'Act of Valor': The Anti-'Avatar'
“Act of Valor” is the antithesis of “Avatar,” a film I reviewed at Big Hollywood two years ago.
“Avatar” was a sci-fi film in every way to include portraying our military as crazed killers who become mercenaries in order to destroy a civilization so that corporations can capitalize on a rare commodity prized by earthlings. Of course, director James Cameron will deny any similarity to our military. His disclaimer would read, “This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.”
It is the innuendo in “Avatar” that disses our soldiers. If you saw the film you surely did not walk away without comparing the soldiers in that movie to our military. It is well known that the majority of those in the “business” of Hollywood filmmaking are left leaning, anti-war, anti-Tea Party, anti-gun, anti-Bush, etc., and if you are not on their side you don’t work.
I have been on a few movie sets and around some well known Hollywood actors, and I know first hand that your politics can get you black listed. There are exceptions, though; those few right wing actors already on the “A” list still get work. But if you are a “B” list actor and have right wing political views it's pragmatic to keep them to yourself.
If Cameron didn’t want the audience to relate his direction of the mercenaries in “Avatar” to our military he should have used soldiers from Balmorra, a planet from “Star Wars” torn apart by war.
Unlike “Avatar,” “Act of Valor” portrays our military as the professional, highly trained, highly skilled, soldiers that they are. There is no Hollywood hype when you see them take out the enemy with head shots. It is probably the closest anyone will get to experience actual combat without being there. Be sure to see it.
The movie review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes says this about “Act of Valor”: It's undeniably reverent of the real-life heroes in its cast, but “Act of Valor” lets them down with a clichéd script, stilted acting, and a jingoistic attitude that ignores the complexities of war.
Jingoistic? For those unfamiliar with this word it means a person who professes his patriotism loudly and excessively, favoring vigilant preparedness for war. Like President Reagan’s famous “jingoistic” quote, “Peace through strength.”
The reviews tell a different story, 86 percent of the audience liked it while 70 percent of the critics found it “Rotten.” A big disconnect because the critics didn’t like the acting, the script, or compared it to “Top Gun,” which I view as a real “Hollywood” over the top flick.
One of the critics wrote it “failed to honor the missions of our Navy SEALs.” Right and I suppose he has been on a few of those missions and has first hand knowledge of what SEALs really do. In fact it was the SEALs who wrote the “OPLAN” for some of the scenes. OPLAN is the military acronym for Operations Plan.
Another critic wrote, “Don’t go expecting good acting from the SEALs.”\ Who would expect non-actors to be “good?” In this case they were good - maybe not as good as Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, or Jack Nicholson, but SEALs don’t make a living by acting. Their job is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” (Taken from the Oath of Enlistment)
“Not sufficient basis for a feature film” wrote another. “Brainless”, “…the acting is expectedly terrible, the script is AWFUL” were some other anencephalic comments.
The critics missed the whole point of the movie; it wasn’t made to garner Academy Awards for acting excellence. It was made as a tribute to our SEALs who have given their lives for their country. It was made to honor them and their families who have sacrificed so much. It was made to honor all of our military of which less than one percent of our population has served in.
Perhaps the Academy should add a new category, “Jingoistic”, which would be a category Michael Moore and Al Gore would never win. How many of those critics have the sense to recognize that “Act of Valor” dramatically represents exactly what our SEALs really do?