(1/1/2017 Update edited for corrections; written as is.)
Of course the first combat sequence was great. But unfortunately, I was considered a sociopath for snickering at a man wandering around to pick up his dismembered arm, while the camera is still shaking on the ground — it became obvious that Spielberg tries too hard to elicit the emotions from a cynical person like me.
I eventually became sick and nauseated at having been forced to watch the ultimately annoying and repetitive guerrilla cinematography, while the violence and mayhem prevails. Is it supposed to depict the reality of war? Maybe yes, but all it does is always impact, impact, impact, and I felt little or no emotion. After the first sequence, SPR stooped for the lowest level — and I tried to keep awake during some tedious parts, but I ended up snickering and laughing at a few utterly lame and manipulative scenes (Remember Edward Burns’ arrogantly stoic character and Tom Hanks’ Capt. Miller’s speech?).
One of the biggest problems with the film is that the audience at first showed disdain for the translator because he’s a “coward” (why the critics say this in their reviews is beyond me), and then cheered when he shot one of the German soldiers to death just to show his courage — I found this disturbing. After the final battle, the music began to cue and there comes the greatest manipulative climax I’ve ever seen — from the slowly progressing (and cliched) morph scene to the banality of a final nationalistic scene with the U.S. flag waving for another 25 seconds.
After I left the theater quietly, I let out intense rib-aching laughter all the way driving home. This is what Mr. Goldman observes as “phony and manipulative, to serve our Country.” I’m sorry if I sound crude, but I debunk SPR for being blatantly manipulative and hypersentimental on par with Patch Adams, another worse movie that year.
This is my honest opinion — to observe, dissect and criticize — and I don’t trust the critics anymore, because they went overboard just for the realistic depiction of war violence, calling the movie “the greatest war movie ever made!” In truth, older war movies are much better in terms of writing and acting (Paths of Glory and The Longest Day) — despite the fact that they’re tame for not being profane and gory.
And most importantly, SPR shouldn’t be shown in English classes in high schools just as another critically overrated The Clockwork Orange shouldn’t. It only serves to desensitize the kids because of the “war is bad” propaganda coupled with the U.S.-saluting totalitarianism. The epitome of a double-wham hypocrisy just like the propagandizing Nazi films.