Friday, October 31, 2014

In which I review Fury.

So I saw FURY. And people have been asking me what I think of it. Pretty good actually.  I highly suggest you see it in a good theater with a big screen and audio system as there are moments that just will not feel the same on DVD.  By now everyone has probably read the story so I don’t think anyone cares about spoilers.   There are some amazing scenes which are just magnificent.

I think there are three main elements we'd all be interested in: the story, the props and wardrobe, and the acting..

There are no two ways around it: the story is moronic. There some hints if you pay attention as to why the Germans at the end are the stupidest idiots ever.  But even if you pay attention and add a grain of salt to it, its just plain stupid. And if you pay attention you'll see the SS platoons have what looks like 3 or 4 panzerfausts each. Thus in the final battle when the Germans  open up the (accurate) boxes of panzerfausts and say "be careful these are all we have," they've kind of screwed themselves.

I got the feeling that there were things that the director wrote in the initial scrip that he was too wedded to realize they should be cut.  The advice always given to writer is to "kill your darlings." This means if you have something in a story you really, really love but it's not really working, you have to be able to kill a character off, or write something out. This actually happens to me writing military stuff. I will get something (a phrase, photo, caption, whatever) stuck in my mind as being great. Then when I really get to it, it doesn’t feel right, and I need to give up my great idea for the greater good.


There are amazing moments, but the plot really is unforgivable. And to those that say "it is Hollywood," and "it has to have a story the public would like" I say this: good and clever writing can turn a stupid situation into a believable one.


Case in point. Grenades are tossed into the tank at the end, and the guys sit and talk while the fuses burn. Then Bucky Dent (or whatever his name is) gets out the escape hatch while the grenades are sizzlin' while we are led to believe he has never done this before even in practice.  So, how to fix it? Have them talk their talk, then have him get out the hatch, and just as he wiggles out the Germans toss in the grenades.  Stupidity avoided. Same basic story is told.

Want a last stand of a tank? Cut the time from the mine going off to when the SS show up. Do not give them time to ponder the meaning of life. Yeah, you lose the drama of the guys deciding to die as a team rather than run away and live. So you add some drama to the next interior scene when they realize they left their SPARE ammo on the back of the tank (ahem) and they are all going to die.

Make the SS troops the remnants of a training school (which I think they were supposed to be) and make them all young kids.  They shoot their initial panzerfaust from too far a distance as the grizzled sergeant screams at them they are too far away.  Let them march in threes on a road with the Jabos up there as the commandant is idiotic and wants them to sing and march as in training, which same grizzled sgt keeps watching to the enemy planes.  


Saying, "it's Hollywood' is a cop out. They spend craploads of money to get "the best there is" so unless people demand smarter scripts they will stint on the writing.   So, just ignore the plot. It's stupid.  And we deserve better.

Now as to props and wardrobe it's really good. It is a collector's wet dream of everything under the sun. Some of the details are great, and therein lays the problem. There are so many details and obscure references that a lot of people are going to say things that are correct are wrong, or just not understand what is going on. Just because you have 57 different varieties of uniforms does not mean you have to use them all.  More is not always better. It just tries too hard, as if they were trying to cram as many things as possible into it, and all the time winking to collectors "hey, look what cool stuff we used."  Neat, but I found it distracting.

I would debate the mixed and bedraggled GI's (no two look alike) for April. They really look to me as if they are from Jan-Feb or so.  By April things were different, and the ports were open and working. But yeah, everything is individually correct, but as a whole I think it fails to create a proper picture. Deep mud and overcoats do not a happy GI make.  Extra points for mud and grease, but maybe it was a little too much? 

So top marks for having the right stuff, but it's too much of a good thing.  I guess you can be too authentic.

Acting is OK, I did not detest Brad Pitt as much as I thought I would. Shia Lebouf was OK, but then tears up and he's lost me. I could not look at him anymore without thinking of Iron Eyes Cody (look it up kids).  My pick for outstanding job goes to Jon Berthnal (Shawn from Walking Dead). A lot of people will not like his goofy southern boy, but I know exactly what he was going for and he nailed it.  

As in everything, they will not make films with better scripts until we demand them. Keep on excusing them for having to be "Hollywood" and they will keep doing it.  Yeah, it's a good movie, but if only they had toned it down some and written it so it made some logical sense it would have been a great movie.