Battle of the Bloated
As Christmas of 1944 edges ever closer the Allied armies believe the war is all but over with Germany in retreat. But the German's have not given up yet and have a surprise of their own as they plan to stage an offensive to divide the allied forces and buy them self more time to get their new weapons ready for attack.
Anyone who has read my reviews of other WWII movies will know that my knowledge of the war is limited due to the poor history lessons which for some reason decided to ignore teaching us about the various conflicts during WWII. So to be honest I should say that I have no idea how accurate "Battle of the Bulge" is to the truth but even to me it is very obvious that Hollywood have used a true story to turn out Hollywood war movie where we have action, heroes and villains. And the one thing I do know about "Battle of the Bulge" is that former US President Eisenhower is reported to have denounced the movie because of its numerous historical accuracies.
What does that mean then? Well for those who seek out "Battle of the Bulge" because of an interest in the various conflicts during WWII are going to be highly disappointed and those who watch because of some connection to the events it is based on will most likely be just as disappointed. But for those who seek out for some Hollywood war action will most likely enjoy it, well just about because even when just watched as entertainment it has various flaws, none more so than its 167 minute running length. Even at 2 hours "Battle of the Bulge" would have seem bloated and with it being closer to 3 hours it is a slog of over written scenes which now seem corny. I understand the intention was to be epic but this just doesn't deliver everything that a movie needs to sustain this sort of length.
There is no denying that when approached as entertainment visually "Battle of the Bulge" is great with brilliant sets, lots of action and plenty of daring even if some of the sets look out of place. But because it doesn't have the substance behind it in the script it often feels like a movie made by those who think just visual entertainment and a star cast will sustain the audience. It is a shame that director Ken Annakin didn't have a better script to work with because it is the key thing which is missing.
The knock on effect of this is that the characters also suffer despite a good cast. Henry Fonda gives us a nice performance of an every man whilst Charles Bronson works well with him as an action type character. Robert Shaw turns up the dial as a cold German driven by war whilst Robert Ryan does bloated leadership as a General who was wrong about what will happen. But the characters are cliches, stereotypical characters which in some cases have a comical bent such as tank driver Sgt. Guffy who deals in black market goods.
What this all boils down to is that "Battle of the Bulge" is a failure as a retelling of a true WWII conflict but just about passable as a typical WWII action movie. But it is bloated and seriously flawed and really just for those who want WWII escapism and action.