Andrew Garfield is Desmond Doss

Andrew Garfield is Desmond Doss

Reel Reviews: One for the adults and for the kids

Taylor, Howe and Fenin review Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and the kids’ cartoon feature Trolls.

  • Nov. 11, 2016 12:00 p.m.

This week we have reviewed Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and the kids’ cartoon feature Trolls, with the help of Master Fenin Howe.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the true story of Pte. 1st Class Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), who won the Congressional Medal of Honour by saving 75 men during the Battle of Okinawa despite refusing to ever fire a weapon.

Doss is first ostracized by his brothers-in-arms and his sergeant (Vince Vaughn), but their tune changes when they all retreat and he stays.

Trolls is about the Bergens, a group of miserable ogre-type creatures that must eat the trolls to make them happy, even if it is for only one day of the year. The only thing standing in their way is the trolls fearless leader Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and over-cautious Branch (Justin Timberlake).

FENIN: Hey dad, don’t forget about all the great music in Trolls:

“I got this feeling inside my bones;

It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on…”

HOWE: Really Fenin, you are going to sing it again for the millionth time?

Anyway, the movie was good. It has a happy feeling to it and made me smile throughout. And yes, the soundtrack is great: some real blast from the pasts for the parents plus a couple of new original songs that I hadn’t heard before that the kids will like.

TAYLOR: Pte. Doss, as he is depicted, is a simple man of religious conviction, an American patriot who wanted to go to war because, like so many of his friends, he felt that justice for the bombing of Pearl Harbour should be served. However, for reasons I shan’t spoil by mentioning, his voluntary service has the stipulation that he would not kill, wouldn’t even touch a weapon. This part of the story is the meat of what is interesting in Hacksaw Ridge. And for delivering it, surprisingly well, we have Andrew Garfield to thank.

Doss is an odd duck, obviously, and Garfield is believable. Still, our duck has to move through a story with other characters and locations. It is in these scenes where things aren’t exactly lacking, but they are more akin to other war films we have seen.

The opening romance with his sweetheart is squeaky clean and apple pie. The boot camp scenes are somewhat comical and locker room. The war scenes are gruesome and intentionally blunt.

FENIN: What I liked about Trolls was that you could see the difference between Branch and the other trolls when he was sad. In the beginning of the movie, he was all grey but by the end of the movie he had found his happiness and changed colour.

“I got this feeling inside my bones; It goes electric…”

HOWE. Give me strength.

TAYLOR: Well, I liked my film too, even though it was a bit melodramatic and contained perhaps a few too many body parts flying around.

I was able to get lost in the story and only occasionally was annoyed by directorial decisions that I wouldn’t have made.

I saw the film with my friend Corky (there’s only one Corky). He too thought the film was a quality telling of the story and that viewers should have a strong stomach. Gibson seems to have a knack for gruesome stories. In this one, at least, there is some honour.

– Taylor gives Hacksaw Ridge 4 stretchers out of 5.

– Fenin gives Trolls 3 roller-skates out of 5.

– Howe gives Trolls 3 serving pots out of 5.

– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column. Reel Reviews, is published in The Morning Star every Friday.