1917 – Neat Trick, Slow Movie

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

Summary: Fortunately for “1917” I had just watched a really bad movie. Since “1917” wasn’t as bad as that movie I couldn’t rate it a 1, but I really wanted to. Why you ask? The movie is slow. It starts well, but after 20 minutes the movie grinds to a halt and the pace only picks up for a couple of other scenes providing any good action.

The movie must have been written about 3 or 4 stories then some writer feebly attempted to string them together. We stop for milk merely to provide milk later to an orphaned baby. To quote ESPN, C’mon Man!

Plot: Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay) are ordered to run across battlefields to save 1,600 men from facing certain death, including Blake’s brother.

Detail: The movie is one-shot, following Lance Corporal Schofield from waking up in a grassy field, through the trenches, into the town, into a river, etc. The technique creates energy and intensity for the first 25 minutes. After an hour it is tiring and simply a gimmick. Technique does not overcome a boring and inconsistent storyline.

The true failure of this movie is the story. First, Blake pushes Schofield hard to move rapidly, because he is driven to save his brother. His drive propelled the movie and generated energy. He maintains this singular focus until we arrive at a deserted farmhouse. Then all of a sudden, he wants to look around and apparently save a German pilot. That shift in character was simply inconsistent with the setup.

Schofield, who is reluctant about the mission stops to explore the farmhouse even though he has a bad feeling about it. How they went through the farmhouse and acted was counter to the cautiousness he exhibited previously. He would have kept moving from a place of focus like the farmhouse. But hey, let’s stay, gets some milk, look around, watch a dogfight, rescue a German. WTF.

Shot the goddamn German. Why didn’t we? The director required an event to force the plot to the next point. The German and milk were forced story ploys and inconsistent character setups. There were other times when I wanted to shout at the screen, shoot the goddamn German. But no, running away was his method of survival.

These Germans must be the same crew they use for Stormtroopers because they can’t kill anyone. There are numerous times when Schofield should have died but the German bullets somehow couldn’t touch him.

I could go on-on-on with the inconsistencies or holes I observed. He crosses the river and starts getting snipped at by a German. But the British soldiers who provided him a lift in a truck don’t wait to see him cross or provide support. C’mon Man!

He finds a woman and a baby in the devasted town. Low and behold he has milk to save the baby. C’mon Man!

He crosses the river to enter the German-controlled town. He runs from the Germans/Stormtroopers and jumps into the river. The town is on his right side. He gets out on the left bank, where the troops he is seeking are. So why the f&*^ did he enter the town with the Germans. C’Mon Man!

He is about to pass out and die in the river until cherry blossom petals snow on top of him. A reference Blake made much earlier in the film. But he gets out of the river, and not a cherry tree in sight. C’Mon Man!

When I recall all the war movies I have seen, this is almost at the very bottom. Really if you are interested in World War I, watch Peter Jackson’s documentary, “They Shall Not Grow Old”.