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Teen Movie Critic



Roger Davidson

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One of the best Civil war films to come out in recent years, this story of the first regiment of black men is stunning and beautiful. We follow the men from training camps, where brutal drill sergeants use every means to turn them into fighting men, and then onto the battlefield itself. One particular regiment, the 54th, fought a battle that convinced the Union that black men were as good a soldier as white men. It inspired over 100,000 blacks to join up and possibly help turn the course of the entire war. Among the members of the regiment, which is lead by a young Northerner (Matthew Broderick), there is the gravedigger John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman). Freeman is one of the more knowledgeable of the soldiers and he understands all too well what they're getting into. Then there is Trip (Denzel Washington), an escaped slave from the South, who is tough as nails and embittered against the world for what has happened to him. Finally, a free northern scholar named Searles (Andre Braugher), whose eyes are ope ned to the mistreatment of blacks in both the North and the South. He learns of injustice through some of his own hardships as he becomes a soldier and gains the respect of his fellow troops as he applies what he learns.

An outstanding production, with a top-draw cast and an important eye for detail. The realistic battle scenes capture the agony, anguish, pain, triumph and yes, the glory of war. It's hard to say if it's pro or anti-war, since it captures both sides of the coin quite well. Thanks go in part to Washington (in an Academy-award winning role), Freeman, Braugher and Broderick, who seems to be playing his first real adult role here. The wonderful cinematography, art direction, costumes and choreographed battle scenes make you feel as if you are part of it. The ending is probably the most powerful scenes of war ever, capturing all facets of war movies of the past. This is definitely in my top ten list for best war films of all time.

My Rating = Four Stars

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