Friday, August 24, 2012

Casualties of War (1989)

Vietnam War Movie # 10

Synopsis: Worst Back to the Future sequel ever!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Hailed by critics as a masterpiece, CASUALTIES OF WAR is based on the true story of soldiers caught in the moral quagmire of wartime Vietnam. Witness to a vile crime, Private Ericksson (Michael J. Fox, BACK TO THE FUTURE) is forced to stand alone against his fellow soldiers and commanding officer Sergeant Meserve (Sean Penn, WE’RE NO ANGELS, COLORS), a powerful and charismatic man pushed over the edge of barbarism by the terror and brutality of combat.”

What Did I Learn?: The word “man” ought to be used sparingly when writing dialogue set in the 1960s.

Really?: 1) What are the odds that one of Eriksson’s (Fox) fellow soldiers would idly mention the possibility that they could be standing on top of a Viet Cong tunnel, only to suddenly become stuck half-way between the tunnel ceiling and the jungle floor? That seems a bit much. 2) So wait – Eriksson somehow hits a Viet Cong grenade with a lucky shot from his M-79 grenade launcher?

Rating: Casualties of War is a very mediocre Vietnam movie with a number of problems: the plot is highly derivative of Platoon, Michael J. Fox is hopelessly miscast as a green-but-tough army grunt (I kept thinking “Alex P. Keaton/Marty McFly goes to war!”), the highly repetitive musical score sounds a LOT like the score from Once Upon a Time in America (Ennio Morricone did both), and the dialogue is simply atrocious: Fox either shakes his head and says things like: “this ain’t the Army, Sarge”, or he editorializes – more than once - about right and wrong. Oh, and speaking of highly repetitive, nearly every sentence employs the word “man”. That’s just lazy writing. 5.5/10 stars.

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