cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

tigerland
click for full sized poster

Buy the Poster

Tigerland

Starring Colin Farrell, Clifton Collins Jr., Matthew Davis, Tom Guiry, Shea Whigham
Screenplay by Ross Klavan and Michael McGruther
Directed by Joel Schumacher
website: www.tigerlandmovie.com

IN SHORT: An effective character driven war film. Something we "liked," from a director whose work we normally don't like. [Rated R for violence, pervasive language, a scene of strong sexuality and some drug use. 109 minutes]

Let's make a short movie list: A soldier acts nuts to try to get out of Service (M*A*S*H). A squad of soldiers bonds before during or after battle (most recently, Saving Private Ryan). A soldier demonstrates extreme heroism by taking the place of another (Hair. sort of). Now answer this question: how do you keep a war story fresh when "it's all been done"? Fairly easily, actually. Especially when you work from a script that is heavy on character dynamics and light on gimmicks or unbelievable plot twists.

From Our Honest is the Best Policy Department: we have always, for the most part, disliked Director Joel Schumacher's use of gimmicks and twists, and our dislike for his Batman films is a whole 'nother matter. We are prepared to eat crow on this one, called Tigerland. Schumacher, working from a screenplay by Ross Klavan and Michael McGruther, puts all the emphasis on performances and makes you feel as if you are experiencing the reality seen on screen. Critics just older than Cranky were speaking every drill sergeant-given command back at the screen, even as the words were coming out of the speakers. Boot camp leaves a lasting impression, I'd guess. I missed it by about six months.

Tigerland is set in September of 1971, though we actually get nowhere near Vietnam. Without getting into the politics of the time, the country is growing ever more vocal against the War, and everyone -- enlisted, draftee or lifers -- knows it. The Army regulars assigned to the Ft. Polk boot camp in Louisiana have all done stints in Nam. They all know the war is being lost. Having survived the situation, they know the true meaning of kill or be killed. The new kids in the camp have to be taught the Army way 'cuz it's the only chance they'll have to survive. The Army way emphasizes "Respect. For your Superiors. For yourselves and your unit. For the enemy." and the jump to the orders discipline that might allow these grunts to survive. When it all comes down to that final day, no one exits the camp for anyplace but Southeast Asia.

Which isn't exactly what Private Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell) of Texas has in mind. It isn't that he came in to the camp a long haired anti-war hippie pinko protester. In fact, we never do find out either way. It is obvious to the Drill Staff that the Private possesses all the skills and raw intelligence that mark him as having Potential. Not just to survive but to lead as well. Bozz makes like Tommy, a popular rock 'n' roll character of the time. He doesn't see it. He won't hear of it. He'll spend all his time in stockade for disobedience until the Army drums him out. And if the Army won't drum him out, he knows the regulations and procedures backwards and forwards and will help the other grunts get the hell out of camp. Not to Nam but to Home. Some battles are won. Some battles are lost. But the War waits patiently thousands of miles away.

Confining the action to training -- the only outsiders we see are the prostitutes working the bars surrounding the Fort -- reveals characters that individually define what war "means" to the male of the species. At least the ones in "Company A": Paxton (Matt Davis) the middle class kid who can but chooses to do his duty and enlists; Miter (Clifton Collins Jr.) the wimpy kidlet who thinks the Army will make him a Man; Wilson (Shea Whigham) the gung-ho kid who can't wait to shoot up the Enemy; or draftees like Johnson (Russell Richardson) who can't afford college and an educational deferment or Cantwell (Thomas Guiry), who is close to shell-shock from the word go. All the individual actors that fill the unit build easily recognizable and fairly detailed characters. That they survive in a palpably oppressive atmosphere and still manage to wisecrack between pounding the stuffing out of each other -- this beyond Training -- makes the film far easier to sit through than it may sound. A little humor goes a very long ways.

Tigerland, in its first half is a test of wills. The man who wants out of a System that will never allow itself to look weak enough to let him go. The man who bends the System and the System that refuses to break. And finally, to "Tigerland, the second worst place on Earth" where the conditions are as close to Viet Nam as are physically possible and the ammunition is live. Alliances and enmities forged in boot camp are pushed beyond the breaking point as Sgt. Bozz proves to be more responsible than he let on.

And giving that point away strips the story of none of its power. Indeed, with a couple of war movies under your belt, it's a logical plot device. What writers Klavan and McGruther, and director Schumacher do with it will still surprise and leave you with a very satisfying ending.

And that sentence does not mean anything close to what you think it means.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Tigerland, he would have paid...

$6.75

Schumacher's timing has never been better. He shoots the film in 16mm handheld documentary style and the images subtly degrade as the story moves closer and closer to its conclusion, with colors fading away until only Army green and Human flesh are left. The back end of the film is reminiscent of the war footage seen back when Walter Cronkite was the voice of the nation, hand held and grainy, recoiling from the impact of explosions we don't see. A damn fine job all around.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Joel Schumacher
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.