War Movie

On a hillside overlooking the beaches of Normandy, American soldiers surround a Korean and a Japanese man wearing Nazi uniforms. This is the second-most intriguing image of Mai-wei, the WWII epic from writer/director Je-gyu Kang. What’s even more fascinating is that the image is drawn directly from real life. How they got there (and into Hitler’s army no less) is a story told while trudging through the freezing mountains of Russia and the hot open plains of Korea. It’s an enormous movie, told through a decade as two competitive marathon runners – Jun-shik Kim (Dong-gun Jang) and Tatsuo Hasegawa (Jo Odagiri) – begin as alienated enemies and become friends through the brittle evolution of battle. Certainly its most striking achievements are the extended, highly-choreographed war scenes that steal the breath right out of your lungs. The visual style is an angrier version of Saving Private Ryan, but instead of beginning with Normandy, Mai-wei ends with it, and instead of having a few huge battles, Mai-wei has a solid half-dozen. Make no mistake; it’s a movie that slams your head into the wall without giving you a helmet.

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Zack Snyder has been involved with the upcoming, set in Afghanistan drama The Last Photograph from the very beginning. Since the project’s inception he has served as a co-writer and a producer. When you hear that Snyder is involved with a drama set in a war torn country, the concept instantly sends up some red flags. How would his flashy, comic-booky style fit with more real-world, dramatic subject matter than men in loin clothes eviscerating each other or girls in short skirts fighting giant robots? In the past this wasn’t too much of a concern, however, as Snyder was just in a producer’s role. The director’s job was going to go to someone else, and that someone else ended up being The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo helmer Niels Arden Oplev. He’s good, right? Yay, everyone cheers, and we all live happily ever after. Not so fast. Twitch is now reporting that Oplev has dropped out of the project for mysterious reasons, and seeing as he is already so engaged in it’s development, Snyder is going to step into the director’s role as an easy fit. The Last Photograph should fit perfectly into Snyder’s schedule, as he can slip right into shooting after he finishes work on the Superman reboot Man of Steel. That brings up some problems. Will Christian Bale’s reporter character be doing slow motion spin moves, snapping off photographs in mid air, while mortar shells explode around him? Will we get a scene of Sean Penn’s character […]

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For the past decade or so Rob Cohen has made a career out of doing films that people’s little brothers would like. From The Fast and the Furious, to xXx, to Stealth, all of the guy’s work epitomizes the sort of aesthetic that can make a 15-year-old boy look up from his portable gaming system and go, “that looks pretty cool.” So what do you imagine his next film is going to be about? Snow boarding assassins, drag racing bikini models, or President Obama declaring that homework is outlawed? No, not even close. Try, the Korean War. With 1950, Cohen will be telling the life story of Marguerite Higgins. She was a journalist working for the New York Herald Tribune as their Far East bureau chief and is something of a feminist figure. Higgins was banned by the US Army from covering the war in Korea because she was a woman, but eventually became so persistent in her intentions to do so that she not only got to cover the war like all of her male colleagues, she also got permission from Douglas MacArthur to work on the front lines.

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Any high school student who has ever slogged through Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front has probably hungered for a shiny new film adaptation of the war novel to supplement their dedicated consumption of SparkNotes or CliffsNotes or whatever it is the young people use these days. And now they’re getting one! From the director of Pay It Forward! Mimi Leder (who has, to be fair, also helmed Deep Impact, The Peacemaker, and a mess of gritty TV) will direct a new adaptation of Remarque’s classic novel about the horrors of World War I. Leder will be working from a script by Ian Stokell and Lesley Paterson. The pair’s first feature, The Negotiation, still appears to be in production for a release sometime this year. Remarque, a veteran of WWI himself, shaped his novel around the fictional story of German soldier Paul Bäumer. The novel charts Paul from bright-eyed schoolboy to hardened solider, changes that come thanks to the hell of war, which Remarque depicts unflinchingly. It’s bloody and dirty and sad and traumatizing. In short, it’s a big bummer.

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OAM-Stalag17

Stalag 17 begins with an escape from the tightly controlled Luftwaffe prison camp during the last year of WWII. As the two men snake their way through a tunnel, it’s a little too easy for the Germans to find them and fill them full of bullets. The meaning is clear. There’s a rat amongst our heroes.

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Wolfgang Peterson

Wolfgang Peterson has signed on to direct something that sounds almost exactly like Battlefield Earth. I am afraid.

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No one is looking forward to the next Boll film, but it has a trailer up anyways.

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