Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Miracle at St. Anna”

(Touchstone Pictures. 2 hours, 40 minutes. Rated R for strong war violence, language and some sexual content/nudity. Directed by Spike Lee.) Derek Luke (Aubrey Stamps), Michael Ealy (Bishop Cummings), Laz Alonso (Hector Negron), Omar Benson Miller (Sam Train), Pierfrancesco Favino (Peppi Grotta), Valentina Cervi (Renata), John Turturro (Tony Ricci), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tim Boyle). Music by Terence Blanchard.

Spike Lee’s success a few years ago with the heist movie Inside Man enabled him to get financing for this project, about the African-American “Buffalo Soldiers” who served in World War II at the time when the Army was still segregated. Four men are trapped in a small town in Italy at the end of the war; one risks everything to save a small Italian boy. I admire Spike’s effort in tackling the subject of the black soldier’s experience, which hasn’t been explored in films. Spike’s attempting his “Big War Movie” (his own Schindler’s List, if you will), but he doesn’t have Spielberg’s ability to corral the various elements needed to make a film on this scale work. He’s too self-indulgent here, the movie’s awfully long, and the last half-hour or so leaves the audience hammered (and not in a good way). Spike’s one of those filmmakers who does better without a mega-budget. Good score by Blanchard, Spike’s regular composer, who could have been better served.