thanks to a complex and unorthodox narrative, and a première that came on saving private ryan's heels, director terrence malick's masterpiece has been unfairly overlooked. in fact, it serves as the perfect bookend to spielberg's epic. like the war in europe, ryan was accessible, righteous, and heroic. like the war in the pacific, red line was confusing, barbaric, and gruesome - and equally important.
enemy at the gates (2001)
starring: ed harris, jude law, joseph fiennes
the duel between a russian and german sniper in stalingrad provides lots of heart-stopping action, but the finale is anticlimactic. less cred-ible is the clumsy insertion of a love interest, a female russian sniper who, in the best tradition of female russian snipers, is also a deadly femme fatale out of uniform.
starring: matthew mcconaughey, bill paxton, harvey keitel
war buffs will resent the inaccurate implication that it was the americans, not the british, who broke germany's enigma code. thespians will resent the wooden manner in which mcconaughey assumes his duties as a navy officer. still, the scenes inside the sub are compelling in that sweaty, claustrophobic submarine-movie way.
pearl harbor (2001)
starring: ben affleck, josh hartnett, kate beckinsale
movie clichés drop faster and harder than the actual bombs in this endless inquest into audience endurance levels. the attack on pearl harbor is convincing, until affleck and hartnett start whizzing around in their 1940s prop planes as if they were piloting star wars fighters.
captain corelli's mandolin (2001)
starring: nicolas cage, penélope cruz, christian bale
rating: not available at press time