Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Miracle at St. Anna”

(Touchstone Pictures. 2 hours, 40 minutes. 2009. Color. Widescreen. 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 latest joint tells the story of a squad of Buffalo Soldiers (members of the 9th Cavalry, a regiment composed primarily of African Americans) who are stranded in a small Italian village in World War II, and the hardships they face at the hands of the Nazis and their own superior officers. While I applaud Spike’s efforts in telling a story that does need to be told, this movie never achieves the grandeur at which it aims. The performances are good overall, the photography is beautiful and the music is top notch, but the movie itself could use a better editor. It’s about a half hour too long, and the pacing is disjointed, punctuating some nicely executed scenes with unnecessary humor. While some of the scenes deftly illustrate the racism these men suffered through, others feel clunky and heavy-handed. One subplot involves Sam Train and a young boy he rescued, and while those scenes are engaging and entertaining, they felt out of place in this film, and probably could have stood in a movie of their own. The film is bookended by two segments set in the 1980s that show what happened to the statue’s head, but the story could have functioned without them (especially the end segment, which felt very contrived and lessened the impact of the rest of the film). The DVD is criminally short on extras, containing the film itself and a couple of ads for other movies. I’ve dubbed it the “Here’s Your Movie, Now Get Off My Lawn” edition. A good effort hampered by poor execution.

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Jared Counts

Digital Technology Manager

Jared Counts moved to Houston in 1995, survived high school and college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a degree in Communications (Media Production) and a minor in Film Studies. After being hired part-time at KUHF Radio in early 2003, he proceeded to bounce between...

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