. But the story of the windtalkers is what it is, and it did not take long to show what it was all about. By that off-hand comment I don't mean to understate the importance of it during the battle of the Pacific.
    No, WT did not have the authenticism of Sgt. Ryan, but then this was a short history lesson, not the replication of a major battle.
    Given what it is, it is fine for home entertainment. I think it would have been a bit long in the tooth if I was confined to a movie theater. A strong C for entertainment, good acting, and a passable script that perhaps undermined the message of the film somewhat.
    John Woo cutting his teeth on the American GI showed it's something that probably always has interested him, but he did not have quite a enough 'know-how' to carry it off.
    War movies are easy to find fault with. Even the great ones from the 50s were quite campy when you watch them today.
    Some war movies are even ugly. But it's not a pretty subject to begin with, so who's to say there is any proper way to show it, except to express it is violence supreme, and man at his worst.
     

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