The Yellow Birds
Drama / War
The Yellow Birds
Drama / War
"Yellow Birds" follows John Bartle and the difficulties he faces in keeping his humanity, his urge to survive and his friend Murph alive during the war in Iraq, as well as his life and struggles with his memories of the war after he comes back to Virginia.
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June 16, 2018 at 03:21 PM
A prime example of how NOT to make a War film.
For the first half hour or so I didn't know what to make of this film. The tone was all over the place and I couldn't tell if the filmmaker wanted to make a War film or a drama.
I'll do my best not to spoil anything, but it wouldn't matter if I did, as this film isn't worth your time. It was very clear throughout the film that the writers/filmmaker, either weren't very knowledgeable of the US Army and how soldiers address each other, conduct themselves, or what battle drills are or how they are conducted.
These two young soldiers we follow constantly refer to a non-commissioned officer as "sir". Anybody who has served knows that is a big no no and would earn them a nice smoke session(forced strenuous PT) until they address him properly. This is just one of many issues with the film.
I honestly have no clue when this movie is set. Based on their uniforms I assume it takes place during the early stages of the invasion of Iraq, yet bars and private homes have modern flat screen wall mounted tv sets? Also there is a scene near the beginning, of the two leads meeting each other at a shooting range, but I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be at bootcamp, or at their assigned duty station. This film is rife with this style of poor writing.
The War scenes should've either been cut entirely or presented more ambiguously. Because these actors and the director slept walked right through them. None of it felt earned or organic, which is partially due to the lifeless foley. The rifles, LMGs, explosions, hiss/snaps of incoming fire etc. all sounded like it was meant to be marketed to the elderly, so it wouldn't hurt their ears. I'm surprised nobody stepped in and told this director to get some kind of energy and passion out of the actors.
By about the fifty minute mark it was clear that they were going for a mystery/drama, but even that felt unearned. None of the dramatic scenes felt natural, it felt as though the writer was searching for something to keep the audience invested.
This wasn't the worst War film I've seen, but it's not a good one either. It tries too hard to be multiple different things at once, the acting was average at best, there wasn't enough build up to any of the plot points, the directing was weak for the most part. There is a good movie in here.... Somewhere. They just couldn't find it.
The mechanics of this movie were good, the quality of the movie was good, the acting itself was just OK but a little bit lacking, for that it barely scratches a 5 for me. First let's get a pure aesthetic thing out of the way. If you are going to make a war film, get the actual equipment right. The U.S. Army uses Blackhawk helicopters and have for quite awhile now. Go to the military's public affairs office, find their office that works with Hollywood and the film industry and arrange for some Blackhawks not Huey's. The movie comes off as high quality enough to take that step. Oh, and you are not going to have those gun truck, Humvees with turrets, supporting you without someone in the hatch with some fire power.
Now. The acting here was just OK, not great, maybe good. The scenes though and the whole plot reveal at the end...it is just hogwash. Plain and simple. This is not how soldiers behave and not what I (as a veteran) can tell you, would even be imaginable. The platoon/ company/ chain of command dynamic is completely absent. The squad dynamic is altogether wrong, and those are huge plot holes. The writer has only a small vague understanding of how men and women in our armed forces behave, and interact with each other and how military operations work. I am trying not to give away any spoilers but the incident in the film is something that would be a million to one shot of happening in real life, and the way the follow on was carried out would have even longer odds. That doesn't even get to the odds that soldiers would think in this way, let alone carry out. Frankly, I can't even imagine a scenario where anything like this could actually even be conceived or even began to be carried out without hitting immediate large roadblocks that would cease it immediately in today's military. Again I can give it a 5 on some of it's cinematic merits but ultimately it doesn't overcome huge realistic obstacles. I don't believe it has any political/ideological objectives as far as being pro or anti-war. If it did it fails on that but I'm hoping that there wasn't one. Mostly this just suffers from a real lack of realism which draws in a lack of real connection and feeling. If they changed it into a more entertaining action movie that might make it more passable, but for the drama they were trying to portray it was overall lacking.
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not a good one!
I don´t know if this movie was trying to create another american-hero based stories or just tried to be against war!
We´ve seen many times that how HW tries to justify Iraq´s invasion as a helping mission. Or show american soldiers as heroes and enemy as terrorist which is understandable propaganda by US movie industry.
But this one wasn´t even clear about that, nor it was clear if it wants to show bad things about war.