Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saints and Soldiers: The Void Review

It's been just over ten years since Saints and Soldiers came to theaters. It was a fantastic movie that beautifully wove together themes of war and religion. Two years ago they made the very confusing move to make a second one, Saints and Soldiers: Airborne Creed. Given the subject matter and how the movie ends, this wasn't a movie that lent itself to a second movie, even with it being a prequel. I almost gave it a shot, but just never got around to it as the poor reaction made it so it wasn't high on my priority list. And now this year we have a third one. Really? Why? Oh but hold up. Matt Meese stars in this movie? Suddenly I became super intrigued with this idea. I thought about catching up and seeing Airborne Creed, but that never happened as I just decided to take the chance and see The Void without seeing Airborne Creed. That worked out because The Void has nothing to do with the other two. But unfortunately, my initial fears before learning about Matt Meese came true. A third Saints and Soldiers movie was just completely unnecessary and honestly wasn't very good.

Now this review is actually a hard one for me to write. Part of me wants to just pretend I never saw this and go about my day as normal. No one would know otherwise. But I'm going to do it anyways. Why do I say this is hard? Because I have been a fan of Matt Meese for a long time. While he was in school, he was part of BYU's Divine Comedy, a sketch comedy group at BYU. After graduating, he helped start Studio C, which is a sketch comedy TV series on BYUTV. I will proudly admit that I never missed a Divine Show that he was in while I was down at BYU and I have watched every single episode of Studio C. In fact, thanks to some lucky connections, I have actually been in three different Studio C skits and helped with their Stadium of Fire gig this year (you can see me in these Studio C skits: Cowboys, The Center for People that YouTube Made Infamous, and Deal Breaker [featuring Mates of State]). All this means that I wanted to love this movie so that I could write a raving review and share it with all my Studio C connections and thus have everyone from Studio C read my review about how awesome it was seeing Matt Meese in such a good movie. But as a movie reviewer, my number one rule is to be honest with myself. I will never write a review giving a false opinion just to get views. In my opinion, that's not fair to myself or my readers. So I have to be honest. While Matt did a fantastic job in the movie, he was in fact one of the only highlights of the movie. And if Matt or any other Studio C members happen to read this review, I hope they will at least appreciate my honesty.

As I mentioned earlier, the biggest red flag for this movie was the fact that it existed. That sounds harsh, but there's no need for more Saints and Soldiers movies. The first one was excellent and ended in such a way that didn't lend itself to a sequel. And as I always say, I can be very picky with sequels and remakes. If they're going to exist, they better justify their existence. And yes, this has happened. There are plenty of times when I felt that a sequel was unnecessary, but it happened anyways and was in fact excellent. The Void doesn't accomplish this. In fact, this feels very forced. Being that the first doesn't lend itself to sequels, this one is forced to completely alienate itself from that movie in order to exist. No returning characters. No returning actors. Completely different premise. Outside the fact that it's a Word War II movie and has the same director, this really has nothing to do with the first one.

But hey, just because it has nothing to do with the first, doesn't mean it's bad, right? Yes, that's true. Problem is there is more to it than that in this case. First off, this movie is hard to watch in multiple ways. The dialogue in this movie is just plain awful. The movie spends a lot of time trying to develop these new characters, but the dialogue is just so poorly written that it's quite embarrassing. Add to that, Matt Meese is one of the few actors that does a good job. Outside him, the movie is riddled with a bunch of nobodies that can't act to save their life. It's like this movie had such a low budget that they didn't event want to try to get real actors so they hired a bunch of people off the street to act alongside Matt. Finally, here's what I had the biggest issue with. The movie was titled "SAINTS" and "SOLDIERS." The beauty of the first one was that it weaved in themes of war and religion. It got both parts. The Void totally forgot about the Saints part of things because outside one of the guys saying a prayer at one point, I saw no religious themes whatsoever. Sure, there were positive themes such as fighting for freedom and learning to accept people regardless of skin color, but that didn't cut it for me. They should've just named the movie Soldiers: The Void if they were going to completely cut out any religious themes.

So in the end I felt like this was just a dull and boring movie that wasn't worthy of the title Saints and Soldiers. Yes, Matt Meese did a great job. And no, I'm not just saying that to say that. Despite the movie around him being complete crap, it was great seeing him on the big screen. He is a very talented individual that deserves to get cast in more big roles like this. It was also commendable seeing him do such a good job in a serious role after being so used to him doing comedy for several years. But it's just sad that his debut film had to be in such a bad movie. Of course none of it is his fault. I'll put that blame on writer/director Ryan Little, who I do respect for movies such as Saints and Soldiers and Forever Strong. We'll just mark this up to a minor bump in the road for his directing career and hope he comes up with something better next time. My grade for Saints and Soldiers: The Void is a very disappointing 5/10. 

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