Tedious. That’s the best way I can think to describe it. Over two hours and I looked at my watch often.
The essential flaw here is that Clint Eastwood‘s not saying anything we haven’t really heard before. The message seems to be “war is bad.” Did nobody know this? I suppose there’s a finer point having something to do with the archaic nature of certain cultures, and that change is important and sometimes it can take extreme duress for people to realize that. But again, is there anybody in America who thinks that self-sacrifice in the name of honor is a tradition worth being upheld? I doubt it. So, in the same way that Crash was about twenty years late in its message, so is Iwo Jima about fifty years too late.
One thing that really stood out to me as frustrating was the acting. Maybe the stockade of Japanese actors with serious chops hasn’t filled itself out in the way that America’s has; that would make sense I guess. But it’s hard when you’re trying to attach yourself to a main character who you simply don’t believe. Why should I care about him if I can’t believe him? Or I guess, HOW can I care about him? Admittedly, Ken Watanabe is a pretty good actor. But he doesn’t have the strength to carry a movie like this all on his own.
In general there is a harshness in the violence and the interactions that’s supposed to be some sort of true and unapologetic reality, but whatever. It’s dark, and violent, and you get burnt out on it. The abundant suicides in the film just sort of turned me off. Not that I don’t get where he’s coming from, but you can only handle so much of, “listen, this is how it went, and if you can’t handle that, then maybe you’re not ready for what we have to say.” Ok, fine, but I’d rather you reach me on an intellectual level than a visceral one. Maybe not all the time, but here it was too much.